Line Commissions

Business schools preach the sin that it is to incur more costs to your end consumer, executives dig deep into holding market share whilst cutting back on the back end. Global sourcing leaders have gone as far East as they can and the runway’s clearly running out of space.

Rightsizing then follows, the advent of technologies increase levels of automation in turn reducing labour costs, combine this with covid catalysing the change in the definition of corporate real estate. Overheads take a major punch / thinning.

Squeezing the orange until all you’re left with is pulp is okay, so long as you don’t add the cost on to the customer…That’s the rhetoric

Customers rightly hold businesses more accountable than ever, but shouldn’t this be a two-way street? Demanding paper straws whilst ordering foodpanda/doordash meals packaged in single-use plastic (more than one use if it hangs in the fridge for a few days) doesn’t scream reciprocity.

Sustainability is a vast terrain, looking after the machinists or pressers in the engine rooms of the industry demands more reciprocity from the end consumer. Line commissions, paid directly at checkout by the consumer given to those that sweat and bleed on the line holds us more accountable. The social pressure that you generate seeing the faces of the workers who thread the needle or cut the fabric should see the more frugal of us spare what we can at minimum.

Labour supply in the next 30-50 years in manufacturing sectors stands to dwindle, scarcity increases overheads once again. Automation will cover some lost ground but let’s say Softline production continues in its need for high labour intensity we’ll be left with challenges to compensate. 

So when does it become the consumer’s turn to carry the load of reciprocity? Commerce is about the mutual exchange of goods and services. Fashion companies now have high sustainability targets all stemming from customer demand, marketing departments are more vocal than ever about hitting green milestones. 

But where are companies holding consumers more accountable? The marketing machines that are fashion organisations have the talent and reach to enact a change in the relationship between brand and brand advocate. With traceability’s buzzword period in its peak we’ll soon be able to follow the sock from the worker to the shop floor. 

Line commissions, perhaps not the solution, but perhaps worth exploring. Protecting and improving the lives of the vulnerable. That’s sustainability to me.

Keep it Radical

Rich