Cutting through the complexity: Fashion industry organisations rally together to consolidate guidance for leaders

By Constance Beswick

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06 June 2022: Today, on the eve of Global Fashion Summit, Global Fashion Agenda (GFA) released The GFA Monitor — a new report to guide fashion leaders towards a net positive fashion industry. The non-profit organisation fosters collaboration on sustainability in fashion to accelerate impact. It consulted over 30 partners and organisations to form a cohesive resource that presents expert insights on the status of the industry, available solutions, clear actions to take, and proven best practices.

 

Less than eight years remain to align with the 1.5-degree pathway and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals laid out by the United Nations. If the fashion industry does not accelerate its response to climate change, by 2030 it will be responsible for producing approximately twice the volume of emissions permitted to align with the Paris Agreement global warming pathways towards net zero emissions by 2050. Meanwhile, the global pandemic and volatile geopolitical climate are dramatically disrupting the global economy, exacerbating social dilemmas, and disrupting commodities and value chains around the world. Bold alliances are needed to redesign the fashion system and establish pervasive change.

 

In a bid to accelerate progress, The GFA Monitor presents guidance according to the five sustainability priorities of the Fashion CEO Agenda: Respectful and Secure Work Environments, Better Wage Systems, Circular Systems, Resource Stewardship, and Smart Materials Choices. Building alliances through shared industry knowledge, each priority includes expert insights from GFA’s Impact Partners including: Fair Labor Association (FLA), the Social & Labor Convergence Program (SLCP), Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Apparel Impact Institute, and Textile Exchange, respectively. Through action on these priorities, GFA believes that the industry will progress towards achieving a living wage and fair compensation for all, a significant reduction of conventional virgin resources, and decreased emissions that will lead to a net positive fashion industry.

 

Federica Marchionni, CEO, Global Fashion Agenda, says: “With such an array of information circulating about sustainability, it can be challenging for leaders to identify which actions will lead them on the path to progress. Through this report, we aim to create an aligned resource for the industry. We have created alliances with multiple expert organisations with different specialties to combine existing knowledge and reduce complexity. The solutions and tools that the fashion industry needs to improve already exist. It’s time to use them ambitiously. I hope this report can be a companion for the industry on its journey to reach a net positive industry by 2050.”

 

Through a newly formed partnership with sustainability insights platform, Higg, GFA is working to establish a measurement baseline to improve the availability, reliability, and consistency of data to measure industry progress. Data from the brands and retailers that completed the Higg Brand & Retail Module (BRM)* indicates that they have made more progress in areas of Resource Stewardship, Respectful and Secure Work Environments, and Smart Material Choices, whereas there are still significant improvements to be made related to Better Wage Systems and Circular Systems. The data demonstrates that more action is urgently needed across all five priority areas to improve industry performance. (View more data highlights below).

 

Building on the inaugural 2022 edition, GFA intends for The GFA Monitor to become an annual gauge of the fashion industry; to monitor industry progress to increase accountability, present the latest insights and impact data, and identify critical actions required to meet its objectives. GFA welcomes further cooperation with other industry organisations as the annual report evolves and responds to industry and scientific developments.

 

GFA and its Impact Partners will discuss the findings during Global Fashion Summit: Copenhagen Edition, the leading international forum for sustainability in fashion, taking place on 7-8 June at the Royal Opera House, Copenhagen.

 

Jason Kibbey, CEO, Higg – Data Partner for The GFA Monitor, says: “Higg is honored to have been selected as GFA’s data partner. We look forward to helping close the information gaps that exist today to bring businesses the data necessary to make critical interventions and reduce impact.”

 

 

Words from The GFA Monitor’s Impact Partners:

Lewis Perkins, President, Apparel Impact Institute (Aii), says: “Congratulations to GFA on this new report highlighting the necessarily collaborative nature of industry efforts to accelerate positive impact. Aii is proud to contribute content on the proven, data-driven solutions that are ready to scale for improved resource efficiency. It is only with greater transparency and an eye towards the tremendous gaps we must fill rapidly in the coming years that our industry will successfully make the changes that are imperative today.

 

Laura Balmond, Fashion Lead, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, says: “GFA brings together key industry actors to address challenges and create real change, which is why we’re delighted to share our vision of a circular economy for fashion in the latest GFA Monitor report. Together we can redesign the fashion industry from being a linear model of take, make waste, to one that eliminates waste and pollution, circulates products and materials and regenerates nature.

 

Sharon Waxman, President and CEO, Fair Labor Association (FLA), says: “The GFA Monitor showcases what is achievable when fashion companies are committed to sustainability. At Fair Labor Association we work with global brands to foster that same commitment to improving the lives of workers in factories around the world.  Collaboration is key to addressing the health, safety, and economic wellbeing of workers, especially on living wages.”

