Fashion supply chain: Breaking it down

When we shop (often without realizing it), we are part of a complex chain. Ever wondered who made your clothes? What kind of life are they leading? We can track the impact of our fashion choices and lives on the people we touch when brands have transparent supply chain. The reality is that supply chains are complicated and not very transparent.

The clothing supply chain is often a complex network of individuals involved at every level of production. This can make it hard for companies to track the origin of different components of their products. Ania Zöltkowski, a slow fashion entrepreneur, has broken down the process one step at a a time right here.

What is a supply chain for clothing?

Clothing, textiles and footwear are extremely labour-intensive industries. The fashion industry is estimated to employ tens or even hundreds of millions of garment workers around the world.

What is the clothing supply chain? Fashion supply chain is the process that traces each step in the manufacturing of clothes, from the sourcing of raw materials to the factories, where these materials are turned into garments, and finally the distribution network, by which clothes are delivered to customers. The process is long and rare. It’s very uncommon for raw materials, to be produced, then processed, and finally sold, all in the same location.

This global supply chain is made up of millions of people, tonnes of chemicals, crops and oil, as well as thousands of people. It is through this process that your clothes reach your wardrobe. In the last twenty years, there’s been a push towards high-speed, high-volume, and low-cost consumption. fast-fashion is known to be harmful to environment, humans, and animals. As a result of the rise in consumerism, tragedies such as the collapsed Rana Plaza factory, Bangladesh, also occurred.


Details of fabrics, shapes, trims and finishes are determined during the design stage. Clothing is designed for a limited lifespan because it’s based on the latest trends. Fast fashion is the reason for so much clothing being thrown away in landfills. According to , 92 million tonnes textiles are thrown away every year. This is equivalent to one rubbish truck of clothing being disposed of on landfills every second. It’s become commonplace to throw out old clothes in favor of the latest styles.

Considered design, or “slow-fashion”, considers all phases of the clothing supply chains. Designers consider the impact of the materials, production and consumer use to minimize the negative effects on the environment.

Many brands are moving away from the fast-fashion’s increasing pace and towards a more sustainable approach. Labels are increasingly adopting the Cradle to Cradle framework. Cradle to Cradle, a philosophy for responsible design, states that products should be designed in accordance with one of two cycles (a source).

  1. The biological cycle is the process of returning products to nature in a harmless manner.
  2. Industrial cycle: the recycling of non-degradable materials closes the loop.

Producing materials

Textile production is a complex process that involves growing or creating raw textile materials, spinning them into fibres, weaving them into fabrics, dyeing and finishing.

Textile manufacturing is a major source of pollution due to the high levels of greenhouse gases and contamination in air and water.