PATHWAYS TO

SUSTAINABLE FASHION IN BRAZIL

The Sustainable Fashion Collaboration Recommendations for Sustainable Fashion in Brazil

The fashion supply chain is extensive, dispersed, and distributed throughout the Brazilian territory with many regional particularities. Transforming this industry requires shared solutions and engagement of multiple actors – which is already at the heart of our work as Colabora Sustainable Fashion.

We decided to work on the development of Recommendations for months to accelerate the resolution of diverse and complex social, economic, and environmental challenges. When adopted, these Recommendations can promote the progress of these solutions and transform the industry’s main challenges, making the Brazilian fashion industry more ethical and sustainable.

What is a Recommendation

A good Recommendation transforms something when adopted. For this reason, the Recommendations proposed below do not have the premise of being revolutionary and should not be utopian but are based on real, viable levers that are sometimes in line with emerging movements in the ecosystem in question.

In addition to being feasible and having change capacity, the set of Recommendations is an important component because joint progress has results that support each other, reinforcing and enhancing new paths.

Furthermore, rRecommendations need to be targeted to actors who have a relevant role or even formal responsibilities in an issue, who can influence other actors, who are available and able to dialogue and influence, and who have the ability to give visibility to the agenda and create new facts and information that take debates to a new level. As complex as the issue is, the recommended actor has the potential to be successful

Pathway to building Recommendations

To make this possible, the Recommendations for Sustainable Fashion in Brazil were designed in an advisory and collaborative process during 2021 – assessing national and international materials, in-depth interviews, and public consultations. This process was guided by Colabora Sustainable Fashion and executed by Prowa Consulting.

The potential recommendations were  based on knowledge already built up by international works from international institutions (OECD, UN, ILO, European Union), the British Government, Civil Society Organizations (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, BSR), case studies of other ecosystems in international fashion (Spain, Asia), among others.

In the Brazilian context, the analysis was mainly based on the extensive and consistent work that we carried out at Colabora Sustainable Fashion. We have guided our strategy and multi-player initiatives to achieve positive transformation in the fashion chain based on a systemic understanding of challenges, risks, and opportunities, and an emergent and collaborative learning of solutions that result in benefits to all.

The process of building Recommendations 

2017

Beginning of the Sustainable Fashion Collaboration and identification of the 6 transformative axes: Education, Science, and Technology; Employment and Equity; Environment; Culture and Consumption; Business Model; and Public Policies

September / October 2020

collective creation of strategies for sustainable economic recovery, one of the foundations for building the recommendations

May 2021

mapping of 65 ideas, experiences, and possibilities that could become recommendations since they address the transformative axes and their challenges, based on documents from Sustainable Fashion Collaboration and other national and international movements

July 2021

interviews with relevant experts and actors – collaborators from companies and associations in the fashion industry, government and regulatory agencies, civil society organizations that support the agenda, and relevant public agents

August 2021

establishment of 25 proposals for Recommendations grouped into 5 major needs: 1. Development of the chain and business environment; 2. Increase in the supply of capital; 3. Strengthening the Fashion Ecosystem, its Institutions, and Actors; 4. Favorable legal and regulatory environment; 5. Generation and Dissemination of Knowledge.

August / September 2021

consulting and collection of contributions from members of Sustainable Fashion and establishment of 20 Recommendations for sustainable fashion in Brazil

October 2021

public consultation at the national level on the Colabora Sustainable Fashion Recommendations – Pathways to Sustainable Fashion in Brazil

IT’S YOUR TURN TO PARTICIPATE: LET’S PUT THE RECOMMENDATIONS INTO PRACTICE? 

READ carefully the Colabora Sustainable Fashion recommendations. If you prefer, download the complete file.

SHARE this page or the recommendations file with your networks. The more people have access to the document, the better!

ESTABLISH A PLAN to implement the recommendations in your work environment. Remember that if they are not employed, they will not be effective.

PRIORITIZE the strategies that better connect with your area of ​​expertise and advocate for change.

COLLABORATE with those who are working to enhance results and contact us if you want to build solutions and referrals together.

