Systems are complicated. But for survival, it’s crucial we understand them. In our last letter, I touched on systems thinking and why it’s so important for fashion.
Since then we’ve been on a company away-day together in Bath (fun times!), discussed our role in the fashion (eco) system, and done a ton of reading to deep dive into systems thinking (This book by Donella Meadows has been most influential)
I’m not saying I get it all, systems thinking is pretty complicated and hard to get your head around. But, this is where I’m at currently…
It’s all connected.
Systems thinking is an approach — or philosophy — to problem-solving that views ‘problems’ as part of a wider, dynamic system. A more holistic view, seeking to understand a system by examining the linkages and interactions between the elements that comprise the whole of the system.
Fashion is a system. A complex one.
Spanning the world and directly involving hundreds of millions in its complex supply chains (and almost the whole world as its consumer base), it’s so much more than the sum of its parts.
You can’t look at one part and affect change without considering it as part of a whole, convoluted, system.
And if we want to understand our impact, become agile and adaptive and learn how to solve some of the most pressing problems facing us, everyone in fashion needs to adopt a systems thinking mindset. Here’s an article from us on it – What the fashion industry can learn from systems thinking.
Driving sustainability through a new lens
Data, information, systems, collaboration—get this right and they’ll help you reach your sustainability goals faster. But true cross-organisational collaboration (our core focus as a business) needs a new mindset and approach. We wrote about how Structured data and shared information & systems play a key role in the sustainable transformation of fashion.
We need to make change easier, incremental – more achievable, built into the everyday. Otherwise, it’s easier to not do it!
As a company we’re constantly asking ourselves, how do we break up ‘change’ into more digestible pieces? How do we make it easy for businesses to make a bunch of seemingly small changes that can result in bigger shifts over time?
Our (ongoing) journey to find the right language
If we’re honest, we’ve had a hot and cold relationship with the term ‘sustainable’ since starting the company. Even though we think about it all the time, we’ve found it hard to define, too large, too overused, and so unattainable and expansive to make sense of. So much needs to change, it can be paralysing at times, and this is no good for anyone.
As we’ve evolved our understanding, we’ve landed (for now!) on using this phrase of Collaborative Production. This encompasses a mindset that is about partnerships and working together with manufacturers in a way that benefits them as well. In our opinion, it just makes business sense when brands work together with their manufacturers, powered by shared systems. So how does collaborative production fit in with sustainability? Read our last article in the series here.
If you think any of these values or thinking has just struck a bell inside you, you know where to reach out! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org—let’s start the conversation and we can jump on a call.
Thanks for reading.