Consumers are demanding transparency from brands about the sustainability of their production, but obtaining this information can be challenging. With so many stages in the supply chain, tracking product from source to point of sale requires comprehensive technology support. To that end, textile manufacturer Lenzing is partnering with traceability platform TextileGenesis, to help its customers gain full transparency.
Studies have shown that consumers favor brands who share their values, which increasingly include sustainable and ethical production. Even if a brand isn’t fully complaint yet, displaying clear efforts to improve environmental performance and acknowledging current issues can endear a brand to its consumer base. And the footwear and apparel industry is taking notice.
“With increasing compliance and reputational risks, CEOs and boards of top 100 fashion brands have committed to using 100% sustainable and traceable fibers over the next 5 years, with transparency being a core part of business priorities,” said Amit Gautam, CEO and founder of TextileGenesis. “Sustainability and traceability are two sides of the same coin and it’s great to see Lenzing paving the way for the entire fashion industry to follow.”
Lenzing is known for its sustainable fibers, notably TENCEL and ECOVERO, and therefore its customers are likely to be concerned about their broader environmental impact. And while recycled materials and eco-efficient textiles are helpful in improving a company’s sustainability, there are many stages in the product lifecycle that brands should be assessing.
But this multitude is what makes it difficult for brands to track, especially when different products are made with different partners. With the right tools, a brand can identify each step in the production journey and determine how compliant each of these supply partners are – and share this information with the end-consumer.
Through its partnership with TextileGenesis, Lenzing has made it possible to assign each fiber a digital fingerprint. Using blockchain technology, these fingerprints can be used to follow every shipment of fiber throughout its production journey; this also enables brands to authenticate product at any stage, including at final retail for customer verification. The system is also integrated with Lenzing’s E-Branding fabric certification, which allows brands to upload a forensic authentication of their textile for review.
The tracing technology is useful for all brands, but particularly when companies are making claims about sustainable performance. Definitions for “sustainable” differ amongst both brands and shoppers, so the term can provide more confusion than clarity when it’s not supported by specific data.
“Our brand partners have been encouraging us to accelerate the global roll-out for traceability of Lenzing fibers,” said Robert van de Kerkhof, CCO and board member of Lenzing. “With this new system, the entire Lenzing ecosystem will create an unprecedented level of transparency. This will provide consumers with the most sustainable and climate-friendly clothing and home textile products that are made of TENCEL or LENZING ECOVERO branded fibers.”
Following a 12-month pilot program, Lenzing will roll out the TextileGenesis partnership in stages. The first phase shall see Lenzing’s supply chain partners in South Asia – specifically India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – onboard the solution in Q4 2020. Additional partners in China and Turkey will be onboarded in Q1 2021, with most supply partners part of the system by the end of Q2 2021.