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Google Cloud links with Stella McCartney to pilot eco-focused industry tool

Published
today May 15, 2019
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Google is building a Google Cloud “open industry-wide tool” comprising data analytics and machine learning to “give brands a more comprehensive view into their supply chain.” It aims to boost sustainability, diving environmental improvements across the fashion supply chain.


Stella McCartney's latest collection mixed in leftover fabrics with new ones - © PixelFormula



The fashion industry accounts for 20% of wastewater and 10% of carbon emissions globally and the need to do something is urgent. Fashion companies have recognised this with a raft of new sustainability initiatives in recent periods.

Announcing the move at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, Google said this will have a big effect at raw production level and that it’s working with fashion brands and specialist groups on the project, Stella McCartney being its first named partner.

That’s perhaps no surprise as the designer’s commitment to sustainability issues is both long-term and deep, making her the poster-child for headline-generating environmental moves.

“At Stella McCartney, we have been continuously focusing on looking at responsible and sustainable ways to conduct ourselves in fashion, it is at the heart of what we do,” said McCartney in a statement linked to the initiative. “We are trying our best — we aren’t perfect, but we are opening a conversation that hasn’t really been had in the history of fashion.”

As a first step, the two will target ‘tier 4’ (ie raw materials) production of cotton and viscose with the former accounting for 25% of fibres that the fashion industry uses at present and having “a notable impact on water and pesticide use.” And viscose has been heavily criticised for being the cause of large amounts of deforestation.

The tool is still in the pilot phase at the moment, during which time Google will test its effectiveness with a view to applying it to a wider variety of major textiles in the future.

And it will include data sources to allow companies "to better measure the impact of their raw materials, relevant to key environmental factors such as air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, land use, and water scarcity.”

Google Cloud head of retail Nick Martin said that “now more than ever, the fashion industry is heeding the call to sustainability. Its environmental impact is significant and growing [and] we hope that our experiment will give fashion brands greater visibility of impact within their supply chain and actionable insights to make better raw material sourcing decisions with sustainability in mind.”

He added that the “goal is not only to be able to determine the impact of producing these raw materials, but also compare the impacts of these in different regions where they are produced.”

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