Sustainability in sourcing

An interesting panel took place last 22nd-23rd July during the Digital Material Show 2020, “Sustainability in Sourcing”, with the participation of:

  • Jim Chi– Founding Member of Oregon Sports Angels
  • Natalie Grillon– Strategy, Operations and Sustainability II Executive Director at Open Apparel Registry
  • Guru Larson– Sustainability Deal at Columbia Sportswear
  • Andrew Downes– Sales Director at Ortholite
  • Alan Lugo– Senior Product Line Manager at Wolverine Worldwide
  • Britta Cabanos, co-founder at Creative Capital Design


Jim Chi started his introduction highlighting how digital technology, 3d design, web platform, apps and digital showrooms allowed fashion supply chain players to be connected and at the same time, how this is changing the way to look at materials and prototyping, and its impact in terms of reduction of time, resources and costs.

After this introduction, panelists were asked to discuss how their respective companies are approaching sustainability and the goals they are working on.

Both Natalie Grillon and Guru Larson focused on the importance of having a connected supply chain sharing information in transparency in order to have access to clean, clear and accurate data and collect them in a structured way to take strategic decisions in the direction of sustainability.

Alan Lugo agreed that data collection is one of the main points but highlighted also the importance for one brand to understand where its impacts, in terms of sustainability, are first (if for example one brand has 90% of leather shoes, probably it should focus before on how its supply chain can save and/or recycle water rather than how to reduce the use of plastic) .


For concluding, Andrew Downes remembered that sustainability in sourcing is a starting point but it’s important to aim an end to end supply chain sustainability.

After that, Jim Chi introduced the second topic and panelists illustrated, for the represented organizations, which are the key features of the sourcing efforts to incorporate sustainability.

For Alan Lugo, the main efforts are at the beginning when one brand needs to define clearly where is the right direction to go, have clean goals and a measurable plan; after that it’s important to have all supply chain aligned to share the same goals.

For Guru Larson having access to clear data and collect them for analysis and measurements is at the same time the main goal and the main effort to approach sustainability, especially in building up collaborations for making measurement methodology and industry frameworks.


The last topic was about “the thing you would like to see happen in the industry going forward in terms of collaboration”

For Natalie Grillon it’s smart collaboration between brand and stakeholders in order to share better data and work together for improvements.

Guru Larson added also the ability to be able to perform more predictability in material buying and get easier to forecast needs and demands.


The panel finished with Q&A time where also the recycling topic was discussed.


An interesting panel, held by prepared people. Congratulations to both the organizer and the panelists.

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