INTERVIEW: Positive Impact Awards, Lyndsay McGregor of Sourcing Journal

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With more than 55,000 readers, Sourcing Journal is the premiere trade publication for apparel and textile executives focused on sourcing and manufacturing. With daily updates on global market conditions, breaking news stories, top-tier investigative journalism and industry white papers, they make sense of an increasingly complex sourcing landscape.

One of their go to writers and Senior Editor is Lyndsay McGregor who tirelessly covers all aspects of sourcing and fashion news as it relates to the entire industry (and with a heavy lean on sustainability). She’s also getting the Media Award for Advancing Sustainability and Ethics at our Positive Impact Awards ceremony this Friday night.

I caught up with Lyndsay to hear what she had to say about the media landscape in terms of sustainable fashion.

DEB JOHNSON: How do you feel media industry interest has grown in sustainability?

LYNDSAY MCGREGOR: It has become one of our most read categories. People tend to search for sustainability a lot on our website and whenever there’s a big sustainability feature, it’s always one of the most read stories that week. It’s good to know that people are interested and that they are paying attention want to be aware of what’s happening. I would say just from the trade show floor and going to conferences I definitely think it’s a hot button topic and that a lot of brands are really eager to market to consumers.

DEB: It’s a little bit of a catch 22 with the companies saying that the consumer needs to show interest and consumer not showing that interest.

LYNDSAY: Yes, it’s like you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

DEB: You talk about the challenges with consumer’s lack of interest. What are some other things you are seeing in the industry with sustainability being implemented into products?

LYNDSAY: Honestly I think it’s got a lot to do with how much consumers want to pay and price. Brands still want to make a profit they still want their fat margin. So if consumers aren’t willing to pay more for sustainable practices like better sourcing, materials, or paying their workers a better wage and making things safer it’s not going to work. All of this comes at an extra cost and I think a lot of brands look at the dollar signs and don’t think they can make their margins.

DEB: It makes sense, I mean if it wasn’t a money issue things would move more easily. Talk about what might change that equation.

LYNDSAY: I think marketing can help but I think it’s just that people are not aware. They’re not aware of how much water makes a pair of jeans, if they did they’d be shocked. Reformation does a really good job on their website making trendy and provocative clothes and yet still manage to mention how much water and energy it took to make each piece. And it’s not preachy. People are so aware of food, paying attention to eating organic and making better food choices because it’s something they’re putting into their body, but if they thought more about what they are putting ON their body like pesticides in the material they might pay better attention. so I think marketing has to play a bigger and better part in it and getting that effective message across.

DEB: It’s interesting the similarities between the food and fashion industry. It’s been a long journey over the past 50 years with people talking about eating better food. Will it take 50 years for fashion?

LYNDSAY: I think everything today is happening so much faster. Life is moving at a faster pace than previously so I would hope it wouldn’t take that long. And I think we get info every second of every day. 50 years ago people didn’t have news on smart phones, now 2/3 of the day you are most likely holding a phone with news at arms reach so I think we have so much more access. Studies that say Millennials and Gen Z care about the storytelling behind the things that they buy and if that is all true, we shouldn’t have to wait 50 years.

DEB: You spoke about water earlier, do you have a story about one thing that really shocks you around how garments are made or something exciting going on?

LYNDSAY: I’m constantly shocked. I think the one thing that shocks me all the time about the garment industry is how much the garment workers are paid. When I write stories about garment workers in Cambodia getting a raise and the factory owners against it because it’s too much and workers still getting paid $140 a month it bothers me a lot. I don’t know about you, but most people in New York would spend that just on dinner for two on a Friday night. We think we’re getting a deal on things but in the end, there’s always somebody paying the price.

DEB: Do you have any encouragement for young designers?

LYNDSAY: The industry has grown into this monster. For better or for worse, there’s awful things happening and really awesome things happenings and it can be equal parts discouraging and encouraging. Designers have such access to technology and knowledge and what not to do to contribute to bad design so I think they can approach it with such a different mindset and do the important things they want to do. My best advice is just to not give up.