Dipartimento di Ingegneria Gestionale

Sustainability in Luxury and Fashion Supply Chains

About the project

This research aims at developing novel ways to create truly sustainable supply chains through circular design, clean production and transparency. By harmonizing various management and operational theories, the research explores the extent to which utilising natural, social and financial resources in different manners could enhance supply chain sustainability. The implications also address how to tie sustainable development goals with business priorities to further spread sustainability in luxury fashion management.

Principal Investigators:  Prof. Alessandro Brun, Dr. Hakan Karaosman

Researcher team: Alessandro Brun, Hakan Karaosman, Alessandro Motta, Lisa Niepelt

Funders: Mazars Italy

Type: Private Funding

Duration: 2018-2020

Partners: multiple


The supply chain revolution of the 1990s led to an increasing dependence on outsourced manufacturers and globally dispersed sub-contractors. The contextualization of fashion has also substantially changed over the years. To illustrate, luxury that used to be conceptualised by heritage, exclusivity, quality and individuality is now characterized by quick cycle of seasonal changes that provoke impulse consumption. However, global fashion operations generate a tremendous environmental footprint while the majority of sustainability risks being located at upstream levels in supply networks. Furthermore, there is a constant conflict between supply chain responsibility and overarching commercial pressures of the fashion industry. Small and medium sized enterprises are vital for global supply chain practices, as they represent more than 90% of all businesses. Yet, our research indicates that small and medium sized suppliers operating for luxury fashion in Italy encounter difficulties to meet social and environmental requests due to their limited human capital and financial resources. Besides, buying firms’ flexibility requirements negatively affect these suppliers’ supply chain sustainability performance. Subsequently, ethical and environmental supply chain practices become more difficult to implement at lower tier supply chain stages. Even though systemic changes are urgently needed to unlock responsibility, a robust guidance is needed to show how to truly integrate sustainability into luxury fashion supply chain operations. Therefore, this research creates its interdisciplinary agenda to develop illustrative yet novel strategies at the intersection of theory and practice in order to embed sustainable into luxury fashion supply chains through such fundamental pillars as circular design, clean production and transparency.


  • Karaosman, H., Perry, P., Brun, A., & Morales-Alonso, G. (2018). Behind the runway: Extending sustainability in luxury fashion supply chains. Journal of Business Research. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2018.09.017
  • Karaosman, H., Morales-Alonso, G., & Brun, A. (2016). From a Systematic Literature Review to a Classification Framework: Sustainability Integration in Fashion Operations. Sustainability, 9(1), 30. https://doi.org/10.3390/su9010030
  • Research reports: #UNLOCKINGRESPONSIBLELUXURY: THE MANIFESTO (URL will be available on 22.11.2018)
  • Responsible Luxury Summit: Ever year on November, the research team organises a multi-stakeholder engagement event to facilitate multiple loops of learning. Not only does Responsible Luxury Summit bring together top executives, industry representatives, NGOs and researchers to discuss how to spread sustainability across fashion supply networks, but it also inspires such interactions to leverage industrial collaborations.


  • Alessandro Motta – Mazars Italy
  • Prof. Donald Huisingh – Saipem International Professor
  • Prof. Donna Marshall – University College Dublin
  • Prof. Jose Teunissen – London College of Fashion
  • Bethan Alexander – London College of Fashion
  • Prof. Patsy Perry – The University of Manchester