I am pleased to introduce the January 2011 issue of the University of Delaware FIBER journal, which focuses on sustainability in the global apparel industry. As CEO of Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) over the past 15 years, I have had the opportunity to work with many apparel brands, retailers and suppliers leading the fashion sectorâ€™s efforts in sustainability. The industryâ€™s work initially focused on human rights and labor standards in the vast global supply chains used to manufacture the products of well–known companies. More recently, most companies have expanded their sustainability efforts to incorporate consideration of environmental impacts and efficient use of materials. The innovative work of companies like Nike, Levi Strauss & Co., Walmart, Gap and others has shown how business innovation and sustainability go hand in hand. In this issue of FIBER, you will find articles highlight the positive results on energy use and worker well–being made by two less well–known, but entrepreneurial, organizations—Anvil Knitwear and MarketPlace: Handwork of India.
Despite the progress the apparel industry has made in sustainability, the articles on purchasing practices illustrate how the day–to–day practices involved in bringing products to market can be barriers to progress on creating lasting changes in health and safety, labor and environmental conditions in garment factories. And with natural resource prices, especially cotton, on the rise, and consumers more price-sensitive than ever, these challenges are only growing more acute. With these trends likely to deepen, the imperative to shift from business as usual is stronger than ever.
Fortunately, the articles in this issue of FIBER also point the way forward. Indeed, the story about students, who through travel and study are broadening and deepening their understanding of the challenges facing the apparel industry, reminds readers that a new generation of professionals will propel companies towards that more sustainable future.
On behalf of the editors of the FIBER journal, we are glad to have you as a reader and welcome your feedback. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
The FIBER (Fashion International Business Education Response) project is an outreach initiative led by the University of Delaware; startup funding was provided by the U.S. Department of Education. Our mission is to showcase fashion and apparel markets around the world, share the insights of leaders in the industry and the latest academic research on critical issues, highlight opportunities for further education and provide a forum for the exchange of ideas, connecting members of our community around the globe.