The clothing, textiles, and footwear industry is incredibly labour intensive. It is estimated that the fashion industry employs tens of millions of garment workers worldwide.
But what is a clothing supply chain exactly? The fashion supply chain refers to the process of tracing each step of the clothes manufacturing process, from sourcing of the raw materials, to the factories where those materials are made into garments; and the distribution network by which the clothes are delivered to consumers. It’s a lengthy process, and it’s extremely rare for raw materials to be grown, processed, sewn, and sold all in one location.
The global clothing supply chain involves millions of people as well as tonnes of water, chemicals, crops, and oil. This is what makes it possible for your clothing to reach your wardrobe. Within the last 20 years, there has been an increased push for high speed, high volume, and cheap consumption. As we know, fast fashion can be terribly damaging to the environment, people and animals. Tragedies, such as the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh, have also happened, as consumerism started being valued over a transparent, safe, and ethical supply chain.