New Company Formed to Help Evaluate Fashion Industry Sustainability

The world’s fashion industry is falling behind in its goals to become sustainable and environmentally friendly, according to a manifesto released this week by several environmental fashion organizations including Global Fashion Agenda and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition.

The organizations called for the European Union to work more closely with fashion companies to develop programs that would include restructuring and upgrading industry supply chains to be environmentally safer.

The document was released before the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, which took place May 15–16 in the Danish capital. It is one of the most important industry conclaves on the sustainability business calendar.

At the same time, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition in San Francisco announced the introduction of the Higg Co., a for-profit company that will develop technology and platforms for companies to work with the Higg Index. The Higg Index is an apparel- and footwear-industry self-assessment standard for assessing environmental and social sustainability throughout the supply chain.

Jason Kibbey, Higg Co.’s chief executive officer, said that many of the new company’s customers will be Sustainable Apparel Coalition members, including the Adidas Group, Abercrombie & Fitch, The Walt Disney Co., Eileen Fisher, Guess? Inc., H&M, Hanes, Nike, Levi’s as well as Macy’s and Nordstrom.

“The immediate priority is to deliver a great platform experience,” Kibbey said in an email. “Higg Co. will introduce integrated technology opportunities and stronger analytics, and Sustainable Apparel Coalition members will also benefit from custom services such as workflows for product lifecycle management integration and API [application programming interface] services and analytics.”

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition and its partner, Global Fashion Agenda, said that the international fashion industry has lagged in developing environmentally friendly practices. The report, called “Pulse of the Fashion Industry 2019,” said that fashion companies are not implementing sustainable practices fast enough to deal with increasing pollution from a growing fashion industry.

At its current rate, the industry will not be able to meet goals set by the 2016 Paris Agreement on climate change and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which were adopted in 2015 and were to be implemented by 2030.

Isaac Nichelson of the Los Angeles sustainability company Circular Systems attended the Copenhagen Fashion Summit. He said that many companies want to meet sustainability goals but few want to sacrifice margin and profits to meet the goals. “There’s a lot of talk, not a lot of action,” he said.”There are big gaps in setting goals and the execution of those goals.”