An Insider’s POV on How the Off-Price Fashion Industry Can Answer the Sustainability Question

by Tom White

Off-price fashion is getting noticed, even by the biggest competitors in the industry. It’s set to grow five times faster than the full-price fashion segment by 2030, thanks to e-commerce expansions and improved customer experiences in-store.

The predicted turbulent growth means off-price fashion will soon face the same criticism as fast fashion as the industry at large seeks to reduce its carbon footprint. We’ve turned to an industry insider, Kenchen Arjandas Bharwani, whose career reflects the evolution of off-price fashion as international garment exports continue to skyrocket, on how the segment can answer the sustainability question.

Meet Industry Insider Kenchen Arjandas Bharwani
Kenchen has experienced the boom of the off-price fashion industry firsthand, starting her career with PT Chandrishka Apparel Indonesia almost two decades ago. Her early work focused on networking with garment importers from USA, Canada and many more countries to scale the company and increase its export volume.

Her career took her across the Atlantic to work with Karmin Industries Inc., North America’s leading wholesaler and distributor. She was at the forefront of the industry’s evolution as an off-price fashion consultant, onboarding international vendors from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East as domestic production switched to importing.

Kenchen oversaw Karmin Industries’ growth into accessories and expansion in womenswear, menswear, and children’s ranges. Kenchen’s unique insight into the industry comes from her international background, linking East and West with her fabric and manufacturing knowledge to source the best garments at competitive prices. She turns to Pakistan for fleece fabric, Ethiopia for polyester, and Kenya for cotton.

The Future of the Off-Price Fashion Industry
One of the challenges facing off-price fashion is how it can react to rising demand for sustainability within an industry heavily criticized for its environmental footprint.

Kenchen identified an opportunity to utilize excess fabrics from factories working with department stores to manufacture discount garments instead of using new fabric. Kenchen’s career tracks the progression of the off-price fashion industry as North America seeks to build closer ties with its Asian and Middle Eastern suppliers while coming face-to-face with the challenge of sustainability. With fast fashion coming under consumer scrutiny, off-price fashion has a short window to change its practices and find eco-friendly solutions. As an industry insider, Kenchen singles out fabric choices and garment manufacturing as the key to a more sustainable industry.

Any off-cut fabric can be upcycled into on-trend garments by tracking consumer behavior and utilizing the versatility of everyday fabrics. Kenchen’s work with a garment importer in Dubai includes salvaging cotton-poly blend fabric originally used for printed fleeces and repurposing them for pullover hoods. Repurposing deadstock fabric is something Kenchen has worked on with importers across the globe, one of them being with an Ethiopian supplier using their excess pointelle and dobby polyester fabrics from to develop a range of activewear tops for men.

While the off-price fashion industry doesn’t have the luxury of expensive eco-friendly materials, repurposing deadstock is an innovative way to give it the sustainable credentials consumers are shopping for.

Presented by APG

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