An interview with… BCome

We’ve now reached the sixteenth interview in a series of chats with global sustainability pioneers.

Data is the lifeblood of informed decision-making, transforming lofty sustainability goals into actionable business strategies. By grounding initiatives in hard numbers and clear metrics, companies can not only track their progress but also convincingly demonstrate the tangible benefits of better practices. Simply put, data turns sustainable dreams into credible, impactful realities.

Enter, BCome: a data platform leading the way for accountability in fashion – especially when it comes to tricky but critical supply chains.

They’ve already got brand partners like Barcelona’s ECOALF, and Sweden’s Filippa K and Axel Arigato, under their belt. Meanwhile, they’re constantly fine-tuning their solutions to address ongoing changes in an industry in neverending flux.

Read on as we speak with Key Account Manager, Daragh Cogley, to understand what’s driving their success, thoughts on the EU’s game-changing regulations, and more.

1. Let’s start with an introduction. How exactly does the BCome platform work?

The BCome platform allows brands to measure, improve and communicate their impact. All of the sustainability information is shared via an easy-to-use, elegant platform that makes it easy to visualise what is going on in their supply chains. We present the information to allow brands to easily understand where the biggest environmental impacts are occurring, where the biggest social risks are, and how circular each product is. And it’s presented in a way that these insights are actionable for a brand.

The platform also integrates with any e-commerce platform to allow brands to quickly and easily communicate their impact, so consumers can make decisions based on their values without having to worry about greenwashing.

On top of these, we help brands use data from the platform to ensure their activities are science and ethics aligned through numerous other offerings, summed up by the words: Learn, Measure, Improve, Communicate, Comply.

BCome platform dashboard
An all-in-one sustainability platform for brands. Source: BCome

2. Some of the biggest issues you address are tracking and transparency – especially with the final shopper. With all that data, have you seen clients making changes over the years to reduce their footprint, improve social impact, etc.?

We’d love to hear a standout case or two, if you don’t mind!

Yes, of course. Our ultimate aim is to help brands reduce their environmental pressures in line with what the planet can sustainably support. In the three years since the beginning of our partnership with ECOALF, we helped them increase their supply chain traceability from 5% to 80%, their impact savings by 50% and their online conversion rate by 13% – all using verified impact data.

We have several other success stories on our website for anyone interested!

3. The “all-in-one” bit of your solution seems obvious, and yet BCome is one of the few providers that seems to have gotten it right. What has been key to your success?

Yeah, fashion companies have quite a diverse range of needs and approaches when it comes to sustainability. We do our best to cater towards these so that brands can have all of their information in one place, rather than having to switch between platforms and go through various data-collection processes.

Key to our success in this case is taking a very proactive approach to listening to the needs of the industry, constantly gathering feedback from our 50+ clients who are for the most part first-movers in the industry, and ensuring that our product developments reflect what the industry requires for the transition ahead.

We also need to lead in ways that brands may not have foreseen, so some of these changes will also come from what we anticipate they will need in the future in terms of regulations, customer behaviour,  climate change and more.

4. What’s it like to be part of a tech start-up founded by two women?

It´s great. It´s difficult for me to isolate the fact that Anna & Alba are women from all the other great things they are, but sustainability is in our company DNA, which is obvious in how everybody on the team is treated – with respect, trust and care.  We´re on a mission to transform the fashion industry, and because of Anna & Alba´s leadership approach, we do a good job of embodying the type of company we are trying to encourage our clients to be.

Alba Garcia and Anna Canadell Founders of Bcome
Sustainability in all senses. Source: BCome

5. BCome is now entering its fifth year of doing business. What challenges do you still face, if any, when approaching potential brand partners?

While brands are always impressed by our solutions, they are often worried about the data collection process that is necessary to take a data-driven approach to sustainability. Sustainability departments, if they exist, are often understaffed and underfunded, which makes it challenging to commit to an authentic sustainability journey, rather than a superficial one.

