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Published January 2024


Like all modern industries, the fashion sector is recognizing that sustainability is key. However, due to recent and proposed legislation in the United States and Europe, certain practices will soon become mandatory. SOURCING at MAGIC—through our verified exhibitor program in partnership with Hey Social Good— provides crucial insights into economic impact and upcoming legislative directives that will most likely influence business operations in the near future. Additionally, it addresses consumer interest in sustainability and establishes a dependable standard for buyers when considering new companies as sourcing options.




Governments have been getting the message that a dynamic approach to sustainability is not only good for the environment and for the community, it’s also good for business. Once legislation has passed, companies will be forced to comply with policies that, for now, are only voluntary and based on the goodwill of company management.  

The Sustainability and Social Accountability Act is proposed New York State legislation, that will hold fashion retailers and manufacturers accountable for the social and environmental impacts across their supply chains. According to Dr. Cindy J. Lin, CEO + Co-Founder of Hey Social Good and Sustainability and Enviornmental Impact Advisor, “The Act is currently in committee discussion and will likely be voted on at some point in the next six months or so. Based on my regulatory and policy experience, this act has a high probability of being passed. There are still a lot of details to be hammered out, but, regardless of its passing, the Act is already having the effect of making companies re-evaluate their operations and working in due diligence.”  

The FABRIC Act (Fashion Accountability and Building Real Institutional Change Act) is a proposed federal bill written to protect U.S. garment workers and revitalize the domestic garment industry by improving working conditions, reforming the piece rate pay scale, and investing in domestic apparel production. This proposed bill is also currently in committee discussion and is very similar to recent California legislation, which was made law. Dr. Lin also believes this bill will pass easily. 

“More and more brands, from top retailers to startups, have been looking for sustainability initiatives from the companies in their supply chains,” says SOURCING at MAGIC’s Vice President Andreu David. “When we first instituted our verification program, it was about filling a gap in the market. We could see that all industries—not just the apparel and fashion sector—were moving towards regulation. Now that we’re seeing industry-supported legislation on the horizon, the need is validated and imperative. Not only has the program given more visbility to sustainable exhibitors, it also provides verified direction for buyers looking for sustainable options.” 




For the past two years, the verification program has been available to exhibitors participating in SOURCING at MAGIC. Providing exhibitors with a straightforward method to assure potential customers that their sustainability claims are both valid and up-to-date, the program demonstrates a proactive stance on their practices, rather than waiting for legislative mandates.

“When we first entertained the concept of a exhibitor verification program with Hey Social Good, it was just a vision, an idea,” says David. “Two years into our program and we are now seeing how the demand for sustainability has been hitting all industries; its really validating. 

“Unfortunately, with that interest comes a lot of greenwashing. Some manufacturers are jumping on the bandwagon just to be on-trend, making sustainability claims they can’t substantiate. This makes what we do even more crucial.” David continues, “exhibitors interested in being verified by our program have grown by 50% every season."



While there’s a great deal of interest in sustainability within the apparel manufacturing community at large, consumer interest may be lagging. David points out that SOURCING at MAGIC is the only event of its kind that offers sustainability verification, but is that sufficient motivation for companies to change their practices? 

“It's the chicken before the egg, right? If the only option offered is convenience, that’s what consumers will choose. But if it’s shown that it’s convenience versus your livelihood, your health, your future, and the future of your family and children, then people will make smarter choices. As an industry, we have to educate and inform consumers. We've done it with food. We know that what we eat and what we consume is important, so we choose healthier options. We need to make the connection and make it personal. Right now, the impacts of clothing and apparel manufacturing are removed from us and we don't realize the harm that it is doing,” David reasons.



“Our goal is to support the entire fashion industry in the transition to becoming more conscious of their environmental impact and ultimately create a more ethical and sustainable fashion ecosystem,” says David. “The system that we have created verifies exhibitors based off specific and standardized data points. We are the first and only show to offer a verification process for our exhibitors which we hope will inspire others to become more intentional when it comes to their ethical and environmental practice.”


“Our goal is to support the entire fashion industry in the transition to becoming more conscious of their environmental impact and ultimately create a more ethical and sustainable fashion ecosystem.”

-Andreu David, Vice President, SOURCING at MAGIC


Exhibitors participating in SOURCING at MAGIC’s verification program need to go through a somewhat rigorous process to be approved, but it’s not burdensome. We asked David and Dr. Lin to break it down for us.   

