In the interest of collaboration across the supply chain, many fashion brands are working in tandem with their manufacturers to create a smoother and more sustainable product production pipeline. Adore Me, which started its own manufacturer evaluation called the Green Adore Me Manufacturer Evaluation (GAME) in 2019, realized that Sri Lankan manufacturer MAS Holdings was already working on many of the initiatives that it wanted from suppliers.
MAS had implemented sophisticated sustainability solutions and dedicated sustainability divisions across its business that Adore Me could adopt with other suppliers, too. As the biggest manufacturer in South Asia for apparel, MAS also launched its Plan for Change in January. MAS’s plan outlines three focus areas for the manufacturer to improve its operations: Product, Lives and Planet, with 12 goals to be achieved by 2025. The company works with apparel brands like Nike, Victoria’s Secret, Lululemon, PVH, Gap, Patagonia, Adore Me and Everlane. It has 15 facilities around the world employing 100,000 employees globally.
“Most of those conversations [we were having with other manufacturers] were more about trying to understand where we are today and how we can improve,” Ranjan Roy, vp of strategy at Adore Me, said. “With MAS, it was already well thought out from their side and there was a whole plan and division with a number of innovations already [started]. They’re already well ahead in terms of the material [innovation], so it makes the actual design a lot easier.”
“Around 2011, the leadership came together and started focusing on the impact that we were having on the environment,” said Sid Amalean, head of sustainable business at MAS. “One of our leaders shared images of landfills and deforested land at an all-company presentation. Since then, we understood that we needed to do something about it; that’s when we set the goal to restore 100 times our biodiversity footprint.”
Each of the MAS divisions, like apparel manufacturing and innovation, has its own sustainability team, as well as a central sustainability team of 16 people that focuses on total brand impact. The company is working on innovations in recycled nylon and is tackling carbon emissions in their supply chain as well as reforestation action in Sri Lanka, both on land and in the sea. Typically these projects are brand solutions, but they could also come from manufacturers.
Part of this is through the MAS Plan For Change. MAS has also recently signed up for the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) with commitments to reduce absolute scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions 25.2% by 2025 from a 2019 base year and further commits that 85% of its suppliers by spend and 100% of joint ventures in scope 3 investments, will have science-based targets by 2025.
These standards have helped AdoreMe with its goals. “MAS is a new kind of partner for Adore Me, with a partnership structure instead of the traditional supplier brand relationship,” said Roy.
For instance, as more companies look at nearshoring, Adore Me began testing a new concept with its manufacturer. MAS provided the brand with blank products this year, which Adore Me was then able to print in their production base in New York. “We were able to print essentially on demand in a much better way as well,” said Roy. “It was this interesting sign of where things could go in terms of more personalized, just-in-time manufacturing that’s taking place at our own facility.”