Interview with EILEEN FISHER Loading...

MADE-BY speaks with EILEEN FISHER’s director of social consciousness, Amy Hall

eileen-fisher.jpg Image: EILEEN FISHER
EILEEN FISHER is an international women’s wear brand with more than 60 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. The brand describes its collections as beautiful clothing with simple shapes, designed to move with real life. Coupled with the its commitment to design, EILEEN FISHER also has a strong sustainability ethos and with the support of MADE-BY, kicked off a pioneering traceability project to learn more about the people and processes involved in creating EILEEN FISHER product. This will see the brand map 100% of its supply chain. An industry first for a brand of this size and scope.

MADE-BY speaks to Amy Hall, director of social consciousness at EILEEN FISHER, to learn more about the brand’s mapping programme and how this fits in to the company’s broader sustainability efforts.

Could you briefly explain the project and the key aims you are trying to achieve?

By understanding where all of our products and the components of those products are made, we hope to discover new stories about the people who make them, the communities where they live, the natural environment impacted by those products or the animals who provide fibre for our products. We also hope to identify opportunities for new collaborative projects that can benefit those communities as well as opportunities for economies of scale among suppliers. Our customers enjoy hearing about where our products come from and how they are made. This mapping work will allow us to be even more transparent about EILEEN FISHER clothing going forward.

Why did EILEEN FISHER choose MADE-BY as a partner to work on this project ?

When we first decided to map our supply chain, we knew that we needed external support in order to do this correctly. It soon became apparent that very few organisations have done this work in the holistic fashion that we envisioned. Most organisations seem to approach mapping from a risk-based perspective. We wanted a partner that saw the possibilities in mapping. MADE-BY was that organisation.

“As this world is moving toward greater transparency, my recommendation is to start mapping as soon as possible. Just start.”

– Amy Hall,
Director of social consciousness,
How has MADE-BY supported you to achieve the aims and goals of this project ?

Honestly, we could probably have done this ourselves. But the truth of the matter is that MADE-BY added much more depth to the project than we ever would have had. Because of their experience doing mapping work for other brands, MADE-BY knew what the potential pit falls and challenges could be. They brought together a crossfunctional EILEEN FISHER team to gain internal support of this mapping work. This, in itself, led to widespread buy-in and shared ownership of this work outside of my team. They also very quickly created a visual map of what we already knew about our supply chain (which was an incredibly empowering experience for us), they created a Q&A sheet to prepare us for the inevitable raised eyebrows we would encounter from some suppliers, they helped us select a viable tracking system and they trained our team so that we could carry this work for ward without their help in the long term. All-in-all, they were with us at each step of the project, never judging, but always supporting and offering new ideas to help smooth the path.

How does this project fit into EILEEN FISHER’s wider sustainability work?

EILEEN FISHER is committed to “cracking open the centre” of its supply chain and sustainability work.We want to produce clothing that ultimately provides positive benefit to the earth, the people in our supply chain and our customers. We can’t continue to improve our supply chain processes without truly understanding what’s going on at every step of the chain, from seed to sewing machine.

Can you impart any words of wisdom to a fashion brand wishing to embark on a sustainability journey?

Although a lot of work, mapping is such a valuable process. It helps with customer communication, sustainability goal-setting, social compliance and internal alignment between teams. As this world is moving toward greater transparency, my recommendation is to start mapping as soon as possible. Just start.

Anything you would like to add?

I was recently reminded that we first started talking about mapping our supply chain over five years ago. Although it ’s taken this long to actualise that original vision, I’m so glad we waited until we found the right partner.MADE-BY provides us with the assurance that we are doing this the right way from day one, and that we now have the skills and infrastructure to carry this work for ward on our own.