BOF Sustainability Index analyses fifteen largest fashion groups and brands

REGENERATE Fashion, LLC 01/05/2021

Business of Fashion recently launched its first Sustainability Index report, making a statement towards the platform’s commitment to the sustainability agenda- and here we want to share our insights.

In consultation with a Sustainability Council, BOF analysed the sustainability “status” of the current fifteen largest fashion groups and brands, like Kering, Hermés, Adidas, GAP Inc and Inditex.

The companies’ disclosed actions were held accountable across six categories: Transparency, Emissions, Water and Chemicals, Materials, Workers’ rights, and Waste.

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Image Source: BOF The Sustainability Gap

Each category is related with 1 to 3 targets such as “Establish a Circular Business Model by 2025”, and “Establish waste-free production by 2022” – upon which the companies will continue to be monitored by the report.

Each target was broken into more than three hundred yes/no questions (called ‘metrics’), that as BOF explains, intend to represent the pathway to achieve each of those same targets.

We found interesting that this approach goes beyond the incentive for brands to just do better in the Index’s scores, and really demands them to work towards “absolute” goals with fixed deadlines.

The average overall score of the companies assessed was just 36 out of a possible 100.

Insights describe the long trajectory to go

One of the Index’s conclusions states that “pockets of innovation are emerging in areas like circularity and regenerative agriculture, creating fresh opportunities for change”. And we couldn’t agree more with that!

But to disentangle growth from impact – a “conundrum” highlighted by the report – substantial investment and innovation are still required, so companies can achieve their circular ambitions.

The report also affirms that: “circularity has become a popular buzzword, with brands pointing to a utopian future where old products can be recycled into new ones in a virtuous waste-free loop (…)”

The glimpse of skepticism in pro-circularity actions is justified by some of the report’s results such as, “Waste free production – By 2022” being the second least scored target by the analysed companies – among all thirteen targets.

Also, only over a third of the companies are already designing products to be recyclable, and less than that, disclosed any information about how excess inventory volumes – a huge problem during the pandemic – are managed.

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Image source: BOF The Sustainability Gap

Nearly two thirds of the companies indicated they are taking steps to understand their contribution to microfibre pollution. Despite that, only a third of them indicated how these learnings are affecting design decisions.

“Regenerative agriculture – By 2030” is also a target set, and the report emphasizes that “outcome-based data, rather than practice-based commitments”, must support any claims of land regeneration.

These highlights signalize that companies must take bolder steps on their design and impact measurement strategies, and at REGENERATE, we are here to help them on this path!