Ilishio Lovejoy has had a variety of sustainability-based experience within the textiles industry. Among a number of impressive roles, prior to her current position Lovejoy was head of Policy and Research at Fashion Revolution.
As of 2021, Lovejoy is the Sustainability Manger at Simple Approach, a company founded in 2014 and focused on providing industry-leading Supply Chain software solutions with optimization in mind.
Simple Approach was recently onboarded as a manufacturer to our Circular Fashion Partnership, we asked Lovejoy, five questions to find out more:
What inspired you to make a difference in the apparel industry?
“After starting a career in design I pivoted to pursue opportunities to contribute to the growing movement towards a more equitable global fashion system. At its best, fashion can share cultures, improve livelihoods and empower women but unfortunately, global trends in trade and inherited dynamics across nations have resulted in a fashion industry that isn’t living up to what it could be; regenerative and empowering. I was saddened by the realities of the industry I had entered into, so I decided to focus my work on supporting it’s reform.”
Can you tell us more about how Simple Approach has helped to drive sustainability in the apparel industry?
“As a supplier to global brands, Simple Approach is just getting started on its own sustainability journey.
Although the team has been focused on compliance and delivering other sustainability initiatives for many years now, this year marks a turning point for the business as the team embarks on a sustainable development journey; that will take our efforts beyond compliance, and reactive implementation towards a proactive approach to our businesses responsibility and sustainable future.
I joined the team in January 2021 and it’s a really exciting time to join a supplier business, especially one that’s eager to map a way forward to achieve best practices. We have a lot of work to do but the whole team is committed to improving our business, and the wider industry.
As a key supplier to a number of value retailers, we have a unique opportunity to support understanding and progress on both the brand and supplier side. We believe that transparency and collaboration are key, and we’ll be focusing our efforts on increasing supply chain visibility and our relationships with all our supplier partners and brands going forward; in the hope that this will enable collective and pragmatic solutions to thrive.”
What do you believe are the most critical challenges that we need to overcome to implement a circular fashion system?
“Practical know-how. There is a lot of talk about circularity and circular principles but it seems like there are still a lot of gaps when it comes to solutions, technologies and knowledge across the value chain. I think we need to collectively find solutions to the current knowledge and infrastructure gaps in order to streamline circular systems.
Value distribution. Profits are still disproportionately shared across the value chain. If we want to create an equitable and fair circular fashion industry, we will need to shift towards a more equal distribution of risk, responsibility and profit. I think that finding ways to fairly distribute the workload, and income generation will incentivize efforts and accelerate adoption. We will also need competitive pricing of renewable and recycled materials, as many manufacturers don’t have the margin space to move to more expensive alternatives whilst remaining competitive, regardless of the desire.
Enabling policies. A circular fashion system would do well with the support of policies that incentivise and support infrastructure development for recycled textiles, and competitive imports and exports. However I do hope that any legislation put in place focuses on proportional and fair distribution of responsibility and rewards. I’m hopeful that the upcoming EU Strategy for Sustainable Textiles, and other upcoming EU legislation can incentivise and enable solutions and adoption for a circular fashion system within the EU and amongst supplying countries. “
How do you think the Circular Fashion Partnership can make an impact in Bangladesh?
“Bangladesh is one of the leading producers and exporters of finished garments in the world, so it’s vital that Bangladeshi mills and factories are supported in the adoption of circular fashion systems if we want circularity to move from a niche to a norm. I think the Circular Fashion Partnership can bring the required businesses and key government, and non-government, organisations together to collectively learn, and build partnerships; that will enable the production of circular products within Bangladesh. The Circular Fashion Partnership has the scope to accelerate the adoption of circular systems across Bangladesh whilst supporting increased transparency at all levels of the value chain.”
What does an ideal future for circular fashion look like to you?
“A fair distribution of responsibility and reward. A circular fashion industry that’s able to allow for land-, ecosystems- and water regeneration whilst supporting improved jobs, incomes and livelihoods.”
Read more about the Circular Fashion Partnership here.