Climate Action in Fashion
A conversation with Dr Lucas Naves, Global Head of Materials and Sustainability, ‘The Giving Movement’
Xinlu Liu, Sustainability Expert at Terrascope, had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Lucas Naves, Global Head of Materials and Sustainability, ‘The Giving Movement’, a Dubai-based sustainable fashion brand. Lucas shared valuable insights into the fashion industry's evolving awareness and maturity regarding climate change, the primary forces driving the climate agenda, and the key changes anticipated in the industry. He also discussed the importance of organizational transformation and highlighted the initiatives ‘The Giving Movement’ is undertaking to promote sustainability. Lucas and Xinlu also spoke about responsible sourcing relationships, supplier engagement, and the role of data collection in understanding and improving sustainability efforts. Read on to discover the highlights of the conversation.
Xinlu: How is the attitude of the fashion industry towards climate change?
Lucas: From my perspective, the fashion industry's awareness of climate change has grown significantly in recent years. Consumers are increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of the fashion industry, and this awareness has forced brands and organizations to take notice. However, there is still a long way to go. Many companies are still focused on traditional business models that prioritize profit over sustainability. While progress has been made, it is crucial for the industry as a whole to embrace sustainability as a core value.
Climate change has become a prominent topic of discussion at the fashion industry's conferences and collaborations. Sustainability is now a key focus of these events, and the urgency to address climate change is palpable. It is encouraging to witness industry leaders, experts, and stakeholders come together to share ideas and explore innovative solutions. However, it is important to ensure that these discussions lead to concrete action rather than just serving as platforms for rhetoric.
Xinlu: What steps can fashion brands take to become more sustainable?
Lucas: Fashion brands can take several steps to become more sustainable. Firstly, they need to assess their supply chain and identify areas where improvements can be made. This includes selecting sustainable raw materials, implementing energy-efficient production processes, and ensuring fair labor practices. Brands should also strive for transparency and traceability throughout their supply chain, allowing consumers to make informed choices. Finally, investing in research and development to explore new sustainable technologies and materials can drive innovation and foster a more sustainable future.
Xinlu: What role does innovation play in promoting sustainability within the fashion industry?
Lucas: Innovation is key to driving sustainability in the fashion industry. Technological advancements offer exciting opportunities for creating more sustainable materials, improving production processes, and enhancing recycling and waste management systems. For instance, the development of innovative fabrics made from recycled materials or the use of advanced dyeing techniques that reduce water consumption can significantly impact the industry's environmental footprint. Embracing innovation allows the industry to evolve and adapt to the demands of a changing world.
Xinlu: What are some of the key challenges the fashion industry faces in adopting sustainable practices?
Lucas: One of the significant challenges is the complex and globalized nature of the fashion supply chain. From sourcing raw materials to manufacturing, distribution, and retail, the industry involves multiple stakeholders and processes. Creating a sustainable supply chain requires collaboration and coordination across all these levels. Additionally, there is a need to address the issue of overconsumption. Shifting consumer mindsets and promoting a more circular economy are crucial steps to tackle this challenge.
Xinlu: What are some of the key initiatives you are implementing at ‘The Giving Movement’ to reduce your carbon emissions and promote sustainability?
Lucas: We have implemented several key initiatives to reduce our carbon emissions and promote sustainability. Firstly, we analyze our upstream shipment practices, which have a significant impact on our value chain. By reducing air freight and relying more on sea freight, we have managed to reduce our carbon emissions by 40%. Additionally, we conduct workshops with employees to promote education and awareness about sustainable practices in their daily lives. We have also eliminated single-use plastic in our office by removing individual bins and encouraging recycling. By collaborating with local companies like Recap, an app-based recycling service, we incentivize customers to recycle and reduce waste. These initiatives demonstrate our commitment to sustainability and engage both employees and customers in the process.
Xinlu: How can the fashion industry drive sustainable change while maintaining profitability?
Lucas: It is a common misconception that sustainability and profitability are mutually exclusive. In reality, adopting sustainable practices can enhance profitability in the long run. By investing in sustainable materials, energy-efficient production processes, and ethical labor practices, brands can build a positive reputation and attract conscious consumers. Moreover, focusing on durability and longevity rather than disposable fashion can lead to increased customer loyalty and reduced costs associated with fast fashion.
Xinlu: How do you engage with your suppliers and maintain responsible sourcing relationships? What are the key initiatives and best practices you have implemented?
Lucas: At ‘The Giving Movement’, we maintain strong relationships with our suppliers to ensure responsible sourcing. We have a small supply chain, which allows us to closely work with our suppliers and ensure compliance with our sustainability requirements. When onboarding new suppliers, we thoroughly screen them to ensure alignment with our values and international legislation. We prioritize suppliers who are committed to environmental and social responsibility. We visit them regularly to assess compliance, and they undergo third-party audits for social and environmental compliance. Open communication and collaboration help us address any issues that arise, rather than immediately switching suppliers. We believe in fostering long-term relationships and working together to improve sustainability practices.
Xinlu: How do you approach launching sustainable products, and what kind of research and collaboration do you engage in with suppliers?
Lucas: At ‘The Giving Movement’, our founder's vision was to use recycled, organic, and bio-based materials from the inception of the company. Launching a sustainable range involves careful selection of suppliers and materials. We prioritize suppliers who can provide traceability and comply with our sustainability requirements. We analyze the entire value chain, from feedstock to the final garment, ensuring compliance with international standards. Our suppliers undergo third-party audits to verify their social and environmental compliance. We maintain long-term relationships with our suppliers to foster trust and collaboration in improving sustainability practices.
Xinlu: What are the best practices that you wish to implement within your organization?
Lucas: As a company focused on sustainability, our ultimate goal is to divert 100% of our waste from landfills. While this is a challenging task, we believe it's essential for the industry. We look to countries like the UAE, which have ambitious plans to transform waste into energy, as inspiration. Achieving this goal would significantly reduce carbon emissions and environmental impact. However, we acknowledge the technological limitations and constraints within the industry. We strive to collaborate with industry leaders and suppliers to find innovative solutions that drive sustainability while considering the practicalities of product development.
Xinlu: How does Terrascope contribute to your sustainability journey, and what features or insights would you like to see from the platform?
Lucas: Terrascope plays a pivotal role in our decarbonisation journey by providing insights and traceability. The platform helps us understand our emissions in different scopes and allows us to see the impact of our operations in different countries. The platform's ability to show where emissions are increasing or decreasing helps us target areas for improvement. We appreciate the independence and confidence scores Terrascope provides, enabling us with a certainty to our direction towards climate action.