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APLF Feels Green! Establishing APLF as the Sustainable Sourcing Platform in Asia Pacific

Coinciding with the beginning of the cashmere harvest season in China, this year Cashmere World was held concurrently with APLF 2019 in Hong Kong from 13th to 15th of March. Similarly to other events held during APLF, sustainability was an essential component of the Cashmere World  exhibition. “Cashmere as a luxury fibre deserves to be promoted in a sustainable and professional way,” insists Perrine Ardouin, Director of APLF. The consolidation of the supply chain and the demand for more creative designs are the other two major trends that marked the event.

Sustainability first
Recently, the governments of China and Mongolia, two of the industry’s main cashmere producing countries, issued and enforced very strict environmental protection rules, intensifying scrutiny on cashmere production operations, and subsequently decreasing the number of breeding goats and cashmere output. This situation resulted in a spike in prices that was reflected at Cashmere World. Another factor affecting cashmere prices was the increasing demand for lamb in China; with higher prices for lamb meat, goats reared for fibres were supplanted by sheep, reducing cashmere production, according to the Schneider Group’s recently released annual cashmere market.

Sustainability is on everybody’s mind and is of particular significance to millennials, who are concerned about the transparency of the products they purchase. This has led manufacturers to increasingly buy cashmere directly from nomad families without involving middle men, allowing them to trace the cashmere in terms of location as well as quality. The result of this is a consolidation of the supply chain. 

Quality, verifiability, land misuse and circularity are all pressure points that the industry should take into serious consideration.  “There is growing pressure to meet new standards here and it may be wise for the cashmere industry to create an internationally acceptable industry body which sets standards and fights its corner,” suggests Ralph Goodstone, one of the founders of the Ethical Fashion Forum.

Design, design, design…
Another clear trend is the need for more creative and diverse designs along with increased fabric blends and mixes that sell in summer and thus extend the sales season.  “In the past, brands used to provide their own design to their suppliers,” recalls Mohsin Sheikh of Le Cashmere, a leading manufacturer of high quality cashmere knitwear and accessories. “Today, brands expect their suppliers to suggest new creative designs and to provide them in smaller quantities.” This presents a challenge to manufacturers who henceforth need to become more fashion oriented and flexible in terms of quantity. 


The need for a Sustainable Sourcing Platform in Asia

A growing number of designers and brands’ development teams are desperately looking for sustainable products and materials producers.


To complement the aim of increasing sustainability and facilitating the location of suitable products for design and manufacturing purposes, a sustainable sourcing platform is required in Asia Pacific where most products are manufactured.


As the leading international raw materials fair in the Asia Pacific region, APLF is ideally and strategically located in Hong Kong to play a key role in enhancing the ability of China and the Asia Pacific region to become the first sustainable supplier to the world.


China (and to a lesser extent India) has been the fashion factory of the world. After dominating the production of fast fashion, it is now time for China to prove its ability to move fast in the disruptive and sustainable fashion industry. A number of suppliers from Taiwan and China are already there.


Why sustainability in China and Asia Pacific?


There is pressure to produce green fashion in Asia for the following reasons:


• International brands who wish to continue producing at the lowest cost possible.


• The growing middle class market in China and South East Asia with younger, aware consumers using social media.


• A large part of the production and the waste is in China. It makes sense to upcycle and recycle materials directly in China and Asia in general.


As the move towards sustainability grows and polluting fashion loses its place in the manufacturing and supply chain, then we are truly speaking about a Fashion Revolution.


Luxury brands such as Kering are leading the way toward gradually shifting to a total sustainable production. International bodies of certification of compliance like REACH, Eco Vadis, SAC etc.., Corporate Social Responsibility, testing companies, various trade and consumer organisations (Who Made my Clothes ?) and even banks participate in this move toward a circular economy.


The future is in Asia


And APLF is very well positioned geographically to take the lead of this fashion revolution by creating the best sustainable sourcing platform in particular for leather, footwear and accessories sectors. To bring sustainable sourcing to the forefront of this market leading trade fair the following areas will be developed as part of the Sustainable Sourcing Platform for Asia Pacific:


1. Sustainable Sourcing Platform presented in the Core of APLF Materials+


Sustainable materials and products from the 4 APLF fairs will be on display in the APLF Materials+ hall on level 3 to enhance the synergy between all 4 events.


2. Sustainable Fashion Conference organised on the morning of the 14th of March


Topics on sustainability will encompass materials, cashmere, leather goods and sustainable fashion in general.


It will complement the Sustainability in the Leather Supply Chain Conference held in the afternoon of the same day.


3. APLF Materials+ Community


A programme of identification and recognition of sustainable exhibitors will be launched in 2019 to enhance the APLF Moving Toward Sustainability programme and help promote those exhibitors to buyers.



4. Feel Green  @ APLF Community


A digital activation campaign (both on line and social media) will be implemented to promote sustainable exhibitors at all APLF fairs and develop a green community for the industries served by APLF.


The next APLF will be held at Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre on 13-15 March 2019.