Why the fashion industry needs to take control of its supply chain
The founder and CEO of Son of a Tailor: It’s an open secret that the clothing industry has a huge problem with overproduction. It’s also notorious for inhumane working conditions. What both issues have in common is that they are deeply linked to the industry’s opaque supply chain.
17 Jun 2024

A long line of suppliers and sub-suppliers spans the globe with few brands knowing exactly who does what and where under which standards. With upcoming legislation and the EU Product Passport, the pressure is on: brands need to take control of their supply chains if they are to comply and perhaps even more importantly, drive the change that’s so urgently needed. 

The recent Global Fashion Summit in our hometown Copenhagen showed clearly, after 15 years of talk, it’s time to walk if not run.

Let’s be honest, this is a massive challenge and most likely, not all brands will survive this transformation but to put it frankly, there’s no alternative. The good news is, however, that this is also a valuable opportunity for those willing to embrace it. 

By taking control of their supply chain, brands have more to gain than a seat on the side of the “good guys.” They increase flexibility and innovation while reducing costs and complexity. How? The key word is vertical integration.

In many ways, vertical integration is the antithesis of the paradigm that the industry has been operating under for the last decades. The maxime was to outsource whatever possible to wherever it’s cheapest and consequently, push responsibility further down the supply chain. 

But as an unintended consequence, brands also lost valuable expertise and access to driving change directly. By taking the opposite route, by vertically integrating their supply chain, they not only take responsibility for how their clothing is made but they also regain control and knowledge. Both are indispensable for real change to happen. And to leap further benefits of vertical integration.

Only if you have deep insights into the processes that go into turning your designs into the garments that will later be worn by your customers can you optimise in order to improve the customer experience and lower costs. Yes, both at the same time. Sounds too good to be true? It’s not.

Because we’ve done it. A bit more than a year ago, Son of a Tailor bought its own production in Portugal. This allowed us to restructure all processes exactly to our needs as a made-to-order brand. Consequently, delivery times went down, costs went down, and product quality went up. Call it a great business case or whatever you want. 

Taking control of the supply chain is a necessity from a sustainability perspective and it makes business sense too. So what are we waiting for?

Inside Son of a Tailor’s production facility in Portugal.
Jess Fleischer.