You find the detailed recommendations in each block below.

If you have questions about any information or terms, you can access our Glossary here.

Block 1. Development of the chain and business environment

Developing better business models for a more robust chain, with lower risk, greater development of the fashion, textile, accessories, and footwear industry can promote a healthy competitive environment, ensure rights, offer better working conditions for all workers, direct or indirect, and connect to consumer expectations for more sustainability around the world. 

These recommendations aim to strengthen the chain and provide greater qualification and professionalization as well as encourage practices that reduce informality and bring social and environmental security to all.

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1.1 That all companies in the fashion industry (retailers, brands, industries, and agribusiness), including online sales platforms for garments, footwear, and accessories, through their competent areas, have supply and compliance policies with requirements regarding the origin of product materials and working conditions, including outsourcing and subcontractors throughout the fashion manufacturing cycle.

Stakeholders: companies in the fashion industry (retailers, brands, industries, and agribusiness), sector associations, business associations, institutes, and business foundations.

 1.2 That major companies in the sector (retailers, brands, industries, and agribusiness) establish purchasing policies aiming at a strategic relationship with the supply chain for medium, small and micro-sized suppliers, increasing predictability, committing to the purchase, guaranteeing payment terms that do not compromise the financial health of suppliers, contributing to increasing the perpetuation of actors in the chain and reducing inequalities and weaknesses in the chain segments.

Stakeholders: companies in the fashion industry chain (retailers, brands, industries, and agribusiness), sector associations, business associations, and business institutes and foundations.

 

1.3 That professionals from retail companies, responsible for defining and choosing collections, adopt Brazilian identities in their collections and emphasize the diversity of bodies in their products, and that they economically value and respect authorship as well as the self-determination of the production groups involved.

Stakeholders: companies in the fashion industry chain (retailers, brands, industries, and agribusiness), sector associations, business associations, and business institutes and foundations.

 

1.4 That textiles, footwear, and accessories companies (retailers, brands, industries, and agribusiness) actively promote the reduction and compensation of their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the efficient use of natural resources, good waste management practices, decreased use of hazardous chemicals, the use of regenerative and circular practices, and adoption of measurement and certification mechanisms, assuming measurable commitments and deadlines defined in the next five years.

Stakeholders: companies in the fashion industry chain (retailers, brands, industries, and agribusiness), sector associations, business associations, and business institutes and foundations.

 

1.5 That all companies and organizations in the fashion value chain have, in their policies and strategies, clear goals and actions to promote respect for human rights with more equity, considering gender, race, LGBTQIA+, people with disabilities, and origin.

Stakeholders: companies in the fashion industry chain (retailers, brands, industries, and agribusiness), sector associations, business associations, and business institutes and foundations | Civil society organizations.

 

1.6 That sector associations, large companies (retailers, brands, industries, and agribusiness), and social organizations promote mechanisms to capture and disseminate information about the origin of materials and products and the working conditions in which they were produced, including outsourced and subcontracted parties from the fashion production cycle, to ensure transparency, visibility, and traceability in the value chain.

Stakeholders: companies in the fashion industry chain (retailers, brands, industries, and agribusiness), sector associations, business associations, and business institutes and foundations | Civil society organizations.

Block 2. Increase in the supply of capital

It is possible to leverage and accelerate several technical, technological, and social solutions already mapped that are being tested in the chain. To achieve these goals, we must attract and expand resources to promote new business models and the development and adoption of technologies and fair and sustainable production arrangements in the Brazilian fashion industry chain, by directing and expanding financial resources from different sources – governments, philanthropic foundations, banks, industry chain companies, and investors.

Within this topic, the recommendations seek to attract capital, expand lines of financing, and increase the availability of philanthropic and non-philanthropic financial resources to promote more sustainable business models, technologies, and production arrangements.

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2.1 That civil society organizations with actions focused on the fashion industry chain, together with industry associations, lead initiatives that connect national and international social and environmental sponsors, increasing possibilities for other resources to finance a sustainable transition in the chain, and that leverage the visibility and resolution of critical social and environmental issues.

