The Sustainable Fashion Lab is a national, multi-sectoral platform for collaboration and innovation that consists of approximately, 40 leaders, and aims to address and transform the main challenges of Brazil’s fashion industry. The project was initially convened by an alliance consisting of Abit – the Brazilian Textile and Apparel Industry Association, ABVTEX – the Brazilian Association of Textile Retail, and the ILO – International Labor Organization, with the C&A Institute as a founding partner, and support provided by Pernambucanas. Reos Partners coordinated the project.
Recognizing that a situation is unacceptable or unsustainable, that an isolated actor cannot change the system, that direct changes are impossible or insufficient, and that there is the will to transform current reality are the starting point for a transformative scenarios process. To build future scenarios is an exercise in suspending our wishes and our answers, to look beyond our predictions and projections, and to open ourselves to think up a variety of possible futures.
TRANSFORMATIVE SCENARIOS ARE STORIES ABOUT WHAT COULD HAPPEN IN THE FUTURE. THEY ARE NEITHER PREDICTIONS OF WHAT WILL HAPPEN, NOR RECOMMENDATIONS FOR WHAT SHOULD HAPPEN. THEY CHALLENGE US TO ACT, SO THAT WE CAN INFLUENCE AND CREATE THE FUTURE WE WANT.
Widespread setbacks due to economic and political conflicts, widespread individualism, and protectionist measures that dominate international commerce, lead to a fashion industry that is fundamentally focused on generating profit. Collaboration between different sectors is fragile. The Brazilian economy is in crisis and investment in education and technology is low. There are few social control mechanisms for poor working conditions. The situation is made worse by growing unemployment rates caused by the substitution of manual labor by automated production systems and intense migration flows in the continent.
The intervening State’s power looms over everything, as it seeks to regulate the actions of all other sectors. The State also holds the monopoly over Big Data and there is an increase in inspections of the fashion production chain, with a special focus on both work-related issues and environmental concerns. Low participation in public policy development stifles innovation and investments in technology, which are made by the private sector. Dialogue is weakened and inequality persists. Shopping malls are the preferred locations to experience consumerism but most purchases are done online.
Collaboration between state, business and organized civil society takes on a strategic role in the country, as it brings together different parts of the supply chain. Social and environmental issues gain relevance in the measurement of fashion supply chain impacts in general and among the companies in the fashion industry. High volumes of investment go into science and technology. There are fewer job positions available in the industry due to technology advances, but work relations have improved considerably. Brazil enters the age of fashion customization, through a pulverized production system and the spread of mini-factories. Consumers demand products that are more sustainable.
Consecutive disruptive technology advances and changes in consumer awareness transform the fashion industry. New materials substitute traditional raw materials, production processes are modernized, and professional training is diverse and in-depth. There is a massive reduction in the job positions available, but there is also a stark decrease in poor working conditions and new social protection mechanisms are introduced, such as shorter working days, to ensure more employment. The fashion industry moves towards a circular economy model, as the environmental crisis plagues public consciousness, leading to popular pressure for sustainable production systems.
CONSIDERING THAT A SOCIAL LAB TAKES PLACE THROUGH PROTOTYPING CICLES THAT INVOLVE THE CREATION OF INITIATIVES, REAL LIFE TESTS AND ITERATION OF THE INITIATIVES WITH THE LEARNINGS OF THE TESTS, THE TEAM WAS ORGANIZED INTO SIX WORK GROUPS (WG), COCREATED AND TESTED SIX MULTI-SECTORAL INITIATIVES.