Strategic Proposals for Sustainable Supply Chains in the Fast Fashion Industry : Exploring ways to incorporate concepts and methods to confront the damaging effects of the industry

Detta är en Master-uppsats från KTH/Industriell ekonomi och organisation (Inst.)

Sammanfattning: Accounted as the second largest cause of pollution, the fashion industry is only behind the petroleum industry worldwide. In recent decades, the supply chains of retail companies have become international with the growth of a global economy. As a result, fashion companies have increasingly shifted their supply chains into developing countries with cheaper labour. The shift is made possible due to their lower environmental awareness and looser environmental regulatory systems. This dominant business model within the clothing industry has gained enormous traction within recent decades and has been coined with the term fast fashion. However, due to the negative economic, social and environmental impact, mainly in developing countries, fast fashion companies increasingly focus on sustainability efforts within their supply chains to ensure the same quality and standards in production and working conditions. The thesis seeks to investigate what efforts have to be done within the supply chains of fast fashion companies in order to become more sustainable. A case study is conducted with a fashion retailer based in Sweden, referred to as Company X, through several semi-structured interviews in order to explore how Company X manages to keep a competitive advantage through its extensive sustainability efforts within its supply chain. The findings and analysis of this study show that there are numerous supply chain strategies for improvements, including sustainable manufacturing, eco-material preparations, green distribution, ethical consumers and reshoring vs. offshoring strategies. The major competitive advantages that are achieved according to the company itself come from; a shift from labour-intensive suppliers to capital-intensive, strong brand image, credibility, increase in ethical consumers, partnerships, transparency and traceability. Conclusively, purchasing from capital-intensive suppliers rather than labour-intensive suppliers will yield new innovative solutions for technologically advanced eco-material as well as efficiency in the production process. Furthermore, it was found that for a reshoring strategy to become the norm in the near future, extensive work and research is required. Lastly, as consumers' behaviour shifts towards a more ethical mindset, traditional fast fashion companies will continue to lose an important customer segment if no changes are made.

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