A Talk with Carmen Artigas on Strategies for Sustainable Fashion Brands

– No one has ever projected that 2020 is going to be a tough year. Some of those new year resolutions have to be put on a halt because twenty-twenty does not run as smoothly as everyone had hoped. Business is no exception as it is significantly impacted. During this year, we have heard especially many fashion companies experienced decreasing sales, even declared bankruptcy, and the news is far from delightful.

Amidst all these, the effort of staying positive and trying to rework existing strategies should become priorities. Imarit had a chance to engage in a captivating interview about business strategies amidst Covid-19 with Carmen Artigas, a Mexico-based sustainable fashion designer and consultant whose amazing portfolios include helping mass-market to high-end companies such as Donna Karan, Swatch, Kate Spade, and Ethical Fashion Initiative build resilient businesses while minimizing their human and environmental impact. Her mission is to bring sustainability and ethics into the design process and to empower designers and brands to make responsible decisions about sourcing and manufacturing. 

According to Carmen, there are 3 crucial strategies to consider, if not re-evaluate, for during and when the situation is over. In this globalized era which enables companies to find suppliers from all over the world, the practice of pursuing multiple supplier strategies might seem familiar. To ensure the lowest possible production cost, oftentimes players in the industry resort to several international low-cost suppliers for one product. As good as it may sounds, it might be challenging for several reasons including the delay of production and shipping due to diverse locations during the crisis. Hence, the act of de-risking the supply chain by going local in a big landscape and re-evaluate relationships with suppliers by creating small, short supply chains are advised. Therefore, Carmen suggested that a single supplier plus single material is the perfect formula to survive especially in this unfortunate precedent.

On the other hand, it has come to public attention that representing the number of brands were not respecting their agreements with its factories as it canceled produced and shipped orders, leaving vulnerable workers mostly unpaid. Though however, this damaging situation strikes both parties in distressing ways, responsibility should still apply among the partnership as having strong, trustful, long-term relationships with suppliers is a key to go. She believes it is essential to deliver the highest value of integrity, empathy, and solidarity in whichever occurrences. 

Moreover, the material is a never-ending discussion in the fashion industry. Carmen believes that the key to the future of fashion is avoiding exposure to hazardous materials as it will endanger both environment and workers, even customers. Delivering the luxury of intimacy with safe, natural, and comfortable materials is vital. Embracing Alpaca wool is a great example as not only it is one of the safest natural substances, it is also the most comfortable fiber as its great insulation works well in both warm and cold climates.

As a sustainability expert, Carmen considers three crucial aspects in terms of strategizing for the fashion industry in the occurring pandemic. Evaluation of the de-risking supply chain, the establishment of a strong relationship between the company and its supplier, as well as utilizing safe materials are the answers for a company to survive. She concluded, "I think the lockdown period during the pandemic has helped us to become introspective and connected with ourselves. It has also helped shift our priorities, evaluate our relationships, and our view of the world".

Written by Adelia Yulinda for Imarit.

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