Tailoring the Fashion Industry: The Power of Supply Chains

[:en]by Carly Morgan

On the 30th November, Cynnal Cymru – Sustain Wales’ welcomed four pioneers from the fashion industry to explore key issues along the supply chain in our latest event, ‘Tailoring the Fashion Industry: The Power of Supply Chains’. Our guest speakers approached the discussion from four different perspectives: academic, entrepreneurial, operational and aspirational; providing a comprehensive and insightful journey through one of the world’s most ubiquitous, yet shadowed industries and demonstrated the revolutionary action that is needed to disrupt business-as-usual.


Sally Grant – Designing with protectiveness in mind


Sustainable Fashion isn’t an instant hit – humans need time to digest the concept in order to adapt our perceptions and consumption choices. To address this, Sally embeds nature into her curriculum, and takes her students on regular outings in order to get inspiration, emphasizing the local and global dialogue and familiarizing them with the value and fragility of our world. As a result, one of her students interested in natural dye research set up a dye garden and researching unit; experimenting with natural dye in the kitchen. This approach to teaching is a leap towards cultivating contemplative and globally-aware leaders for the future, guiding the new generation into embodying the concept of sustainability, and fabricating these values and attitudes into their work.

“Fashion is an amazing global communicator – which can unify and connect people of different cultures and values, where politics cannot”.

Sally Grant, a Senior Textiles Lecturer at Cardiff Metropolitan University. As a BA Smart Textiles Master, she bases her research on fashionable, wearable technology. Sally discussed how textiles apply to wider industries other than Fashion, exploring the mythological aspect of protectiveness and how important it is to consider long term commitment to sustainability. 



Alexandra Wall – Xandra Jane – brand values, ethics and transparency of supply chain

alexandra wall

Alexandra’s story starts with her own experience as a fashion intern in the competitive, haute couture industry where she experienced unfair treatment and a wasteful approach to design. This experience has shaped her values and approach to setting up a business that is both high end, ethical and transparent. Her focus is on producing zero waste garments that tell a story of how they were made.

The Xandra Jane line explores sustainable design and techniques through zero waste processing and up cycling unloved garments into high end, unique luxury. She ensures efficient Yarn usage through employing a ‘pattern cutting’ method in the garment production, which optimizes the material and minimizes waste. The line also addresses the importance of transparency and accountability by being 100% traceable and sourced within the UK, naming the people who are involved in the production of the clothes. Xandra Jane also explores gender fluidity and equality, positioning each garment as androgynous and available to all.  In 2017 her new Spring & Summer line will be released to advocate upcycling, in an attempt to destroy the taboo of second hand clothes. ‘Crys’ (which is Welsh for ‘Shirt’) is looking to transform shirts into backpacks – embodying the idea of reducing, reusing, and recycling. Sustainability and ethics can be high end and the industry could do a lot more to encourage this. Check out her collection here:


‘We need to stop competing and start supporting in all areas of business’’


Charles Ross – changing the Lens


Consuming has increasingly become a leisure activity; emotions and self-identity can be the driving force of our consumption habits. In Britain, adults spend £1000 on garments every year, which makes the market worth £50 billion. According to WRAP, the average number of clothing items owned by UK adults is 115. That’s a total of 5,744,000,000 in the UK; nearly as many pieces of clothing as there are people in the world.  The ‘Going Green’ campaign has been greenwashed by marketers to the extent that it’s no longer effective – people have become desensitized to its meaning, and therefore have no emotional involvement with its connotations.

Buy Once, Buy Right.

“There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper. The people who consider price only are this man’s lawful prey. When you pay too much, you lose a little money – that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do” – John Ruskin

Charles is an expert in the world of textiles, specialising in Performance Sportswear Design. He’s a member of the Sustainability Working Team of the European Outdoor Group, and of WRAP’s Influencing Consumer Behaviour Committee. One of his many interests lie with the trade-off between the function and fantasy of fashion. 


Cecile Martin, WRAP UK

CecileMartin WRAP

Rethink, Re-invent, And Re-define: –WRAP has published the sustainable clothing guide to advise the public on how to make their clothes last longer, and to draw attention to the ongoing issue of fast fashion. WRAP’s Sustainable Clothing Action Plan, (SCAP) 2020 Commitment has 80+ high end signatories such as ASOS, John Lewis, Ted Baker to name a few. They’ve significantly influenced product design through to creating textiles and clothing, focusing on the concept stage while examining opportunities for encouraging early, impactful design decisions.


Cecile is the Textiles Technical Specialist for WRAP UK, whose vision is a world in which all resources are used sustainably. Cecile works with leading clothing brands to drive more resource efficient behaviour and provides guidance for strategy and design which helps businesses successfully take action to reduce their carbon, water and waste footprints. Cecile’s primary focus is finding practical ways to extend the useful life of clothes and helping companies connect their sustainability work with consumers’ needs, through WRAP’s consumer-facing campaign Love Your Clothes.

View the storify here. 


Explore further:

Huit Denim is a Sportswear brand using Organic Cotton on a large scale – denim products that last a lifetime. They have Exhibition of work in national botanical gardens.

Lucy Orta was heavily involved in providing clothes for the refugee War in 1992-1998, and explored the concept of wearing your environment.

Assin Yaki is a Japanese Designer who experienced the Hiroshoma Disaster which killed his family. He went to Paris during the 60’s riots, and developed technology which used plastic bottles to create sportswear designs.

Cathy Treadway looks into ‘designing for happiness’ which seeks to help people with dementia and their families.

Jen Evans was the Student Entrepreneur of the Year (Wales) for her venture ‘Jenny Evnas Designs’, which uses upcycled and second hand materials, from old showroom fabric books to repurposed scarves.

Patagonia is a pioneering brand who proposed the Common Threads Initiative with the real solution: Reduce, Repair and Reuse before you recycle. They offer their staff numerous voluntary opportunities, and take pride in their ethical supply chain.

Haglofs & Houdini: Leasing models for clothing, reducing waste and overproduction

Howies / Loveyourclothes.org.uk: Repairing your clothes and workshops to demonstrate this

Gift your Gear: Outdoor clothes charity which asks the public to donate their unwanted or unused outdoor wear to youth groups and charities working with young people in the outdoors.

Vivienne Westwood: Buy less, choose well, make it last.

Upcycling – Evlis & Kresse, Made by Scavenger, Freitag, Arc’teryx Birds Nest Project, Outdoor Waste Lab

Down-cycling: Worn Again, Amaterrace, Finisterre, Eco Circle / EcoNyl / Ecodear

Annie Leonard, the Story of Stuff

‘The Great Recovery’ – Redesigning the future

‘Do Wales’ – July 6th – 9th Abbey ‘Road of Mind’

Further Reading:


EUCAP: The European equivalent of the SCAP 2020, with higher focus on durability of materials.


‘Let My People Go Surfing’ – Yvon Chouinard


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