Where the future of the UK apparel industry lies

To achieve a more sustainable future, the UK apparel industry must embrace technology, collaborate across the supply chain, promote employee well-being and win buy-in from the very top, according to "Talking strategy: what will drive the UK apparel industry going forward?" - an 11-page report from the global business information company Textiles Intelligence.

Technology will form the backbone of the industry's strategy of achieving sustainability. In fact, digital technologies will represent an essential component in the delivery of the change which the industry requires in order to realise a more sustainable future.

For the most part, the technology already exists to support this, and it can help with a number of sustainability initiatives - including supply chain traceability, reducing materials usage, delivering greater business resilience through better planning, intelligent market management and channel allocation, and the adoption of new business models.

However, digital transformation can require significant investment. As a result, commitment to change needs to come from the top. Without buy-in at senior level and strategic implementation, digital transformation will not be achieved and initiatives will not succeed.

Furthermore, without top level support and an integrated transformation programme, efforts may be hindered by a lack of alignment on targets and a failure to understand the changes to operating models and capabilities which are required.

As well as digital technologies, the apparel industry must embrace collaboration if it is to achieve a more sustainable future and adapt to current and future challenges. Importantly, collaboration must occur up the supply chain, down the supply chain, and from peer to peer. Also, it must be fair and equal, and all voices must be heard.

Too often, suppliers and manufacturers are not represented when the industry comes together and it will not be possible to achieve transformation without them. Also, it is essential that big brands do not railroad smaller ones, and that there is a sharing of learning between competitors.

Furthermore, in order to effectively manage the challenges facing the industry, there is a need for employees who are skilled and knowledgeable, and are supported in creating the transformative solutions which will deliver beneficial outcomes for their organisations and the industry.

Creating a positive environment by promoting employee well-being is key to building a productive workforce which is able to focus on achieving higher organisational performance and can address current and future sustainability goals.

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