Stakeholders: companies in the fashion industry chain (retailers, brands, industries, and agribusiness), sector associations, business associations, and business institutes and foundations | Civil society organizations.

 

2.2 That large companies (retailers, brands, industries, and agribusiness) in the fashion industry chain annually destinate 1% of their gross profit to the acceleration of Research & Development agendas (for example, development of technological innovation centers and internal innovation projects, etc.), focusing on sustainable, regenerative, and circular solutions for the territory along the chain.

Stakeholders: companies in the fashion industry chain (retailers, brands, industries, and agribusiness), sector associations, business associations, and business institutes and foundations.

 

2.3 That private banks, digital banks, fintech companies, and credit unions create funds to support individual microentrepreneurs, micro, small, and medium-sized companies, and offer financial products (such as insurance, productive/machinery financing, microcredit, guarantee fund, credit for innovation and sustainability) suitable for the most vulnerable segments in the chain.

Stakeholders: financial institutions, funds, economic development agencies, business incubators, and accelerators.

Block 3. Strengthening the fashion ecosystem, its institutions, and actors

To transform production chains into healthy and sustainable ecosystems of shared value – reducing inequalities and injustices and practicing corporate social responsibility – different actors in action, size, and maturity are required, with knowledge and complementary skills and with the ability and predisposition to understand and build a positive mutual agenda. Systemic and collaborative solutions are more creative and result in more balanced and beneficial actions for people and companies, ensuring greater durability of these solutions and social stability.

The fashion ecosystem consists of actors, such as large-scale farmers, cattle breeders, and small producers of natural fibers; manufacturers of artificial and synthetic materials and fibers; spinning and weaving; processors; clothing manufacturers; distributors; retailers; workers, including immigrants, in all these segments of the textile, footwear, and accessories chain in formal or informal working conditions; consumers; machinery suppliers; equipment suppliers; software development; publishers of specialized magazines; fashion fairs and events; advertising agencies; worker protection agencies; regulatory agencies; civil society organizations; community leaders and productive groups; fashion designers; digital retail sales platforms; communicators and digital influencers; journalists; fashion editors; media; among others.

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3.1 That companies, institutes, and business and family foundations support the set up of new organizations and act to strengthen civil society organizations (NGOs, productive cooperatives, sewing collectives and groups, representative associations, etc.), which support social and environmental causes in the fashion industry, thus creating a more diverse and dynamic ecosystem in pursuit of collective solutions, allocating 10% of its annual budget to social responsibility and investment or alike.

Stakeholders: companies in the fashion industry chain (retailers, brands, industries, and agribusiness), sector associations, business associations, and business institutes and foundations.

 

3.2 That all education and training institutions, such as technical education institutes, vocational institutes, and organizations of the Brazilian S System – which offer various programs and training focused on entrepreneurial education and the formalization of the workforce in the fashion industry chain – review their methodology, language, and online platforms (user experience), thus creating suitable and accessible formats, such as simple online navigation and clear language for their target audience, both in large centers and in regional centers.

Stakeholders: educational, training, and qualification institutions of elementary, higher, specialized, technical, and/or vocational education.

 

3.3 That universities and technical schools incorporate sustainability, social responsibility, human rights, decent work, equity, and regenerative and circular economy in their undergraduate, graduate, and extension programs dedicated to the fashion industry and, transversally, in existing regular programs.

Stakeholders: educational, training, and qualification institutions of elementary, higher, specialized, technical, and/or vocational education.

Block 4. Favorable legal and regulatory environment 

To overcome challenges, it is also necessary to act on the legal and regulatory environment, both public and private, considering opportunities to build and review regulations and standards, which require minimum conditions, social and environmental responsibility, ethics, and transparency, and facilitate the sustainable development of the ecosystem. Having a favorable legal and regulatory environment is crucial to stimulate and encourage the development and adoption of sustainable social and environmental practices throughout the chain.