There is still a lack of urgency in the fashion industry and an unwillingness to move away from the exploitative and degenerative business models that have been prevalent in the fashion industry over the past few decades. So it’s our job to show them the success cases of the brands we work with, and how sustainability is actually a key driver of success, particularly in the long-term, as the name sustainable suggests.

Interview with BCome

6. Sustainability can be a tricky concept to define and we always ask our interviewees to attempt to pin it down. What’s your definition?

Depending on the context I use different definitions of sustainability. From the Brundtland Commission’s definition about “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”, to Kate Raworth’s Doughnut concept, which describes operating within the 9 planetary boundaries whilst delivering well-being for all.

But perhaps the simplest and easiest to understand is a quote from Joanna Macy, which says “The prioritisation of the wellbeing of all life”.

7. You recently launched the Sustainability Regulation Radar. How effective do you think these new rules will be to make the industry more sustainable? Especially if they only apply to the EU… Fashion is global after all.

I have mixed feelings about these regulations, as they are much needed and decades overdue, but are also very far away from sustainable enough, leading many brands to have much lower sustainability ambitions than they should.

At the very least the new regulations should somewhat clean up the greenwashing tactics used by fashion brands and should therefore allow honest brands to make better use of their sustainability efforts.

The regulations are also encouraging many to start their sustainability journeys and open the door to more transformative change down the line, while the more sustainable brands are now having to go a step further to maintain their competitive advantage.

Saying this, the fashion industry is incredibly exploitative and destructive in its current form and requires a lot more than these regulations to achieve meaningful change. It requires radical transformation, which means going to the root cause of our problems instead of only dealing with the symptoms. Our economic system requires constant growth to function, and fashion brands must keep churning out more and more low-quality products each year as a result, with workers, the environment and future generations paying the price. It’s, therefore, our job to help encourage brands to set their ambition levels at a point where the well-being of all life is prioritised.

BCome Sustainability Regulation Radar
Source: Instagram

8. What are some of the most exciting sustainable brands or businesses that you’re following at the moment?

Any brand that’s actively trying to change the culture around sustainable fashion away from the cheap, low-quality, high-volume model towards one that prioritises the wellbeing of all life. Particularly through using ‘waste’ as inputs like ECOALF,  alternative business models such as second-hand or rental like MUD Jeans, or those actively contributing to systems change in the industry such as Houdini Sportswear.

9. Many in your network are also Barcelona-based companies. Thoughts on the sustainability scene in the Catalan capital?

There’s a great sustainability ecosystem in Barcelona with many companies, such as Thinking Mu, and universities like EADA or ICTA-UAB, putting a big emphasis on the importance of sustainability. Ad that’s reflected in the culture here as well as the city itself.

Barcelona is constantly improving things such as public transport infrastructure, public spaces and climate refuge spaces, and many sustainability-oriented events. The city is also home to the Degrowth movement, which, in my opinion, is where the most meaningful change is coming from for the sustainability scene in the global north.

A park in Barcelona
Prioritizing green spaces is part of an ongoing urban project designed to make Barcelona fairer, healthier, more inclusive, and safer. Source: Flickr

10. What can we expect from BCome a year from now?

We aim to be the gold standard of sustainability in the industry, which means setting the ambition levels of brands where they actually need to be. This means expanding our offerings to be even more holistic and improving existing offerings to ensure they reflect our reality. Plus, going further on the human support we offer already, including more in-depth consulting work to ensure that brands use the data we provide them with to its fullest potential, both from a mitigation and adaptation perspective.

This will hopefully include a greater emphasis on contextualising brands’ impacts in line with the carrying capacity of the ecosystem their activities depend on, setting science-based targets and co-creating roadmaps to ensure we’re helping our clients to future-proof their businesses and reach the targets set out in the Paris Agreement.

Like what you’ve read so far? Check out the BCome website if you want a closer look at their platform. Maybe it’s just what you need to take another step forward in your brand’s sustainability journey.

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Anna Francesca Macesar

Anna is a writer, sustainable fashion enthusiast, and marathoner in training. From the tropics of the Philippines and Indonesia.

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