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Made-By’s Voluntary Liquidation is ‘Real Blow’ to Sustainable Fashion

Made-By, the European not-for-profit that made sustainable apparel its métier, has gone into voluntary liquidation, striking a “real blow to fashion,” according to Allanna McAspurn, its former CEO.

Writing in a post on LinkedIn on Friday, McAspurn bemoaned the trailblazing organization’s demise, noting her “frustration that this had happened, and sorrow for the committed and passionate staff. Especially those who formed part of the original team.”

McAspurn served as Made-By’s U.K. general manager from 2008 to 2011, and its CEO from 2012 to 2016. Before she left, the organization had just unveiled Mode Tracker, a roadmap-progress tool that tracked an apparel brand’s social and environmental progress across a spectrum of issues, including product sustainability, manufacturing impact, human rights and waste management. It was the “first, best and only benchmarking tool for measuring and managing a fashion business’s progress,” she said.

During her eight years with Made-By, McAspurn and her team “carved out a new and much-needed space in the fashion industry, providing strategic and tactical advice on the huge challenge that is sustainability,” she said. “We advised and supported a large variety of brands, big and small, and our work, like the industry’s, was truly global.”

Founded in 2004, Made-By has worked with more than 150 brands and retailers to make “sustainable fashion common practice,” including Acne, Eileen Fisher, G-Star Raw, H&M, Hugo Boss, Kering, LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Ted Baker, Tommy Hilfiger and Vivobarefoot. The company had offices in Amsterdam, London and Düsseldorf, Germany.

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Ecotextile News suggests it was the withdrawal of funding by Dutch Nationale Postcode Loterij, one of Made-By’s key sponsors, that threw the organization’s financial prospects into doubt.

Still, Made-By’s end, McAspurn said, has “far more significance than the personal feelings of its former CEO.” As evidenced by the British Parliament’s inquiry into the ills of “fast fashion,” awareness of clothing production’s deleterious effects is now a mainstream concern. The industry can no longer squeak by on “window dressing and box ticking,” she said.

“Fashion must think strategically about sustainability and then have the determination to deliver painful and difficult change to the way it does business,” McAspurn said. “This means addressing how it manages supply chains, sources materials and manages precious resources.”

This was the role Made-By played, she added. “[It was] the critical friend who understood the challenges for businesses of working in a hugely competitive and fast-moving industry,” she said. “But also knowing what ‘good’ looked like and able to provide the strategic and practical help needed to deliver it.”