Are MSMEs in the organic textile sector the engines to attain sustainable fashion and development goals?
Arijit Mazumdar February 13, 2020
A Hustler who is on a mission to improve the quality of the
fashion industry. His expertise is in the startup ecosystem, team building, retail and business growth.
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Sustainable fashion, also regarded as ethical clothing, has already started making its way in the Indian market. Gone are the days when ethical fashion was a strangely unfamiliar term, or for a few, synonymous to boring old-school clothes.
From using natural dyes and fabrics to making an effort towards paying workers fairly, brands not only in India but all over the world are slowly embracing this new move in the textile and clothing industry. Besides the brands, up-and-coming designers are also introducing modern and chic collections that are tailored from fabrics like Hemp and Khadi.
One of the primary reasons, without a doubt, behind this sudden acceptance of eco-friendly products is due to the spurt of awareness. As more and more Indians realize the impact of fast fashion on the environment, they are making the necessary moves.
Brands, big and small, and the whole of MSMEs in the organic textile sector are stepping forward to produce ethical clothing through the safe production process and radical transparency because the buyers are now pointing questions. Many small-scale companies are also promoting customization of garments and recycling, which seems like a massive step in the right direction.
Environmental-friendly and sustainable clothing is steadily emerging as a booming industry in India because social workers and environmentalists are making people aware of the misconducts prevailing in the clothing industry. Hence, Indian Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises are under immense pressure to integrate sustainable supply chain management (SSCM) and sustainable supply chain practices (SSCP) into their conventional supply chain (SC).
On the other hand, Indian MSMEs in the textile sector, given their spread and size, have the power to strengthen the idea of inclusive and sustainable development in the fashion and clothing industry. But what is stopping these enterprises in participating and contributing to a country’s sustainable development goals?
Barriers and Challenges
Size matters! Especially in business. The same goes for embracing innovations, technologies, and practices. Does this indicate that the fashion industry needs to reach out to MSMEs in the textile sector for bringing sustainability into practice? The answer is undoubted YES!
MSMEs, particularly in the fashion and clothing industry, are often led by visionary product designers or specialists. Their limited yet quality-focused scale allows them to be adaptable and flexible, which is crucial to adapt to new market conditions and external turbulence on the part of buyers, critics, and trends.
As a consequence, owing to massive demand, cut-throat competition, the environmental damage caused due to the textile industry, more and more MSMEs are making a shift towards sustainable practices, which in turn will help them remain unique and stay ahead of the crowd.
There’s an on-going growing trend of big fashion brands approaching small or medium-scale enterprises for partnering or sourcing for producing ethical clothing. But wherein lies the problem?
With the onset of ethical and sustainable fashion in India, the MSMEs are fairly lagging behind the rival country’s firms. The main reason, evidently, behind this is the lack of presence of updated technology and widespread practice of using synthetic materials for cutting the final cost of the product.
The absence of required technology is reducing the potential of MSMEs in the textile industry. Hence lowering the demand for their product, increasing the switch to competitors, mostly from the neighbouring countries, thereby giving rise to losses, slower adoption of better practices, and delayed production of sustainable clothing.
Despite good prospects and high growth rate as a contributor to this global movement, the Indian MSMEs are facing certain constraints, mainly; inadequate infrastructure facilities including water, power, and lack of skilled workforce; limited up-to-date information; and unwillingness towards making a better, safer, and relatively-expensive choice.
To boot, many MSMEs, that regarded as the ‘first responders to societal needs’, are creating a negative portrayal of the concept of sustainability. And all this due to the fear of loss of business, which in reality is not the case.
The Brighter Side
Even though the shift from fast fashion to slow fashion is at a nascent stage, the day is not far when sustainability would stem inherently in fashion. Thanks to the very few consumers who are taking a cue, shifting towards eco-friendly clothing. Thereby, compelling businesses and ecopreneurs to produce suitable clothes that leave little or zero impact on the environment.
For the brands, manufacturers, entrepreneurs, and the whole of the textile industry, getting sustainability right compensates in the form of consumers, followed by millennials and Gen Z who are responsible behind this widely-spread movement and the demand for “sustainable fashion” online as well as offline.
How are Marketers Bringing Green into Vogue?
Sustainable fashion marketing trends are coming into notice more than ever. Term it the Greta effect or anything else; marketers are stepping up their game and speaking with a louder, bolder, and clearer voice.
Backed by technology and improved access to consumers through social media platforms and e-commerce, these marketers of reputed brands are embarking on awareness-building and educational campaigns, unveiling details about how clothes are produced and expanding their narrative beyond the PR guidelines.
To an extent, this has left an impact on how the information is shared with consumers, enhanced the importance of transparency, and given an insight into the changing-landscape from cheap, irresponsible, fast fashion trends towards more sustainable and ethical practice.
As an advocate of this movement, a reputed international brand gained tremendous attention for evolving entirely to recycled wool and organic cotton, along with other fibres. Similarly, another brand, in its latest initiative disclosed all of its certifications for sewing products, first-tier suppliers, and long-lasting fabrics. Up-and-coming brands, as well as their new-age founders, are using humour to communicate with the millennial audience as well as implanting diversity in their social campaigns.
With a focus on longstanding emotional value, the portrayal of ethical newness, and constant building of consumer trust, these new-wave fashion enterprises are sharing a collective mission of spreading awareness and educating people regarding sustainable fashion through the means of traditional as well as digital marketing, social media, and advertisements.
Sustainable Fashion – A Booming Destination for Entrepreneurs
Increasingly, over the last few years, sustainable development, regardless of the sector, has become a major buzzword in the world. Despite, all the flimflam and innovative conversations around this topic, as an industry, sustainability in fashion still has a long way to go.
If that’s the case, what would drive the new-age entrepreneurs to leap into the sustainable fashion industry?
- Eco-consciousness must start in the classroom
- Offer awards, grants, and scholarships to students pursuing education in fashion
- Create accelerators for aspiring entrepreneurs and give them access to mentoring, funding, other services
- Initiate collaboration with newbies in the entrepreneurial world
- Help promote and launch a new sustainable fashion business
By taking into consideration the entrepreneurial spirit for better, a few socially-conscious fashion and textile businesses are guaranteed to commence and lead the way towards a safer, stronger, and sustainable future of fashion.
However, social entrepreneurship, conscious consumerism, and organic production; are likely to fit in the mindsets of people only if they are offered and shown the way towards better policies, lucrative business environments, and an affordable range of products that contribute towards the larger goal – creating a sustainable lifestyle!