Fashion Supply Chain Management : Strategies for Lead Time Reduction and Environmental Sustainability : Case Studies from Zara and Everlane
Truong, Ngoc V.
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The fashion and textile industry has a major impact on the environment, on supply chains, on production, on manual labor and essentially on the consumers. It is one of the largest global industries and the second most polluting in the world, after only the oil industry. Today, Americans purchase 400 percent more clothing than they did 20 years ago. The rise of fast fashion in the past decade has shaped our present consumption culture by producing extremely cheap clothing that is meant to wear out after a few uses. These clothes are often made from non-recyclable materials, which after being thrown out to landfills can take up to 200 years to decompose, releasing toxic gasses into the air, which results in an adverse effect on the natural environment and human health (Bryant 2015). When a fashion company aims to promote sustainability to achieve a Triple Bottom Line, the main linkage is to develop a sustainable supply chain (SSC). Elaborating on frameworks of Porter and Forrester, this thesis maps and analyzes the traditional and current supply chain using two case studies: one from a fast fashion global corporation and the other, a sustainable fashion start-up. The focus is on creating an ideal SC system where fashion companies can be agile, sustainable, and profitable. The following recommendations were theorized to improve on the current fashion SC: (1) removing the number of intermediary players, localizing procurement and manufacturing, (2) increasing value-added by incorporating sustainability into every step along the SC, and (3) coordination is required from the entire industry to create a circular economy. The concluding remarks highlight key implications from the case studies and emphasize on potential areas of future study on a macroeconomic level.