Blockchain – A guide to sustainable operations within the fashion industry.

Blockchain, an information technology system capable of storing information globally on thousands of servers. The system is meant to enhance social welfare and environmental performance while maintaining the supply chain’s profits. It is the perfect balancing effect for social, environmental and economic performance within the fashion apparel industry. The system is difficult to implement but it is not impossible because through the involvement of governments, blockchain will change the course of business as we know it. 

Sustainability, avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance. This definition is sufficient but it is does not encompass all that it should, sustainability should be seen as more than an ecological balance because when defined in this manner humans cannot find themselves in the definition and we need more people to identify with the concept. 

Many businesses would rather ignore the warning signs associated with climate change and the ever intensifying desertification of water sources to maintain profits and continue exploiting their employees. To counter this, I propose we look into ordering flexibility with information updating for the quick response supply chain program in fashion apparel by implementing sustainable operations through blockchain. 


Over production is one of the main issues caused by the fashion industry which threatens the sustainable development goals. This is caused by inadequate regulation within the industry and can only be fixed through data. In emerging markets like that of South Africa, market data can be difficult to work with due to significant data gaps, outdated or incorrect numbers and biased data making our data quality less than eligible. 

By implementing blockchain to the fashion industry’s operations, however, we will be opening up a new and improved way of doing business. Fashion companies will have the opportunity to employ market demand data to improve market forecasting for measures such as style, fit and colour selections. This method of data capturing will ensure that resources are used for specific motives necessary for sustainable operations within the industry’s supply chain, such as local sourcing.

By improving information technology systems in emerging economies, blockchain will be directly responsible for production regulations through sustainable operations. Fashion companies will have direct access to their client’s specific needs, while simultaneously improving the supply chain’s social and environmental welfare.

Sustainable Operations

Sustainable operations will require a change in policies within the supply chain. This can be characterised by changing suppliers, policies and the overall product of a specific producer. Many businesses are not inspired to do this unless forced by higher forces or bigger fashion institutions. This is why the involvement of governments is so essential where environmental and social welfare are concerned since most businesses are only motivated by profits. 

Blockchain will be instrumental in information updating, improving ordering flexibility to assist with quick responses for the supply chain. Improved ordering flexibility will inform businesses about who is more efficient for their businesses and organically make positive changes. It will also be easier to track whose methods are not sustainable, which will give governments the power to impose environmental taxes and encourage local sourcing. 

Many businesses still feel like sustainability is an option, but they could not be more inaccurate. When we talk about sustainability we are focusing on the future we are going to, unsustainable businesses will not survive in the future because their production methods will eventually seize to exist. This is why it is important to involve governments in this process because they have the power to implement policies. Carbon footprint taxes are even more essential in emerging markets so that we may be able to compete with established markets in the near future. 

Local sourcing, an efficient method that is not used to its full potential. The data available to small businesses is very limited and inefficient, and in most cases small and local suppliers are competing with each other instead of working together to grow their networks. With improved data, supported by the necessary comprehensive skills of the system, local businesses will understand that working together enables them to maximise their profits while being kind to the environment. 


Inadequate data is sustainability’s greatest obstacle but it can be fixed and improved. With the implementation of blockchain, more businesses stand to gain useful information without the pressure of added research costs. New alliances will be formed through digitised transactions and the ease with which to read them. This will be the beginning of the future and an attempt at centralising the supply chain.

Governments and fashion companies will work together to introduce carbon footprint taxes, encourage local associations and improve their information indexes making them accessible to everyone within the chain. This is the future of sustainable operations, ensuring access to information but under strict conditions which will eliminate corruption, too much concentrated power on the same people and allowing everyone within the association opportunities to contribute towards fixing sustainable fashion issues. This will help to identify the social issues within the industry and work to rectify them. 

Adopting sustainable operations can be difficult for anyone because change is not easy. Blockchain, however, is changing the way we think and act towards unsustainable practices within the fashion industry. We finally have the opportunity to ensure that new businesses in the industry do not ever have to adopt unsustainable production methods or be forced to take part in it because of the supply chain. We are at liberty now to create associations capable of maintaining their profits while being environmentally and socially responsible through reliable and useful data.  

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