Fashion Updates

Global Organizations Advocate Sustainable Digital Labels

Published: July 24, 2023
Author: Fashion Value Chain

The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA), alongside the International Apparel Federation (IAF) and 128 other organizations worldwide, has issued a joint appeal to global, national, and local authorities. In a joint letter, they are urging for the modernization of labelling requirements in the domestic textile, garment, footwear, and related accessories industry. The objective is to adopt more sustainable and economically viable digital labels, reducing waste and promoting a greener approach to necessary labelling information.

This collective appeal brings together a varied alliance of leading figures in the fashion and sportswear industries, as well as key players and pioneers in the sector. Signatories include representatives from various materials such as leather, wool, and textiles, as well as advocates for sustainability, circularity, and authenticity in the fashion industry, according to a press release by the AAFA.

Estimates suggest that existing regulations contribute to the production of approximately 5.7 million miles, equivalent to about 9.2 million kilometres, of label tape each year. To put it in perspective, this amount of tape could cover the distance from Earth to the moon and back twelve times over annually.

Steve Lamar, President and CEO of AAFA, highlights the changing consumer expectations: “Consumers today want more information with less waste. If digital labels are embraced, numerous possibilities await us. The integration of digital labels would offer buyers comprehensive and precise insights regarding the textiles, apparel, footwear, and associated accessories they are contemplating to purchase, encompassing extensive information about materials and origins. Utilizing digital labels would also enable greater visibility throughout the garment’s lifecycle, such as details about resale, repair, rental, upcycling, and recycling. This shift towards greener e-labelling is seen as a crucial step towards a more responsible and agile global industry.

The industry groups argue that implementing digital labels would significantly reduce labelling waste and contribute to decarbonization efforts, potentially eliminating at least 343,000 MT of CO2e from industry supply chains. Recognizing the growing demand for traceability, transparency, and accountability in the fashion industry’s global value chain, the letter implores supranational, national, and local authorities to update outdated and complex labelling requirements. The aim is to provide consumers with more accessible information through sustainable e-labelling.

Matthijs Crietee, Secretary General of IAF, emphasizes the need for collaboration and coordination to achieve digital labelling on a global scale: “It is crystal clear we need to progress to digital labelling for apparel and footwear. The global environment needs it, the industry wants it, and consumers are expecting it.” The letter stresses the importance of removing outdated legislative obstacles and urges authorities to work together to embrace modern garment and footwear labelling practices.

The collective call for action demonstrates a shared commitment to a more sustainable future for the fashion industry. The adoption of digital labels is seen as an essential step towards reducing waste, improving transparency, and meeting evolving consumer expectations. The organizations involved believe that only through joint efforts and global coordination can the industry overcome existing barriers and accelerate the adoption of digital labelling practices.

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