In search of sustainability -The apparel supply chain of the future

September 1, 2021

Serai partnered with the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) and Apparel Impact Institute (AII) on a webinar titled “In search of sustainability - The apparel supply chain of the future” on 1 September 2021.


Stephen Lamar, President and CEO of American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA);

Lewis Perkins, President of Apparel Impact Institute (AII);

Vivek Ramachandran, CEO of Serai.

We've summarised key insights here. You may also view the full recording here.

1/ From marketing sustainable to actually being sustainable 

A decade ago, sustainability might just be one of retailers’ many marketing strategies. It is now becoming part of their core DNA. Brands actually want to make a difference and are willing to devote their resources into sustainable solutions for a greener future. However, the adoption rate varies amongst the industry. Most brands are either in the stage of searching for suitable solutions based on their operational needs, or beginning to implement solutions, as speakers shared from their interactions with industry players.   

2/ From buyer initiatives to supplier proactiveness

Pressure is increasing for manufacturers to go green, be sustainable and transparent. Yet they are rarely incentivised to do so. A trusted and balanced relationship between buyers and suppliers is essential to get manufacturers to commit to transparent and sustainable production, and share key supply chain data. By being proactive about transparency and collaboration, manufacturers are at a better position to be part of the ecosystem and build stronger relationships with brands. This could not only have a positive impact on revenue for manufacturers, but potentially an increase in efficiency  by minimizing efforts in conducting due diligence, eventually resulting in stable and long term sourcing relationships.

3/ From scattered actions to a common language 

The lack of communication and continuity across tiers of manufacturers and buyers stops the efficient flow of data and information. It does not matter whether brands have an extensive partner network globally or an intimate one locally, what matters is having visibility throughout and access to the right data, so that brands can expand or reshape their network based on alignment of interests and values. Sustainability goals are more achievable when every industry player is making informed decisions based on the seamless exchange of data.

“The question isn’t so much on what you are doing but are you able to explain it, both with your supply chain and to external stakeholders.” Stephen Lamar, President and CEO of AAFA

The interactive session also gathered viewpoints of the audience comprising both brands and manufacturers on common supply chain challenges in the apparel industry. 

It is no surprise that sustainability is high on their agenda, if not number one. From the attention sustainability is getting from various industry players, regulators and end-consumers, it’s time for everyone to explore the best approach to tackle the issues.


Here are some steps brands and manufacturers can take in building and achieving transparency in their global supply chains, and eventually getting closer to their sustainability goals:

1. Set up a dedicated task force internally focuses on setting and achieving sustainability goals, and building transparency in their extended supply chain
2. Participate in programs offered by associations like the Apparel Impact Institute (AII) 
3. Implement technology platforms, such as Serai, that can help you digitise supply chain data, map out your supply chain and gain deeper insights into your existing supply chain 

Sustainability needs to be embedded in every stage for a company to be truly successful at it. This has never been easy. Companies across the apparel industry are facing similar challenges. The lack of data collection and exchange hinder suppliers and buyers to realise their sustainability goals. As your supply chain grows, the challenges just get bigger. A consolidated platform that allows users to track and visualise your extensive partner network may ease problems and get you closer to your ultimate goal. 

Book a demo of Serai’s Supply Chain Solution now to explore new ways of achieving your sustainability goals with your partners, be it upstream or downstream.