Can Farms Save Fashion? Applying an innovative strategic model integrating insights across industry sectors and geographic regions to identify effective solutions to the sustainability challenges confronting the fashion industry., Diana Purcell

The designers, brands sourcing professionals and strategists within the fashion industry are currently searching for a means to make more sustainable decisions in a world that is more global each day. Many efforts to accomplish this task are either driven my marketing or based on data that is not easy to communicate. This study will dig deeper into the stories of professionals along the supply chain to find out what actions can be performed to spur lasting change and transformation based on insights from the doers, innovators and entrepreneurs that are making impactful change.

As a case study in how existing supply chains can pivot to more sustainable practices this this study will incorporate findings from professionals across sectors including but not limited to: agriculture, sourcing, processing, design, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and legislation. In order to keep the sample size manageable and retrieve meaningful data, this study will focus on an emerging industry that is currently being built in the United States: Hemp textiles. This industry has a unique opportunity to build sustainable and modern infrastructure on top of existing solution models. The hope is that these findings can be used to improve other, less sustainable systems.

Preliminary findings indicate that this work is already in progress, however strategic shifts from the top down could help to support the development of many innovative but fledgling enterprises across the country. Legislation has emerged as a double edged sword. It seems to be hindering large scale growth in its vague language and tendency to change unexpectedly while also providing a risky environment that is effectively protecting small businesses from the inevitable arrival of “Big Agriculture” and all of the problematic practices that come with it.

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