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Sustainable Supply Chains: Preservation by Pre-Order

By Danielle Gross
      What’s all the fuss about the buzzword “pre-order”? WFH The Label operates on a pre-order only basis in an effort to reduce the unnecessary waste that fashion brands inevitably produce throughout the supply chain lifecycle. Even though the majority of you reading this already know what pre-ordering is (for those of you who don’t…where have you been??), I should probably define it just so we have all our bases covered. Pre-order means to order an item before it’s actually produced, with the understanding that it will be shipped later.
     Adopting this supply chain model allows companies like WFH The Label to stop making excess inventory by assessing consumer demand before initiating production. Dell, the computer technology company, was one of the first adopters of the pre-order model that has become favored by many eCommerce retailers today. The pre-order model has also been widely adopted by many businesses during this time to circumvent supply-chain delays caused by the unknown nature of coronavirus. Dell’s supply chain strategy was focused on offering built-to-order home computers solely on pre-orders, similar to how WFH The Label conducts business, allowing customers to DM the brand directly and request customized designs to purchase on pre-order.
     The truth is that fashion is close to beating big oil as the most polluting industry in the world. Did you know that a shocking 87% of clothing waste ends up getting incinerated or going into landfills? A large part of that waste is attributed to clothes that are produced, but never get sold. This is the reason why retailers such as Forever21 have filed for bankruptcy; they couldn’t afford to pay for the warehouses where they stored enormous amounts of overstock inventory that was never sold. Pre-ordering significantly reduces the superfluous waste associated with over-producing merchandise because it eliminates the problem that brands often encounter with inaccurately forecasting demand.
     The other considerable share of fashion waste occurs in the hands of consumers because, the manner in which people dispose of clothes after they’re “done” with them, actually causes much more environmental harm than the production/manufacturing stage does. This is the reason I, along with so many others, have committed to only shop secondhand from thrift and consignment stores. Buying from resellers encourages a circular economy wherein natural resources can be used continually to eliminate waste. In contrast, the ubiquitous linear economic model sadly embraces a “take, make, waste” system in which we extract resources, produce goods, and then quickly consume and dispose of them.
     I’m going to be honest with you. The only way the fashion industry can address the climate crisis is by slowing down its growth, which would dramatically change the way the industry operates. Unfortunately, reusing, recycling, and secondhand buying will only get us so far. The only solution is to simply produce less because functionally, enough clothes already exist to last humanity for multiple lifetimes. Proponents of a circular economy believe that economic growth can still be achieved without depleting what’s left of the world’s resource endowment.
     With that being said, fashion is used as a forum for creatives, like co-founders Ari and Leore, who want to share their ideas and talents with the world. WFH The Label wants to create a supply chain with smarter production, so they have committed to utilizing the more sustainable pre-order model in order to reduce their waste and negative impact on the environment. I really appreciate WFH because they acknowledge their environmental footprint, unlike so many other brands. Ari and Leore have gone out of their way by allowing me to give them some of my old t-shirts and sweats to upcycle with original WFH designs. I’m so grateful that they made this exception for me because they know I only buy pre-owned clothes, and it shows me that they genuinely care about being as sustainable as they can. This was a special way for me to support the brand without compromising my values, and it gives me the chance to get my hands on WFH The Label’s amazing designs!
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