Today, H&M and Zara/Inditex, the world’s two largest clothing brands, announced commitments to eliminate ancient and endangered forests from all of their rayon and viscose clothing. The retail and design leaders developed these new purchasing commitments in partnership with environmental NGO Canopy as part of an initiative to address the growing impacts of the clothing industry on the world’s forests, biodiversity and climate. Organic fashion brand Loomstate also joins EILEEN FISHER, Quiksilver, Patagonia and 17 other progressive apparel brands already backing the “Fashion Loved by Forest” campaign.
Canopy research has found that threatened forests are routinely making their way into clothing. Rayon, viscose, modal and other trademarked fabrics are increasingly made from the world’s most endangered forests, from the tropical rainforests of Indonesia to the great northern Boreal Forests. Globally rare forests are cut down, pulped and spun into suit jacket linings, dresses, skirts, t-shirts and tank tops. The dissolving pulp/viscose industry is poised for continued ambitious expansion and poses an increasing risk to threatened forest ecosystems around the world. Canopy says today’s commitments by these brands will help curtail the problem and build solutions.
“These clothing sector leaders are showing that being stylish doesn’t have to cost the earth,” said Canopy executive director Nicole Rycroft. "Canopy is excited to see two of the largest brands, both major trendsetters, stepping up to ensure fabrics are no longer sourced from the world’s endangered forests."
The global apparel industry is a US$1.2 trillion sector with enormous market and cultural influence. Now Inditex/Zara and H&M, in concert with the over a dozen other brands and designers supporting Canopy’s “Fashion Loved by Forest” initiative, will be helping to tackle supply-chain transparency specific to forest-fabric sourcing. Their efforts will both help them avoid fibre from contentious forest regions and send a powerful signal to the logging and pulp sectors that market demands are shifting.
“H&M wants to play a strong role in ensuring a future for the planet’s ancient and endangered forests. We are fully committed to exploring our supply chain and doing our utmost to avoid these fabrics within the next three years,” said Henrik Lampa, environmental sustainability manager at H&M. “Working with Canopy, we are excited to take the additional step of encouraging leaders throughout the supply chain to support conservation in endangered forests and use alternative inputs — for example, recycled clothing — so our actions create lasting change.”
In addition to the well-publicized plight of tropical rainforests due to palm oil production, Canopy says last year an estimated 70 million trees were cut for fabric production, a number projected to double in the next 20 years. The last intact rainforests of Indonesia are falling at an alarming rate and species such as the critically endangered orangutan and Sumatran tiger may vanish within our lifetimes if this trend is not reversed. In the only campaign of its kind globally, it is the combined efforts of leading brands, designers, retailers, models, suppliers, fashionistas and Canopy that will help curtail the demise of critical forest ecosystems and spark the development of solutions.