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Climate Change Impacting Fashion Supply Chains

Fiber producers and other industry players need future-facing strategies

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Extreme weather events are already having a major impact on fashion’s supply chains. Vogue Business took a look at how these events are becoming more common, and what suppliers might have to do in the future.

One such episode was the unusually strong monsoon rains that ravaged Pakistan this past summer, with floods affecting over 30 million people and around 40 percent of the annual cotton yield, according to the country’s government.

And in the U.S., the largest cotton exporter globally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is forecasting a 28 percent annual decline in supply due to drought in Texas. Other top producers —including India, Brazil, China and Turkey — whose products include silk, wool and forest fibers — are at risk, as well as South Asia and Africa, where cashmere, sisal and jute are produced, says Shameek Ghosh, co-founder and CEO of supply chain traceability platform TrusTrace.

“Right now, we’re seeing the volatility of natural fiber supply increase due to extreme weather,” Ghosh told Vogue Business. “We need to wake up to the fact that everything is at risk, and we will need to continuously manage and work on step-by-step reduction of this risk going forward.”

To understand the climate risks in their supply chains, brands first need to invest in transparency and traceability, says Ghosh. This can help them map vulnerable regions, as well as ensuring ethical practices. Beyond that, the fashion industry and its suppliers will need to pursue a variety of future-facing solutions, including: regenerative agriculture, diversifying supply chains across climates and finding ways to reduce the use of new natural fibers.

For more, read the Vogue Business article.

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