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The Next Economy
Fashion Giants Take Further Steps to Create Climate-Friendly Industry

The fashion industry has kicked December off with a bang, launching a number of game-changing initiatives and partnerships aimed at further improving its image by reducing its impacts.

Fashion industry launches milestone charter for climate action

This week, the global fashion sector significantly increased momentum to address climate change by launching the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action — in which leading brands, retailers, supplier organizations and a major shipping company, among others, have agreed to collectively address the climate impact of the fashion sector across its entire value chain.

43 leaders — including adidas, Burberry, Esprit, Guess, Gap Inc., Hugo Boss, H&M Group, Inditex, Kering, Levi Strauss & Co, Puma SE, PVH Corp, Stella McCartney and Target; leading membership organizations, including Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), Sustainable Apparel Coalition, China National Textile and Apparel Council, Outdoor Industry Association and Textile Exchange; global logistics company Maersk; and WWF International — have committed to implementing or supporting the 16 principles and targets that underpin the Fashion Climate Charter.

The industry-led Charter, open to a wider group of fashion stakeholders, aims to drive climate action throughout the industry, including by complementing and supporting other industry initiatives in this area. The Charter highlights the crucial role that fashion plays on both sides of the climate equation — as a sector that both contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and has multiple opportunities to reduce emissions while contributing to sustainable development.

“We are aware that more than 90 percent of PUMA’s carbon footprint is being generated in shared supply chains. If we want to reduce carbon emissions in our supply chains, we need to work together with our industry peers,” said PUMA CEO Bjørn Gulden. “The Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action provides a collective industry effort to support the goals of the Paris Agreement. We appreciate that UN Climate Change has set up a global platform and call upon our industry peers to join the initiative.”

The Charter contains the vision for the industry to achieve net zero emissions by 2050; and defines issues to be addressed by signatories — ranging from decarbonization of production, selection of climate-friendly and sustainable materials, low-carbon transport, improved consumer dialogue and awareness, working with the finance community and policymakers to catalyze scalable solutions, and exploring circular business models. To make concrete progress on these commitments, seven working groups have been established in which signatories will work to define steps for implementation:

  • Decarbonization pathway and GHG emission reductions
  • Raw material
  • Manufacturing/Energy
  • Logistics (through BSR’s Clean Cargo Working Group)
  • Policy engagement
  • Leveraging existing tools and initiatives
  • Promoting broader climate action

The signatories have set an initial target to reduce their aggregate greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030 and have defined concrete measures, such as phasing out coal-fired heat and power generation in their own companies and direct suppliers by 2025.

“The fashion industry is always two steps ahead when it comes to defining world culture, so I am pleased to see it now also leading the way in terms of climate action,” said UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa. “I congratulate the signatories of this important charter, which represents a unique commitment and collaboration from an array of fashion leaders. The Charter, like the renowned fashion runways of the world, sets an example that I hope others will follow.”

In early 2018, fashion leaders volunteered to shape a climate movement through discussions in working groups chaired by PUMA and H&M. The launch of the Charter during COP24 reflects genuine sectoral buy-in and is a clarion call to the fashion industry globally to take bold climate action.

By signing on to the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action, leaders of these organizations have confirmed their commitment to address climate change and their willingness to step up collaboration within and beyond the industry towards a cleaner, low-carbon future. The fashion industry — which encompasses textiles, clothing and footwear industries; from the production of raw materials and manufacturing of garments, accessories and footwear to their distribution and consumption — has long supply chains and energy-intensive production.

“Climate change is undoubtedly one of, if not, the biggest challenge of our lifetime. It is and will affect everyone on this planet and our future,” Stella McCartney said. “This is why I am proud to be a signatory of the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action. I want to call on my peers in the business, from other brands to retailers and suppliers, to sign up to this charter now and take the necessary actions to address the reality of the issue of climate change in their business and value chains. Collectively, we have a voice and the capacity to make a difference.”

Stella McCartney, The RealReal continue driving circular models for fashion

Meanwhile, on Thursday, Stella McCartney and her brand announced the extension through 2019 of their partnership with luxury consignment leader The RealReal, to drive consumers to participate in a circular economy. The partnership keeps Stella McCartney items out of landfills by giving them a second life through resale; Stella shoppers who consign with The RealReal receive an immediate $100 store credit to shop at Stella retail stores or online.

The partnership yielded strong results in its first year, with RealReal consignors of Stella McCartney items increasing by 65 percent and the number of Stella McCartney items consigned increasing by 74 percent.

By incentivizing Stella shoppers to consign with The RealReal, the partnership is a step forward in not only mitigating the negative environmental impacts that proliferate the fashion industry — from materials sourcing and manufacturing to end-of-life textiles piling up in landfills — but helping the industry begin to reflect the beautiful images it projects.

“Moving from reducing our negative environmental impact to making a positive impact requires all of us to change our mindset and leverage solutions that will make fashion circular and eliminate waste. The partnership with The RealReal created an easy and impactful solution for our customers to participate in a circular economy. We look forward to growing the partnership in 2019,” McCartney said.

McCartney’s recognition of consignment as a critical component of a circular economy has highlighted its importance across the industry. Through its consignment of authenticated, luxury women’s fashion alone, The RealReal has offset the energy and greenhouse gases equivalent to 65 million car miles.