April '20

For the Business of Apparel Decorating

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2 0 2 0 A P R I L P R I N T W E A R 3 9 message or responsible apparel rounds out a sustainable shop's offerings, businesses must ensure they're sourcing authentically- and ethically-made garments. As Newman previously mentioned, transparency is key. Not only for shops serving customers but for suppliers and distributors serving shops. It's an apparel company's job to disclose cer- tifications or stamps that identify them as an accredited, responsible option. Bilyk encourages shops to search for key- words within the sites of large distributors, as well as follow industry resources and at- tend trade shows where individuals have their finger on the pulse of this topic. Ad- ditionally, shops are encouraged to do good, hard research into the products they're in- terested in offering because, in the end, they'll be the ones accountable, according to Newman. Being aware of a company's CSR guidelines is a good start. Beyond that, sources suggest shops keep an eye out for these certifications and stamps: • Quality Certification Alliance (QCA) • OEKO-TEX • Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) • Bluesign • Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) Duff notes that amfori BSCI-audited fac- tories can also be regarded and trusted as responsible. Amfori requires brands to have knowledge of and invest in their supply chains. Additionally, Duff says AS Colour is on board with the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) and the work it does to train farmers and encourage sustainable cotton produc- tion. Educating and exploring what these dif- ferent verification companies and certifi- cations stand for is a good start for shops looking to source responsible apparel. Edu- cation is especially important, Newman says, as conversations around responsible garments are shifting. They've gone from focusing on "specific eco-friendly parts and pieces to discussions around entire supply chains," Newman says. "Not every- one can own their own supply chain, but they should hold their suppliers to the same standards they have set for themselves, and they must be able to demonstrate that." Looking at the broader scheme of busi- nesses striving for corporate social respon- sibility (CSR), responsible apparel has its place. This category of clothing puts a focus on working conditions and the use of re- sources. There's an element of social respon- sibility, as well as environmental steward- ship, says Gigot. The treatment of people, as well as the en- vironment, are two boxes that responsible apparel checks. As sustainability continues to be a pillar in the CSR model, Bilyk says, responsible apparel is a viable option that makes a real impact without "breaking the bank." PW goods along with end users knowing they have the power to enact change through educated buying habits has pushed this ap- parel category beyond just another fashion fad. So, what's driving the need for change? According to Bilyk, it's rising sea levels and extreme weather conditions, indicative of climate change. "It's becoming harder to ignore," Bilyk says. "More and more indi- vidual consumers are looking to make a dif- ference by buying sustainable." At this point, Newman says, offering re- sponsible apparel is "now the cost of entry in this market." She notes that transpar- ency is a must, and customers need to know where products have been and if they repre- sent responsibility. Gigot agrees that responsible apparel, along with the sustainability piece, is more than just a trend. "The growth we are seeing in this product category is a symptom of a broader movement. What science is telling us, and what consumers are realizing, is that we have to take action to address environ- mental concerns," says Gigot. "It is each business' responsibility to identify ways to reduce the impact of their products." More- over, SanMar's trend editor Vicki Ostrom points out that Gen Z shoppers are labeled as conscious buyers and hold a buying power of $143 billion in the U.S. In fact, between 2018 –2019, 68% of them made an eco-friendly purchase. "That data alone proves that responsible products are not just a trend but constitute solid bankable choic- es for brands to consider," Ostrom says. While this product category has gained traction and sources believe it's here to stay, Bilyk states there are still conversations tak- ing place about increasing exposure and its availability to end wearers. SOURCING RESPONSIBLY Article sources pledge the case for why re- sponsible apparel has made its name in the industry and why it's here to stay, which gives shops good reason to consider offer- ing it to customers. Whether it makes sense for the right customer with a specific brand 720-746-9075 | Free Shipping On Supply Orders Over $ 99 Screen printing supplies, Siser HTV supplies, and Equipment.

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