IAF’s mission is to unite all stakeholders of the fashion and apparel industry, ncluding brands, retailers, manufacturers, suppliers and country associations from around the world to enable and promote smarter, stronger, more sustainable supply chains. IAF’s focus on the supply chain stems from its unique membership structure with members representing (SME) brands and retailers as well as manufacturers, catering to the needs of buyers and suppliers.
Supply Chain Collaboration
The ability to speak to the needs of both the buying and the selling parties and therefore to the operation of the supply chain as a whole, has taken on additional meaning in a time when an already structurally struggling industry is jolted by a global crisis of consumer demand. The importance of collaboration in the supply chain has been at the core of IAF’s message shared with every one of its annual World Fashion Conventions in the past decade. But the pandemic has made really clear that the keys to building a better (measured on the scales of people, planet and profit) apparel industry can be found in the operation of the supply chain, including the processes, the relations, the contracts and the flow of finance that comprise it.
Transition in Sourcing
It is our conviction that the solutions to escape from the deflationary spiral the industry has ended up in can largely be found upstream. The apparel industry is making a transition to a sourcing model based on flexibility and the reduction of uncertainty. The current predominant adversarial relations in the supply chain are a barrier to this transition. Flexibility requires investments in processes that stretch across the supply chain and so these processes can only be carried out when buyers and their suppliers work together.
IAF’s call for supply chain solidarity given in March of 2020, was therefore much more than a call to right an obvious wrong. Buyers’ conduct at the start of the pandemic often was the exact opposite of collaboration and the breach of trust created caused damage to supply chains that needs to be repaired. After our call for solidarity IAF has formulated a strategy for strengthening supply chains that will help repair this damage, prevent new damage and will go much further to contribute to the creation of a stronger, smarter and more sustainable industry. IAF’s strategy is based on the following six priorities, listed on the following page in no particular order.
In 2021 therefore, IAF’s fulfillment of its mission to unite the industry to enable and to promote stronger, smarter and more sustainable supply chain will be focused on:
- Contract and equity
- Institutional infrastructure
- Education and training
- Greener industry
This choice is guided by the urgency of the need for industry transition and by the IAF’s unique global network, uniting (SME) brands, manufacturers and their associations. In the past years, IAF has already developed the partnerships, participations and projects to make a difference in these six focus areas. In 2021, our involvement in these areas will take the shape of:
- Spreading the message of these six 2021 priority issues and the context and relation to IAF’s mission through our events and publications, including the 36th IAF World Fashion Convention to be held in Antwerp and through our speaking roles in other, global and local events.
- Participation in global initiatives including already the ILO led Garment Industry Call to Action and the OECD led work on human rights due diligence on behalf of our membership.
- Developing and leading projects, including already the Standards Convergence Initiative with ITMF and the Manufacturer’s Payment and Delivery Terms project with STAR Network and with more projects to follow.
- Extending services to our members, developed with partners to specifically suit the specific needs of IAF’s member associations and their members, related to the above six 2021 priority issues and other issues important to IAF members.