“The concept is that these vendors, exhibitors, suppliers, etc., self-identify as ‘sustainable.’ Our job is to create trust, to make sure everyone has a good experience, and to matchmake exhibitors and buyers,” says David. “To do that, we look at manufacturing processes, as well as business practices like energy use. Are they using solar, for instance? Dr. Lin does a lot of legwork to be sure companies’ claims are true.” 

“Because we're a data company, we go out and do half the work for you. We ask for essentially three sources of information,” says Dr. Lin. “First we capture all available information on the company that's available in the public space. We’ll review things like a company’s website or blog. Then we compare claims to existing public databases to be sure those are true. Finally, to be verified, we ask companies to submit documentation and evidence of their practices. How much work is it for an entity? Frankly, it's not a ton. If the company has already gone through the steps to have sustainable practices, then the paperwork already exists. It should only take 30 minutes to an hour to get those together. It’s easier than doing taxes.” 

“It’s easy if you're already actually doing it. But if you're just making spurious claims, then it’s hard and you’d have to scramble.” 



We asked several SOURCING at MAGIC exhibitors about their sustainability journeys.  

WFS Cashmere is an OEKO-TEX certified cashmere knit manufacturer based in China. Susan Song, Sales Manager at WFS, explains that ethical and sustainable sourcing has been a vital part of the business’s practices since its founding.   

“Our motivation was to stand out from competitors, but also to be an ethical manufacturer. It’s the right thing to do. We want to make sure every step is right and to improve our productivity.” 

WFS makes a regular practice of applying for certifications and getting assessed by official institutes, being sure that every aspect of the factory is up to standard requirements, and sharing those certifications as well as videos of the factory with its customers. They even invite their clients to come on factory tours.   

N C John Garments Pvt Ltd, based in India, was originally founded as a floor covering business using natural fibers like coir, jute, and sisal. In 1992 the company opened an apparel factory in Tamil Nadu.  

“Our Company’s mission is to be a leader for the cause of sustainable apparel manufacturing and to take progressive steps towards a more positive environment, society, and employees. We also want to have more inclusive growth, keeping in mind the planet, people, and profit,” says company director Alexander Neroth.   

“In 2004, when I got into the garment manufacturing business and saw how effluents and waste were being left untreated, I decided that this is not the way forward for us. We got into sustainable manufacturing of garments way back in 2007 and were GOTS-certified in 2008. However, during that time there was no knowledge about organic cotton and we could not survive just making organic garments. Over the years we added a lot of products into our sustainable basket: recycled cotton, hemp, recycled polyester, Supima cotton, and Tencel. Now all our business comes from sustainable products only. Our factory is completely driven by renewable energy mainly through wind and solar, and we are a carbon neutral certified company.”


“Our factory is completely driven by renewable energy mainly through wind and solar, and we are a carbon neutral certified company.”

- Alexander Neroth, Company Director, N C John Garments Pvt Ltd


“We needed authenticity for the claims being made and hence we took various certifications for sustainable products like GOTS, GRS, Textile Exchange, and social compliance certificates like WRAP, etc., certifications that are recognized globally by our customers. We are also working towards zero-waste manufacturing and we also upcycle all our waste. The process has included getting our employees trained and secure at their jobs. All employee benefits are higher than those offered by other competitors. We also had to educate our labor force—80% women—on various aspects of our mission.”



Sustainability is a huge topic, and can seem overwhelming. How can we ever catch up? As David puts it, “We’ve got to take a step back, look at the bigger picture, and agree with each other that we can collectively make it work.” 

The very misson of SOURCING at MAGIC’s verified exhibitor program is to demystify sustainabilty, making it more accessible and approachable for everyone, while also making it a journey, not a final destination. By doing so, it paves a way forward – a future beyond just the sourcing events – and champions a transformative journey for the entire industry.  

“Verifying exhibitors grew from the ideals of the vendors, exhibitors, and suppliers who self-identify as sustainable,” David points out. “Our job is to substantiate their claims. It's comparable to what the FDA does with food, making sure that the industry—and what we consume—is safe. Soon enough, our business will be there as well, as the government steps into that role. So let’s all be there, ready to meet it when that time comes.”  



Is your company or store on its own sustainability journey? Come to SOURCING at MAGIC in Las Vegas, February 13 to 15, 2024, or check out SOURCING at MAGIC Online from February 5th to April 5th, source from verified exhibitors, and to hear from experts and industry authorities speaking on a wide variety of topics specific to sustainabilty.


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