Sustainable fashion

Aditya Birla Fashion and Retail’s manufacturing facility, Fashion Craft, hosts its first-ever guided tour for delegates of SAC, a global non-profit body for sustainable production in the city of Bengaluru

ABFRL is supported by 9 factories with a workforce of over 11,000 employees, most of whom hail from village communities. We are the largest employer of women, who comprise 90% of our factory workforce.

Our 9 Sustainability Missions are Energy Efficiency, Water Conservation, Waste Management, Sustainable Products, Sustainable Packaging, Safety, Carbon Foot printing, Green Buildings and CSR
It is a bright and sunny Friday morning in Anekal, a small town on the outskirts of Bengaluru. Fashion Craft, one of ABFRL’s large manufacturing factories, has been bustling with activity since 7.00 a.m. The frenzy seems to be reaching a crescendo, just as a large tourist bus pulls up quietly at the entry to its premises. As the heavy wrought iron gates swing open, a traditional welcome is being prepared for the very special guests alighting from the bus; complete with sweet-smelling flower garlands and the auspicious tilak adorning their foreheads.

These special guests who are about to proceed on a guided tour of the Fashion Craft facility, are international representatives from global organizations in the US, UK and South East Asia, in Bengaluru to attend the annual conference of the Sustainability Apparel Council (SAC). The SAC conference was held in India for the first time and our parent company, Aditya Birla Group was the proud Platinum Sponsor.

For the 1500 employees of Fashion Craft, many of whom have been with the facility since its inception in 2007, this was a great opportunity to showcase their skill sets and innovative, sustainable techniques utilized in producing some 2.5 lakh shirts per month, apart from trousers and suits, for industry-leading ABFRL brand labels of Louis Philippe, Van Heusen, Allen Solly and Peter England.

Dr. Naresh Tyagi, Chief Sustainability Officer, ABFRL who led the delegation said, “Our factory visit provided an excellent avenue to present the exceptional progress we have made towards integrating sustainability into the manufacturing and design process, that beautifully weaves together the finer aspects fashion, comfort and luxury.”

Mr. Lal Sudakaran, Head-Manufacturing, Madura Clothing, ABFRL played a warm host and presided over the factory tour, even as the factory workers – almost 90% women, worked away diligently at their sewing machines in the background, unfazed by the visitors who had come to watch them weave their magic.

Flagging off the tour, ABFRL’s power brands – Louis Philippe, Van Heusen, Allen Solly and Peter England put up a select display of their sustainable innovations. This included Louis Philippe’s Evolve and Naturelle naturally dyed clothing lines, Van Heusen’s zero detergent Easy Wash shirts, Allen Solly’s traditional hand-woven Ikat shirts and Peter England’s handcrafted Madhubani and Block Printed artisanal shirts.

From the finished products to the cutting and sewing lines for mid-range and luxury shirts, to intensive training techniques, ‘Kaizen’ innovations by factory workers and internal reward programs for employees, the factory tour was informative and in-depth.

“It is inspiring to see such progress being made at a cut and sew facility on sustainability and can be used as an example and learning for other factories in this region and across Asia,” remarked Adrianne Gilbride, Sustainability Specialist, Arcteryx Equipment Inc.

Adding an interactive element to the tour, delegates were also presented with Van Heusen ‘My Fit’ shirts (an innovative concept that specializes in made-to-measure shirts that are a guaranteed perfect fit, available in a wide variety of styles and colors). A visit to the in-house crèche with the factory workers’ children was also part of the day’s experience.

The eventful tour concluded on a high note with delegates taking home a token of appreciation from the brands that included a few of their products and of course, a framed group photograph as a momento of their visit.

Sophie Schop, Senior Project Manager of Communications, SAC aptly sums it up. “It was a pleasure to learn more about (Madura Clothing’s) sustainability activities, see practical examples and experience what life in the factory is like. I learned a lot and feel you have been putting transparency into practice by providing us an insight into your daily operations. I really appreciate all the efforts.”
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