Sustainable Fashion Production on Demand Is No Sweat(shops)

Robert Zoch
February 15, 2022

According to a recent piece in Harvard Business Review, “The Myth of Sustainable Fashion,” the fashion industry has provided one of the loudest voices advocating for eco-conscious production practices—while its efforts to achieve that ideal have proven largely fruitless. Cost and production efficiency gains have largely resulted in overproduction, while efforts towards transparency, recycling, bio-based materials, and alternative business models do not offset the reality that “the urge to sell more and get consumers to buy more is still in the DNA of the industry,” and “clothes have a very short life span and end up in the dump.”

Undeterred, the Fashion Sustainability and Social Accountability Act was introduced in the New York State Assembly on January 7. In summary, the proposed legislation:

Requires fashion retail sellers and manufacturers to disclose environmental and social due diligence policies; establishes a community benefit fund for the purpose of implementing one or more environmental benefit projects that directly and verifiably benefit environmental justice communities.

According to Forbes, one of the bill’s primary advocates, New Standard Institute Founder and Director Maxine Bédat, cited California’s efforts in mandating responsible business practices to elevate key industries as a model for New York playing an active role in spurring more sustainable fashion standards.

“This legislation will require companies to perform mandatory due diligence to identify, prevent, mitigate, and account for actual and potential adverse social and environmental impacts in their supply chain,” she said. “New Yorkers have a powerful role to play in ensuring industries are practicing ethical standards in labor and environmental sustainability while at the same time ensuring a thriving local industry.”

While the legislation is currently being debated, it’s worth noting New York Governor Kathy Hochul did personally attend New York Fashion Week in the early weeks of her term. Fashion designer Stella McCartney has come out as an early proponent of the bill.

In addition to addressing concerns of greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, and carbon footprint in the fashion industry, the bill’s efforts to heighten accountability for ethical labor practices also reflect broad, growing sentiment to ensure enterprises address pervasive human rights concerns throughout their supply chains, as well.

The sentiments behind this legislation would appear to align with our continuous commitment to empowering fashion producers to achieve sustainable, responsible production practices, as outlined in our 2020 Impact Report.

30% of fashion production is overproduction—apparel that goes unworn, to landfills, or unloaded for a loss. By enabling on-demand production, Kornit technology stands to eliminate this waste, aligning demand and supply. Furthermore, Kornit systems eliminate up to 95% of all water waste and 83% of greenhouse gas emissions from the textile production process, relative to traditional analog routines, in addition to consuming up to 94% less energy.

Our inks and consumables meet rigorous industry standards for safety and environmental compliance. Kornit-enabled on-demand production creates opportunities to produce nearer the end-consumer, eliminating logistical waste, sidestepping ethical concerns related to outsourcing offshore, and minimizing production cycles while enabling profitability even in regions as expensive and highly regulated as California—or New York.

Whether or not it takes the form of New York’s Fashion Sustainability and Social Accountability Act—or similar legislation likely to emerge in other jurisdictions—the call for transparent, ethical production practices continues to grow louder and louder, ready to disrupt a historically troubled industry that needs to adapt or die at the hands of today’s conscientious, web-driven consumers. With efficient, responsible, versatile, digital production technology, meeting their challenge no longer means sacrificing profitability, quality, or control. Indeed, see and feel what Kornit’s innovative fashion and textile production systems can deliver, and you’ll understand that in 2022, efficient fashion production on demand is no sweat(shops).