The UK fashion industry is the largest employer of all the creative industries (BFC Value of Fashion Report, 2010). It is important for fashion and textiles to work with the most skilled and talented people in the most innovative ways, but while we protect that process how can we help safeguard sustainability?
The fashion and textiles sector utilises many materials to create very diverse product types, and an obvious by-product of making goods is the waste that is generated during the process.
Companies are required, often by law, to dispose of their different types of waste appropriately, with an increasing importance placed on disposal of raw materials for reuse and recycling.
London Fashion Week has drawn attention to some of the most sustainable businesses out there through its Estethica programme. Now in its 12th season Estethica showcases designers who have commitment to working in a sustainable way as well as for their design excellence. All designers adhere to at least one of the key Estethica principles of fair trade and ethical practice in the production process; the inclusion of organic fibres and the use of up-cycled and recycled fabrics and materials.
To help those designers and manufacturers who have not yet got to grips with sustainability Skillset has produced the first set of Standards for Sustainability in Manufacturing for the fashion and textiles industry.
The Standards have been developed by both people who work in the industry and experts from each occupational area through a process of investigation, analysis and consultation with a wide range of people.
Small business can benefit from the step-by-step guide within Develop a sustainability policy (PDF), while the unit Dispatch recyclables and other materials (PDF) provides any employer with a plan for implementing increased recycling in the workplace.
In an age of upcycling and repurposing, creative individuals who are committed to sustainability can learn from the unit Collect fabric cut-offs and raw material waste for reuse or recycling (PDF).
Overall the Standards can be used in:
- Recruitment and selection;
- Drawing up person specifications and job descriptions;
- Competence assessments;
- Succession and career development activities;
- Training design and delivery;
- Designing reward systems.
Skillset has put together a series of guides to help employers use Standards throughout their businesses, which you can find out more about here.