Google helps fashion brands monitor supply chain for sustainability


Google helps fashion brands monitor supply chain for sustainability

Google has teamed up with luxury fashion brand Stella McCartney and fashion innovation consultancy Current Global to develop a new supply chain tool.

The tool has been designed to help companies add visibility to their supply chain at the raw material stage.

It uses data analytics and machine learning on Google Cloud to give brands a more comprehensive view into their supply chain, particularly concerning cotton and viscose production.
The project was announced at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit this week, and is set to launch early next year.

The machine learning technology will be used to help brands estimate the environmental impact of particular items of clothing at the sourcing and design stages, and use this data to help companies take action.

The pilot has been launched in response to the growing environmental impact of the fashion industry.

According to Google, the fashion industry accounts for 20% of wastewater and 10% of carbon emissions globally.

Rachel Arthur, Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer, Current Global: “Lack of data in the fashion industry is one of the most pressing and complex issues we’re faced with. If you can’t see it, you can’t measure it, and if you can’t measure it, you can’t change it. In other words, without insights the industry is not empowered to make strategic and beneficial decisions for the sake of reducing their environmental impact. We teamed up with Google to identify the strategic places within the supply chain that would benefit from its access to global data and its machine learning power to launch an experiment to create a decision making tool for the industry in order to enable a more sustainable fashion future. We know that if we could understand the nuance of the raw materials we source - information right now that is essentially impossible to accurately calculate - we could make an enormous dent into the overall composition of the clothes that are produced.”

Maria McClay, Industry Head Fashion Luxury, Google: “We have been hearing increasingly from clients, our industry partners and consumers the growing urgency around the fashion sector to make a dent in their negative environmental impact given the magnitude of the problem. If nothing changes, what is at stake is our future and that of our children’s. Google empowers its teams to find moonshots - really difficult, complex problems to solve where our technology can help make a 10x contribution, not just a marginal improvement. We believe that this could be our moonshot for the industry.”

Ian Pattison, Customer Engineering Manager for Google Cloud UK: “Google’s mission is to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. The challenge facing the fashion industry is one of information - taking fragmented and somewhat incomplete information and quickly translating it into meaningful insights to take action. In this case, understanding how fabrics are grown or made, what impact different sourcing decisions has on the environment, and ensuring that data is visible across the whole supply chain. Google’s 20-year leadership of data technologies, cloud computing and machine learning capabilities, coupled with our commitment to sustainability and our unrivalled global mapping, means that we are uniquely placed to work with the brands to address the challenge of reducing the environmental footprint of fashion.”

Kate Brandt, Sustainability Officer, Google: “Stella McCartney has been a forerunner in the fashion industry embracing and leading the charge for sustainable fashion. At Google, we also strive to build sustainability into everything that we do whether that’s operating efficiency data centers to having our own Responsible Supply Chain Program. In 2016 we celebrated 10 years of carbon neutrality and we are the largest corporate renewable energy purchaser in the world. Outside of Google, we aspire to build tools to help people understand the planet, improve environmental impact, and take sustainable action. This pilot with Stella is a great step in the fashion industry's bid to become more sustainable.”

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