How On-Demand Production is Making the Fashion Industry More Sustainable

By Rebekah Carter|Posted on 19 May 2023
How On-Demand Production is Making the Fashion Industry More Sustainable

Fashion is more than just clothing. For consumers around the world, the right clothing is essential to self-expression and creative freedom. Studies show that in the US alone, consumers spend around $380 billion per year on fashion and footwear. But producing endless collections of amazing garments has a price, and it’s not just the expense of printing and materials people need to consider.

Every year, the fashion industry causes increasing damage to our environment, producing 10% of our global carbon emissions overall, and contributing to 92 million tons of material waste per year. To make matters worse, the “fast fashion” ecosystem often relies heavily on the use of synthetic materials and rudimentary materials which wear down quickly, creating even more waste.

Creating a world where the creativity of designers, influencers, and entrepreneurs can thrive, while the environment is preserved and protected, requires a re-think in the way we develop garments. Fortunately, there is a solution: on-demand production.

The Sustainability Benefits of on-Demand Production

On-demand production strategies, such as print-on-demand (POD) and fashion on-demand are revolutionizing the fashion landscape. With this strategy, companies produce garments only when an order is placed, minimizing a host of common fashion sustainability issues.

The on-demand production model harnesses the benefits of the digital age, allowing companies to match supply instantly to the demands of their target audience. Companies only make products that have already sold, eliminating the risk of unsold inventory stagnating in warehouses and landfills.

At the same time, because products are made to exact specifications set by customers, material and water waste in the fashion industry can be reduced significantly. Manufacturers only use the resources required to produce each item individually, rather than producing collections en masse.

On-demand production models deliver:

Better, High-Quality Products

Traditional fast fashion production strategies often involve the use of low-quality materials and rudimentary printing technologies. Companies need to produce high numbers of garments quickly, so they’re constantly hunting for ways to cut the costs of production. While this means new fashion products can be produced affordably and quickly, it also means items wear out quickly. Many cheaper high-street retailers don’t produce garments that are truly made to last.

With on-demand production, companies can take advantage of the highest quality materials, the most advanced technologies, and the best resources to deliver the perfect combination of comfort and aesthetic appeal. Shirts and sweaters can be made to last a lifetime, with materials that withstand regular washing and use. Plus, because companies don’t have to buy inventory in advance, they can respond quickly to the changing preferences of their audience, producing new designs and clothing based on the interests and expectations of their audience.

Fewer Wasted, Unsold Garments

Overproduction is considered a common component of the traditional fashion industry. Approximately one in five garments end up in the trash without ever being worn. Many fast fashion companies produce items in bulk to save money, but as market preferences in the fashion industry can change rapidly, this means countless garments often go unsold.

According to some reports, the cost of just purchasing the materials for unsold garments costs the fashion industry around $120 billion each year. Overproduction doesn’t just harm company profits, they cause countless resources, from fresh water to cotton to be wasted on a yearly basis.

What’s more, overproduction means huge volumes of materials end up in landfills every year, unable to be recycled or renewed into new products.

Supply Chain Reductions

It isn’t just producing garments that has a negative impact on the environment, getting items from manufacturers to companies, then out to customers has an influence on carbon emissions too. In a traditional fashion business, a company will need to order products from a manufacturer, which may mean shipping resources to a different brand. The manufacturer then needs to produce the product and ship it to various warehouses around the world before it can then be shipped to customers.

On-demand production eliminates the middle man in this process. Items are produced by a manufacturer as soon as a customer places an order, and then they’re shipped directly to the customer. There’s no inventory for businesses to hold and manage. Everything is managed by the on-demand supplier. This significantly reduces transportation waste and emissions.

Reduced Storage Space

As mentioned above, on-demand production eliminates the need for designers and retailers to manage their own inventory. This not only means companies can spend less time working in warehouses to pack and ship orders, but it also reduces the amount of real estate a company needs to invest in. Each warehouse owned by a fashion company has its own impact on the environment.

Warehouses need to consume essential resources, from electricity and gas, to water, in order to run effectively. With no need to manage inventory in-house, the wasted space in the fashion industry cycle is minimized significantly.

Emerging Opportunities for Customization

It’s also worth noting, as demand for sustainability in the fashion industry continues to grow, many on-demand manufacturers are offering more ways for businesses to reduce their carbon footprint.

Eco-friendly fashion on demand companies, such as NovaTomato, work with leading innovators to produce clothing using sustainable inks and unique eco friendly polyester fabrics. They can even leverage sustainable packaging options, such as biodegradable materials for boxes and bags.

Choosing the right on-demand production company gives businesses and creators in the on-demand fashion industry the chance to create custom pieces according to their eco-conscious standards. Organic materials and sustainable processes give any creator the opportunity to go “green”.

Demand for Sustainable Fashion on Demand Is Growing

Demand for Sustainable Fashion on Demand Is Growing

As consumers become increasingly aware of the negative impact the fashion industry has on our planet, demand for sustainable solutions like on-demand production is growing. Already, the on-demand industry has been revitalized by a rising interest in customization, with around 74% of Gen Z, and 67% of millennials saying they want more personalized products.

However, interest in sustainability is pushing space forward even faster. Consumers are becoming more eco-conscious, and they’re looking for businesses to share their values. Even leading apparel brands are beginning to take notice. Luxury brands like the Kering group are committed to exploring new opportunities for sustainable fashion, and the LVMH group is taking measures to invest in fashion on demand opportunities too.

H&M has even opened its own fashion on demand platform in recent years. Now around 25% of customers say they’re spending more money than ever before on sustainable fashion, the chances are the investment and interest in this area will only continue to grow.

Sustainability at NovaTomato

While all on-demand production offers a fantastic, more sustainable alternative to traditional fast fashion processes, some fashion on demand companies are acting as pioneers in their industry. At NovaTomato, we believe in leading the way to a new era of sustainable fashion.

As a fashion on demand company, we go above and beyond the standard print on demand companies in the market today, to ensure no inventory or materials are wasted, while giving designers access to higher levels of customization. Our digital printing technologies utilize the finest eco-friendly ink, for stunning designs without an impact on the environment. Plus, we offer a range of eco-friendly and sustainable clothing materials to choose from.

eco-friendly and sustainable clothing materials

We can even help to minimize packaging waste and costs, with plastic-free packaging options, to ensure waste doesn’t end up in landfills. Our eco-friendly strategy revolves around:

  • The latest sustainable clothing materials: State-of-the-art eco-friendly fabrics, designed to offer the perfect combination of style, durability, and comfort, with recycled and earth-conscious fabrics. Our eco-friendly materials are perfect for environmentally friendly brands.
  • Sustainable printing technologies: With non-toxic, environmentally safe inks and materials, we take sustainability to the next level. We can offer all-over prints, with absolutely no wasted ink, and design stock exactly according to your customer’s needs.
  • Product manufacturing: Using the highest quality of equipment available, we create phenomenal items, designed to stand the test of time. Our high-quality products are made with durability, comfort, and resiliency in mind.

At NovaTomato, we also work hand-in-hand with fantastic OEM and ODM factors, as well as premium manufactures working for global premium retail brands around the world. All of the partners we work with prioritize ethical working conditions, and adhere to sustainability certification standards set by the industry’s leading groups.

Discover the Sustainability of on Demand Fashion

Finding new ways to cultivate creativity and enforce sustainability in the fashion industry at the same time is crucial in today’s landscape. At NovaTomato, we’re doing our part to protect the planet and transform the clothing landscape, one client at a time.

Reach out to our team today to learn more about how we can work with you to unlock a new era of sustainability for your new or growing fashion brand.