Can on-demand production take off in the fashion industry?

Fashion-tech start-ups such as Unmade have begun to introduce innovations like on-demand production to champion the cause of sustainable fashion throughout the entire supply chain. 

But can they break through?

The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world, reportedly dumping 92 million tonnes of discarded items into landfill every year. 

GlobalData’s retail insight writer Deborah Williams asked Unmade co-founder and chief customer success officer Kirsty Emery-Laws, if on-demand is the key to fashion sustainability.

“I think that we’re at a really interesting point in the industry that up until now, sustainability has been kind of a buzzword in fashion – it hadn’t necessarily become anything once you scratch beneath the surface,” said Emery-Laws. 

“It was a nice idea but not a driving factor, whereas now, I think we are at a tipping point where it is starting to become a reality. 

“It is something that is becoming a leading principal at all levels. It is not just something that is nice to have anymore – it is becoming a must-have. And so I think the move we have, at the moment, is very interesting.”

Emery-Laws said the industry must look at where it is today and make it better. 

“It is not about starting again from scratch – it is about taking the knowledge. We have so much incredible knowledge within the fashion industry and it is [a matter of] taking it and building on it, rather than doing something that is new and scary.

“One of the disadvantages that we are currently looking at with on-demand is that we still have quite a lot of production that is far away from market. It is about how we can bring this closer to market, so that you are able to ship much faster. 

“When we’re working with our customers, quite a large part of the lead-time for the end customer is actually the shipping time. So it is about how we can help to reduce this.”

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