What if we told you that the Fairly Made® SaaS platform is much more human than you think? Yes, because behind such an easy-to-use interface lies a complex world, where technology is at the service of a team with unique skills and expertise. And what better way to tell this story than to give voice to the people who are actually helping brands reduce their impact? To kick off our Inside Fairly Made® column, today we are handing the mic to Leïla Gimeno, our Head of Analysis and Legislation, who recently participated in the nationwide panel of scientific experts organized to develop an environmental labeling method.
Leïla, tell us about your background
I trained as an engineer specializing in textiles, and more precisely in the fields of sustainable textiles and innovation. I had the opportunity to make my first steps in a purchasing center at Cyrillus when their CSR department was created. I was in charge of tracing unsold goods and all the logistic choices behind them. I also took part in a zero waste project. I then joined Louis Vuitton, where I was in charge of material development for sustainable development projects in the Canvas and Textile division.
What is your role at Fairly Made®?
I joined Fairly Made® in 2021 as Head of Analysis and Legislation. I coordinate a team of analysts who are in charge of traceability on a client portfolio. More specifically, my team focuses on women's ready-to-wear and luxury brands. A very important part of my work consists in keeping a permanent watch on textile-related legislation. It is an essential step to be aware of the evolutions in this field and to understand how we can offer the best possible solution to help fashion brands to comply.
"The expertise of our engineering teams and their knowledge of the textile industry is definitely an asset to help brands."
A specialization in legislation that meets a concrete need of brands
When I joined Fairly Made®, I started doing research on legislation and adapting the product according to the requirements of the sector and the upcoming standards. Gradually, I became the reference on these subjects. The expertise of our engineering teams and their knowledge of the textile industry is definitely an asset to help brands read the laws and understand where to start to act. The issue has become increasingly relevant with the release of the AGEC Law, which has come into force in 2023, as it could profoundly change the practices of fashion brands in terms of transparency on their production chains. This is a point of no return and the industry is beginning to realize this. Of course, the urgency to comply is real. But beyond the regulations, there is an interest in these ecological issues in textiles. After all, it's a real transition to a new era.
How do you support brands and meet their legislative requirements?
Each brand has different challenges and objectives. We help some of them with eco-design and the development of an impact reduction plan. On a representative panel of their products, we bring variations to understand what they can improve. Depending on the themes to which the brand is sensitive, we consider certain indicators in an LCA (for example, water eutrophication or dangers to biodiversity). We can help to design a strategic impact reduction plan based on the modeling we have done. This allows us to clearly define the objectives to be reached with regard to impact. For other brands, we go back to their production lines to identify risks in the supply chain. We also participate in seminars with suppliers to raise their awareness on these topics.
"[Brands] appreciate the fact that behind such sophisticated technology there is a real human dimension that goes beyond numbers and calculations."
What are the expectations of brands and their feedback on your work?
Brands that choose Fairly Made® expect to be guided by specialists in the sector who know how to direct them with accuracy and who have a very detailed knowledge of all the production stages. They also trust us to simplify relationships with suppliers. And of course, there are expectations regarding compliance with the AGEC Law and future laws. As for feedback, we are extremely satisfied with the relationship we have been able to build with brands. They appreciate the fact that behind such sophisticated technology there is a real human dimension that goes beyond numbers and calculations. Thanks to the trust that has been placed in us, we have become a point of reference in our areas of expertise. We pay particular attention to comments on our product to improve it as we go along. Because although our solution meets the requirements of the brands point by point, and the feedback we receive confirms it, we can always do better for the industry.
"[...] a scientific and technical committee has been set up to draft the environmental labeling methodology nationwide. [...] For the first meeting, which took place on January 30, 2023, Fairly Made® was called to bring its expertise."
Are you also involved in environmental labeling?
Yes, I am the project manager for all environmental labeling issues, whether it be the PEF or alternative impact calculation methods. This is another key issue given the developments of recent months. We have recently obtained the availability of the PEF database, which allows us to unblock the experiments and launch the tests on products. In addition, France is making rapid progress on these topics. For this reason, a scientific and technical committee has been set up to draft the environmental labeling methodology nationwide. This committee is composed of textile stakeholders (doctoral students, industrialists, professionals) and experts called according to the topics addressed. For the first meeting, which took place on January 30, 2023, Fairly Made® was called to bring its expertise.
An understanding of the industry that gives you a unique opportunity to contribute
Absolutely. At the January 30 panel, we were able to weigh in on several topics, including labeling format and product categories. We can speak from experience: the engineers at Fairly Made® have experience on the factory floor or in the industry, and that makes us very aware of the information we are able to gather from suppliers. It is precisely the role of the supplier, often forgotten, that is fundamental to the mission of Fairly Made®. It is at the heart of our work, because the supplier is the one who answers our questionnaires and can help us make brands progress on the knowledge of their production chains. For this reason, it is important to facilitate their task of transmitting the information we need. We are specialized in the fashion industry and know how the production is structured, so brands know what information they need to collect. There are specific issues that we are used to dealing with, such as multi-sourcing.
Decisive steps are coming in France and in Europe: what are the dates to keep in mind?
In Europe, many changes are being prepared in the context of the Green Deal in 2025, for example concerning greenwashing and the product passport. For France, the end of 2023 will represent a crucial step, with environmental labeling becoming mandatory, a roll-out schedule and indications on how brands will have to calculate their impact following the Xtex experimental project in which Fairly Made® participated. This progress in France could contribute to the discussion in Europe on environmental labeling (the PEF project) and suggest corrections so that the calculation takes into account all the elements in the most correct and contextualized way. An example: at present, in a life cycle analysis, polyester is better rated than organic cotton. We could run the risk of promoting petroleum-based products. These years are therefore crucial for the textile industry, and that is why we are keen to accompany brands and promote their efforts for the planet.