Up Close is Sourcing Journal’s regular check-in with industry executives to get their take on topics ranging from personal style to their company’s latest moves. In this Q&A, Danielle Statham, co-owner and director of supply chain traceability solution FibreTrace, discusses the future for transparent fashion and the industry’s struggle to pinpoint “preferred” materials.
Name: Danielle Statham
Title: co-owner and director
Which other industry has the best handle on the supply chain? What can apparel learn?
The trend for transparency of supply chains is real and here to stay. It will become the new normal as more and more consumers want to make informed purchase decisions.
The Nestle PepsiCo project should encourage the apparel industry whereby two competing manufacturers of fast-moving consumer goods are combining shared distribution to ensure full truck loads for deliveries and effectively managing their supply chain, which reportedly results in a reduction of costs by 44 percent and carbon emissions by 55 percent.
I believe collaboration and sharing ideas for the purpose of good will drive change in the supply chain of the apparel industry.
The aircraft industry is using “smart dust” to track and control airworthiness certificates and aircraft parts on the blockchain. The key to success is connecting the physical and digital in the supply chain; multiple companies within the industry are using innovative tools to sustain back-to-birth tracking for critical authentication and verification.
How would you describe yourself as a consumer?
As a consumer, I chose quality over quantity. I like to collect pieces that will last or could be passed on to the next generation. I love wearing my mother’s or grandmothers’ special pre-loved pieces.
As a consumer, what does it take to win your loyalty?
Quality as a whole and consistency of finer details is key, from the raw fiber used creating a great feel of the fabric and the construction and fit of a garment.
And, of course, the truth and verification in marketing campaigns and messaging obviously strikes a chord more often.
What’s your typical uniform?
Comfort is my go to; it’s hard to go past a good fitting pair of jeans and a great fitting T-shirt or shirt, most often white. I have four children, so fast-moving shoes are critical.
Which fashion era is your favorite?
A friend gave me the “Poolside with Slim Aarons” coffee table book as a Christmas gift, and the late ’50s and early ’60s had such great flair and detail. I am a milliner by trade, so the headwear, scarves and the way everyone added great embellishment from head to toe in this era, both men and women, has always fascinated me.
Who’s your style icon?
I don’t have one! I have great admiration for anyone who cares consciously for their appearance and doesn’t follow crazy fashion trends and dresses appropriately for the occasion.
The new future icons paving the way are interesting brand collaborations. The marketing seen so far of The North Face x Gucci is incredible, and anything Kith come up with is genius in my opinion.
What’s the best decision your company has made in the last year?
To up the ante, we have worked triple time to prepare for the changing times ahead where the necessity for transparency has been put into fast forward mode due to the pandemic. We are ready to go!
How would you describe your corporate culture?
FibreTrace is owned by farmers producing the raw fiber and industry experts who are focused on textiles and sustainability.
Our company is niche; we are all involved in different parts of the textile supply chain, which makes for amazing collaboration and understanding to address and truly assist to solve the issues the industry is facing. We are a great team, and I am incredibly grateful of being able to bring such great minds together.
What can companies learn from Covid-19?
What should be the apparel industry’s top priority now?
Transparency is not a nice to have anymore; it is a necessity to stay relevant. It also comes at a cost, which should be shared from the raw producer throughout the tiers of the supply chain.
It is proven that the customer is prepared to share in this minimal cost. Eventually, this will shift and become part of the cost of goods.
Also, I should mention the importance of scientific data, verified data and truthful data capture for storytelling. This must be combined with the physical and the digital world if brands truly believe in the purpose for good and negate the greenwashing effect. FibreTrace connects both the physical tracer and digital platform to one system. There is no reason why supply chain transparency should be a stumbling block if the will is there.
What keeps you up at night?
How our industry has so far struggled to cohesively measure and explain what a “preferred” material or fiber choice actually is.
Also, I struggle with the misconceptions and amount of misleading information which is readily available to the reader.
What makes you most optimistic?
The ability to eventually empower all responsible brands to reduce their impact through radical transparency, giving consumers the choice to make informed purchase decisions.
Tell us about your company’s latest product introduction/service:
We have taken the knowledge of our soil carbon scientist and his PhD and transferred this into an integrated benchmarking platform which captures primary data from raw fiber producers. This will allow brands to nominate yarn, fiber or fabric with the lowest impact, enabling brands and suppliers to develop meaningful and measurable partnerships towards continuous improvement.