Sunday, July 3, 2016

Agile Fashion: How Software Engineering Principles Are Being Used to Combat Waste

Inditex, a Spanish multinational clothing company, is "one of the world's largest fashion retailers with eight brands and more than 7,000 stores throughout the world."[1] As you can probably imagine, a company of this size can have a considerable environmental impact - for example, as the linked article states, "[i]f every Inditex store accidentally left on a light overnight, it would add up to almost nine years of wasted electricity."

Inditex has chosen to deal with this great responsibility in an unusual way: it has embraced principles commonly associated with a software engineering practice known as "agile development."[2] For Inditex, this manifests itself in a business model which emphasizes customer feedback over marketing already-produced merchandise:
While conventional high street retailers pre-commit about 60 percent of their production, Inditex plans only about 15 percent in advance — the rest is made in response to customer feedback.
The reasoning behind this business model is clear; if you are producing what customers want, you should be able to decrease your wasted merchandise. However, its effectiveness is less straightforward: since 2009, as the article states, Inditex as seen increases in its industrial waste and water consumption but has been able to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Another point of discussion is whether or not such a business model is practical for smaller retailers with significantly less resources in terms of both polling customer feedback and production.

You can read the entire article here at The Business of Fashion. Inditex also has a page dedicated to its sustainability efforts which you can find here.

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