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4.1 That public agencies (at federal, state, and municipal levels) incorporate criterias of social and environmental performance and regenerative and circular economy in the evaluation of suppliers in the acquisition of textile products, garments, and accessories. That, at the municipal and local levels, calls be carried out for public purchases of textiles, garments, footwear, and accessories with exemption from the bidding procedure when purchasing products from individual microentrepreneurs, micro-enterprises, associated or cooperative productive groups, similarly to the Family Farming Program and the National School Nourishment Program.

Stakeholders: public authority institutions – ministries, secretariats, public non-governmental institutions, direct and indirect public administration.

 

4.2 That the Ministry of the Environment develop policies to promote a circular economy, such as expanding the rules of the National Solid Waste Policy (PNRS) for the fashion industry, and implement the financial mechanisms and tax benefits already provided for in the PNRS law (chapter 3, article 8, items IX and X) linked to solutions for separating and collecting waste for large generators, mapping the sector’s GHG emissions, financing lines that foster a decrease in the environmental footprint of the chain, the regeneration of soils and water sources, etc.

Stakeholders: public authority institutions – ministries, secretariats, public non-governmental institutions, direct and indirect public administration.

 

4.3 That the Ministry of Economy, through the Simples Nacional Management Committee, drives the National Statute of Microenterprises and Small Enterprises forward, creating national committees to discuss and develop labor related issues , innovation, and certification, just as it created Redesim, responsible for the creation of individual microentrepreneurs and the agility in opening companies.

Stakeholders: public authority institutions – ministries, secretariats, public non-governmental institutions, direct and indirect public administration.

Block 5. Generation and dissemination of knowledge

We cannot act on what we do not know. Understanding the opportunities and impacts of the fashion industry chain in Brazil is essential for all parties to understand their role and potential in generating solutions. 

The dissemination of knowledge and the execution of data-based regional and national strategies are essential for building an assessment capacity and a sense of urgency in social and environmental issues of the industry chain, seeking a structural change in the patterns of consumption and production through awareness, valorization, and social mobilization.

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5.1 That social organizations, research centers, companies, sectoral associations, universities, and public authorities create the Sustainable Fashion Observatory, at the national level, to become a reference (reducing the dispersion of information) in the monitoring of critical issues of sustainability, including:

– Alignment of concepts in sustainable fashion, for example, defining sustainable material, regeneration, circularity, biodegradable, etc.;

– Defining and monitoring indicators of sustainable regenerative and circular fashion;

– Social and environmental commitments, such as reducing the number of informal workers and slavery-like practices in the chain; reducing and eliminating the use of hazardous chemicals in the production of raw materials, clothing, footwear, and accessories; percentage of the total parts manufactured in Brazil certified by a specific seal(s); remuneration based on the number of pieces; contextualization and national dissemination of circular economy initiatives;

– Collectively built fashion chain investments;

– Objective mapping on the loss of economic value of work throughout the chain;

– Contribution of the chain to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);

– Condition of public purchases of garments, footwear, and accessories – “Best practices and challenges”;

– Composition and dissemination of benchmarking best practices and success cases in sustainable fashion;

– Current status and advances in the regulatory framework for sustainable fashion;

– Advancement of the ecosystem of actors.

Stakeholders: companies in the fashion industry chain (retailers, brands, industries, and agribusiness), sectoral associations, business associations, institutes, business foundations | Civil society organizations | Public authority institutions – ministries, secretariats, public non-governmental authorities, direct and indirect public administration | Educational, training and, qualification institutions of elementary, higher, specialized, technical, and/or vocational education.

 

5.2 That companies and industry associations allocate 20% of their annual communication and marketing budget to invest in training their stakeholders. For example, campaigns by communication agencies, journalists, mainstream media, and, digital influencers aimed at their customers (consumers, personal shoppers, partner influencers, and sellers) on sustainable, regenerative, and circular fashion issues – human rights, decent work, gender and racial equity, environment, circular economy, correct use of sustainable fashion terms, visibility of good practices and solutions –, focusing on what is intolerable (violation of rights), avoiding greenwashing and socialwashing, and generating more prosumers as well as a conscious social radar.

Stakeholders: companies in the fashion industry chain (retailers, brands, industries, and agribusiness), sector associations, business associations, and business institutes and foundations.