 

Janet Mensink, Executive Director, Social & Labor Convergence Program (SLCP), says: “The need to focus on respectful and secure working environments in fashion’s supply chains has never been more urgent. The guidance provided in the GFA Monitor can support the industry to move in the right direction and to harness the power of collaborative approaches that create systemic change and maximize impact

 

Ashley Gill, Chief Strategy Officer, Textile Exchange, says: “With the Climate+ strategy Textile Exchange is committed to driving a 45% reduction in GHG emissions in fiber and material production. We urge companies to consider material choices and business models that reduce impacts without losing sight of interdependent impacts such as biodiversity, soil health, and water. The GFA Monitor will provide essential guidance to changemakers in the industry’s journey.

 

 

Find out more and download the full report here.

 

 

 

Notes to Editors:

Contributors to The GFA Monitor:

 

This first edition of The GFA Monitor is a co-creation Global Fashion Agenda’s Impact Partners:  Apparel Impact Institute, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Fair Labor Association (FLA), Social & Labor Convergence Program, and Textile Exchange. GFA’s data partner, Higg, supported the presentation of aggregated performance data to contextualise industry progress and start developing baselines. Additional stakeholders who are acknowledged as principal industry experts and provided inputs into their respective fields include: ACT, Alliance for Water Stewardship, Better Work, Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), Fair Wear Foundation, Fashion For Good, Fashion Revolution, Global, Living Wage Coalition (GLWC), PEFC, Policy Hub, Reverse Resources, The Industry We Want (TIWW), The Microfibre Consortium, WWF and ZDHC. GFA’s Strategic and Associate partners acted as a sounding board.

 

Highlighted data from <more than 200> brands and retailers that completed the Higg Brand and Retail Module (BRM) in to measure 2020 performance>:

  • Respectful and Secure Work Environments: Most of the brands and retailers (82%) report having a social or human rights risk assessment in place. The majority (82%) of brands indicate that they are committed to social and human rights improvements. Most (91%) say that their company has a safe and effective grievance or complaints mechanism for workers to submit concerns on social and human rights risks. Most (90%) also indicate that their company has a way to confirm that suppliers at each tier of the value chain identify, manage, and meet compliance requirements in accordance with local regulations and international norms.
  • Better Wage Systems: The majority of brands (58%) report that their company buyers receive training on the cost of production models. Additionally, 64% of brands report that they provide favourable financial terms to their manufacturers.
  • Resource Stewardship: Nearly all brands (92%) report that they are taking steps to improve their use of energy and fuel, in addition to exploring how to reduce fossil fuel depletion. Over half (52%) of brands indicate that they are measuring their water use impacts and setting targets to improve their performance. Meanwhile, 88% report that they have supply chain chemical management programmes.
  • Smart Materials Choices: More than two-thirds (65%) indicate that they are measuring the environmental impacts of the materials they use, and more than two-thirds of brands (68%) state that they are also keeping track of which materials have environmentally preferred attributes or certifications. Two-thirds (62%) of brands are actively engaging with multi-stakeholder organisations (including NGOs and government agencies, among others) to accelerate the adoption and development of more sustainable materials.
  • Circular systems: More than one-third (39%) of brands say that they are engaging with stakeholders to explore how to extend the life of products and exploring how to promote reuse and recycling. One-third (32%) of brands state that they have programmes to take back used products from customers, giving brands the opportunity to repair items or break them down and reuse their materials in new products. In addition, fourteen per cent (14%) of brands indicate that a majority of their products are made with materials that can be recycled where their products are sold. Two-thirds (63%) of brands are incorporating circular design into packaging, which means incorporating materials such as pre-consumer waste or repurposing by-products of other manufacturing processes.

* The Higg Brand and Retail Module (BRM) is used by brands to evaluate social and environmental impacts across owned operations and their supply chain partners, from packaging and transportation, to retail and corporate offices. Developed by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), the BRM’s methodology is designed to align with emerging due diligence requirements in the EU. Learn more at https://higg.com/solutions/

 

 

About Global Fashion Agenda

Global Fashion Agenda is a non-profit organisation that fosters industry collaboration on sustainability in fashion to accelerate impact. With the vision of a net positive fashion industry, it drives action by mobilising, inspiring, influencing and educating all stakeholders.

 

The organisation has been leading the movement since 2009 and is behind the renowned international forum on sustainability in fashion, Global Fashion Summit, the Innovation Forum, thought leadership publications including The GFA Monitor,  Fashion CEO Agenda and Fashion on Climate and impact programmes including the Circular Fashion Partnership.

 

In partnership with its Strategic Partners, ASOS, BESTSELLER, Global Fashion Group, H&M Group, Kering, Nike, PVH Corp., Ralph Lauren Corporation and Target, and our Strategic Knowledge Partner, McKinsey & Company, Global Fashion Agenda spearheads the fashion industry’s journey towards a more sustainable future. Through its work, Global Fashion Agenda reaches thousands of stakeholders including brands, innovators, NGOs, policy makers, manufacturers, investors and more.

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