BCOME is a powerful team led by two young female entrepreneurs. Alba Garcia-Betorz (right) has more than 12 years of experience in the retail industry as Product Director. Alba’s experience in global supply chains inpired her to create a solution to solve the most complex issues affecting traceability and sustainability in Fashion. Companies such as Inditex (Zara), Mango and EseOEse are part of her professional background. Anna Cañadell (left) has more than 7 years of experience in tech-based startups, being founder team member of TRIP4REAL, startup acquired by Airbnb in 2016.
We believe in transparency, disruption and teamwork above all!
TFR: What is BCOME?
Anna C/Alba G: BCOME is a sustainability platform that empowers the textile and apparel businesses to build responsible and transparent supply chains. BCOME aims to transform how products are designed, produced, and distributed making sustainability a core component of a business. We combine knowledge with technology, strategy with design, detail with vision and empathy with rigor, all in one place. Our vision is clear: we are here to help brands to be ready for the consumers and the world of tomorrow through trusted data and human know-how.
TFR: What is the entrepreneur story that inspired the launch of the company?
AC/AG: BCOME comes from THE experience. The team gather more than 15 years in the textile and sustainability sector. Because we firsthand experienced the impact of the fashion industry on the world, we can give the real solutions the textile industry needs. BCOME was founded 4 years ago as a creative and strategic consulting firm specializing in textile sustainability. We helped suppliers to introduce their products into the European market. Thanks to that experience, we realized that the apparel industry doesn’t need more products, but REAL solutions.
TFR: The Fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world. Nowadays, more brands are embracing diversity, equality and sustainability (e.g. Nike, Adidas, Gucci, Patagonia). Brand’s activism is the new normal but how much is fake? Fashion brands are creating great marketing campaigns around environmentally friendly initiatives. It’s cool to be sustainable, or maybe, it’s cool to present yourself as an eco-friendly consumer.
According to WWD, only 20 percent of consumers trust brand sustainability claims. Do you feel greenwashing is a trend? How do you spot a case of greenwashing?
AC/AG: We do not believe in deliberate greenwashing but unknowledge. During the past 5 years, we realized that industry and consumers need knowledge to understand the consequences of their decisions. The lack of knowledge and misinformation leads to bad decisions making both from consumers and brands’ perspectives. We can not relearn, rethink and rebuild the fashion industry without information. In that context, providing trusted and easy data to consumers and brands is key to transform your business into a sustainable one.
TFR: It is usual to see brands using green packaging but their backend business (e.g. raw materials, manufacturing, logistics) is completely unknown. Only a few brands disclose supply chain information. How companies can ensure supply chain sustainability?
AC/AG: Being honest with their own supply ecosystem. It’s crucial to track, define and scope the stages of a value chain from concept to design to retailing. We help brands to face their own challenges in regards supply chain while taking control of each process, supplier and material behind each product. Brands must set the pace of their own traceability and BCOME provides support there.
TFR: How is BCOME enabling brands to be more transparent? Could you describe a case study?
AC/AG: We combine sound methodology, trusted technology and human knowledge to guide brands in their transparency and sustainability journey. Our unique platform offers 360º product solutions based on four areas: Solutions for the Planet, People, Transparency and Circularity. The platform integrates a set of solutions and indicators to measure the environmental, social, and ethical efficiency, safety and corporate responsibility.
TFR: What methodology or techniques are you using to help brands to become more sustainable?
AC/AG: BCOME transforms products into data, and data into value, answers and solutions. One of our top solutions is our environment assessment tool where we measure the water use, climate change, eutrophication and waste footprint behind products from raw material extraction to point of sale. Through this tool BCOME helps gain a better understanding of your environmental impact using quality indicators.
TFR: According to my experience, one of the main challenges brands are facing is improving their transparency across the supply chain. Nowadays, information is unstructured and is hosted in multiple locations and systems while the amount of data increases exponentially. In many cases, information is kept in spreadsheets/excels which increases data management complexity.
To audit or develop sustainability programs, companies must clean their data (e.g. cleansing), turning raw data into valuable business insights. How is BCOME facing the challenge of dealing with such a challenge (infoxication: information intoxication)?
AC/AG: Infoxication is one of our day to day battles. BCOME can help you here! First step is always KNOWING what’s behind your supply chain. Again, transparency is crucial here! Our traceability tool includes the procedures that allow awareness and validation of the history, location, conditions and trajectory of a product throughout the value chain in a user friendly way.
TFR: Patagonia is selling upcycled items and opening new resale stores with their Worn Wear “label”.
What are the challenges of circularity in fashion?
AC/AG: Fashion is a complex industry facing critical environmental and social issues. Our production and consumption model is no longer an option. We all dare to imagine and implement ‘solutions’ that fit into the existing system but only a few are brave enough to imagine what will life be like after a rapid and radical reduction in consumption. We need to use imagination. Think less and synthesize the problem at a starting point: the fashion industry has a problem with overproduction. Closed loop solutions are an option but it’s not enough. The ‘circular economy’ or other technological solutions will not be able to sustain the current volumes of consumer demand. We must stop producing new materials and products, and recycle those that we have already produced. Waste must be used as a resource.
TFR: As I described on my latest book, Fashion Goes Tech (2021), technology is helping retailers to be more sustainable. Provenance a UK-based platform and consultancy, uses tech to power transparent businesses and traceable products. Provenance has, in collaboration with Martine Jarglaard (a fashion brand), proved blockchain’s potential by tracking the journey of raw material through the supply chain.
What is the role of technology in sustainability? Do you feel technology is a key sustainability enabler?
AC/AG: Technology is only a tool, the real difference comes from human knowledge and experience. The combination of both is what will make the difference.
TFR: In regards of talent, what skills are you looking for at BCOME or what retailers should look for, in your opinion? Big data analyst, chemical experts, engineers, designers…?
AC/AG: All skills are needed to drive transformation. Fashion needs a deeper, systemic change through collaboration, full transparency and disruptive solutions. Industry as a whole must develop partnerships and ecosystems that can commercialize and scale the most promising innovations on the horizon. This form of collaboration will increase the speed of change needed to drive environmental and social performance, as well as long-term profitability in the fashion industry. Building a better industry requires collaboration.
TFR: Where do you see BCOME 5 years from now?
AC/AG: Transparency, disruption and responsibility is our priority now. BCOME wants to help brands to be ready for the consumer of tomorrow and show that actions speak louder than words. We are ready to help the industry to lead the change!