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Ways to win at the trending slow fashion movement

Fast fashion is so last season, Cem Altan, president of the International Apparel Federation (IAF) explains, adding Turkey is proving increasingly attractive as buyers look to higher quality products in smaller quantities with shorter lead times.

Figure: The fashion industry is on a mission to reduce textile waste which will be helped with the transition to slow fashion. 

Turkey has benefited from its access to raw materials and government support and Altan adds that its focus on value-added, high-quality products or slow fashion, rather than cheap, mass-produced fast-fashion items, is proving increasingly popular to its target export markets of the US and Europe.

But with soaring energy costs, increasing inflation and living costs, clothing has fallen on the priority purchase list. Altan warns that major apparel-sourcing countries could see a 20-25% decrease in clothing orders in the near term on the back of this.

He shares his tips on how the industry can seize growth under challenging market conditions by jumping onto the slow-fashion train.

Support your suppliers: Inflation is as high as 10% in the US and Europe. But clothing prices (at the supplier end) have only grown 1% on average. Brands need their suppliers so must look at supporting them financially to ensure their long-term sustainability and survival.

Understand sustainability comes at a cost: Suppliers are expected to produce in safe and sustainable factories and treat their employees well. This requires investment. But suppliers need to turn a profit first. Buyers should recognize this and extend support to allow for this.

Investing in digitization: Asia was once the king of low-priced, mass-produced clothing. But the priority is now higher quality, better value, and smaller runs. Digital technologies are helping to reduce waste during the design and production stage and there are huge benefits to this in the long term. To support this evolution, universities and academic institutes should focus more on fashion design and technology programs.

Nearshoring won’t solve all the industry’s problems: Quality, added value and incorporating designs which support local manufacturers and design groups will help to create a more sustainable future for the apparel industry.

Attracting young talent: Generational change must be acknowledged and embraced. Young people approach fashion with a different mentality. The industry should be accommodating this instead of expecting newcomers to change their approach. It is essential to include young designers in the process as they have a greater understanding of what the industry looks like today and in the future.

Design products with end of life in mind: The industry is on a mission to reduce textile waste which will be helped with the transition to slow fashion. Reducing production and increasing quality will mean that the products purchased by consumers can be used for a longer period of time. All clothing should be made of renewable and repairable materials, and this will contribute to the targeted development goals.

(The report was first published on Just Style website)

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