Build Your Business:

A Call to Sustainable Action in Decorated Apparel

By Adam Cort, Content Director

Don’t just show off your sustainable bona fides at trade shows. Make sure the general public knows as well!

April 28, 2023

Environmental awareness and a sensitivity to social justice in general have long been integral to much of the decorated apparel industry. Domestically sourced cotton, organic cotton, recycled polyester, fair-trade practices, you name it, the industry is in many ways doing its part; which is only right given the fashion and apparel industry is also a major polluter, currently responsible for 4 percent or more of greenhouse gasses globally, the same as Germany, France and the UK combined.

With that in mind, and in light of the QR codes and near-field-communication (NFC) chips now appearing on or in an increasing number of garments (features that allow consumers to download a garment’s entire manufacturing history), wouldn’t it be great to see the industry take its commitment to the environment and social justice to a whole new level. Specifically, wouldn’t it be great to see the industry to not just make an effort to reduce the amount of waste it produces internally, but actively engage with consumers in these areas as well.

Granted, this is already being done by a number of companies. However, the industry as a whole could do better. Checking in with the equipment and apparel companies that exhibit at Impressions Expo these days, sustainability and social justice is often front and center. However, this is all too often not the case when it comes to the industry’s interactions with the public as a whole, includes those same companies that are already making great stride internally. To them, I would say, “Wear you environmental bona fides on your sleeves! Don’t be afraid to brag! Don’t just discuss your commitment to corporate responsibility on the ‘about us’ page of your web page, put it right there at the top of every page.”

Leveraging NFC and QR Codes

Wouldn’t it be great to also see the industry as a whole taking advantage of today’s QR codes NFC chips to educate consumers as to where exactly the clothes they’re buying comes from, how their clothes are being made and the importance of their thinking globally when it comes to their buying decisions. Poll after poll shows today’s consumers really do care about these things, so let’s help them out by ensuring they have easy access to the information they both want and need.

Bottom line: in the same way decorated apparel is expressive of the beliefs of the industry’s customers, the industry needs to be equally expressive with respect to its commitment to social justice and sustainability. Only by taking its commitment to the next level can the decorated apparel business—and business in general—truly help make the world a better place, not only in the present, but for future generations as well.