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Strength in sustainability: Nilanka Fernando

With sustainability at the forefront of PDS Vietnam’s practices, this trailblazing company is proving to the world, one garment at a time, that fashion needn’t be a wasteful industry.

PDS’s ethos underpins everything that is done and every decision that is made, every single day. Integrity, transparency and an emphasis on ethical practices consistently sets PDS apart from its competitors, and has ensured that it is recognized as one of the most trusted solutions providers to retailers and fashion brands around the globe.

"We are heavily investing in our mission as a company to provide outstanding service and sustainable innovative design sourced in the most ethical manner," Vietnam Country Manager Nilanka Fernando tells The CEO Magazine. "This is combined together with our values, which are trust, integrity and ethics, transparency, collaboration and teamwork, customer-centricity, social responsibility, people first and the entrepreneurial spirit."

Given the increased dialogue around fast fashion and the waste produced in the textile industry on an international scale, it’s encouraging to learn that one of the primary goals of PDS is a dedication to sustainability, with a pledge to always keep evolving and improving their practices.

"Sustainability is the future," Fernando says. "We want to be the driving force into bringing changes to the fashion industry. That is something that is also becoming the first choice of our supply chain partners.

"Similarly, as an organization, we have a mission of sustainability, to provide our clients with outstanding service, design excellence and the most ethical and sustainable and traceable sourcing solutions for the fashion industry. We don’t believe sustainability is just one part. It is a combination of a lot of segments."

"We want to be the driving force into bringing changes to the fashion industry. That is something that is also becoming the first choice of our supply chain partners." – Nilanka Fernando

Fernando explains that sustainability is about so much more than just the fabrics and materials. It’s really about transparency and traceability surrounding chemicals, water management, new technologies, the longevity of products, carbon emissions and energy management, as well as the people and communities involved.

"We are driven by a commitment to ethical and sustainable sourcing," he says. "PDS Group is a member of Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), and is committed to achieving zero discharge of hazardous chemicals and to significantly reducing water consumption in the supply chain. The Group is proud – our denim vertical has successfully eliminated the use of potassium permanganate from all our products, while maintaining the authentic look of denim."

In 2021, PDS started its journey to a net zero supply chain, with the wider PDS Group engaging the United Kingdom Carbon Trust to accelerate the process and provide solutions to reduce carbon units. In terms of giving back to the communities it works in, PDS has also been the sole sponsor for the foundation Soham Kids for Kids since 2014, providing free primary and secondary education for over 500 children in India and Bangladesh.

"PDS’s strong financial and risk management capabilities are fundamental, especially given the current economic challenges," Fernando says. "Whether it is a customer, our raw material supplier, a manufacturer or any of our service providers, we are together on this journey."

Integral to the success of PDS, especially during such unpredictable times as during the COVID-19 pandemic, has been the dependence on high-quality supply partners.

"We start every relationship with trust," Fernando says. "So we have a mechanism in the organization where, first of all, social compliance and ethical service is the number one priority before getting into any business. We won’t have conversations with any supply chain partners if social compliance is not part of their business."

Once it’s been established that the supplier shares the same ideologies and sustainable practices as PDS, a mutually-beneficial relationship can be formed. "They are able to bring further investment and innovations and resources to their manufacturing facilities by having a strategic partnership with us because we are able to give them a commitment for long-term business longevity," Fernando says.

"That allows them to grow with us. So it is a win–win situation. Then verticality, if you look at where the sourcing is currently heading, especially in terms of how we can control and hold the traceability and accountability to be sustainable, we want end-to-end solutions. Through having a strategic partnership, we are able to bring flexibility to customers, more sustainable products to customers, offer lower minimum order quantity and a quick turnaround, and we are able to offer verticality."

Again, through transparency, trust and teamwork, every party wins – PDS, the suppliers, the customers, and most significantly, the earth itself.

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