Today C&A, one of Europe’s leading fashion retailers, debuted the first Cradle to Cradle Certified™ GOLD T-shirts, marking an industry-first achievement for a fashion garment. The nine-month development began in 2016, when McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry (MBDC) served as assessor for the Cradle to Cradle Certified Products Program to help C&A, Fashion for Good, and McDonough Innovation achieve their goal of supporting two India-based garment manufacturers — Cotton Blossom and Pratibha Syntex — to develop and produce two Cradle to Cradle Certified T-shirts.
The T-shirts and their production illustrate the possibility of mass production of sustainable fashion. To achieve Cradle to Cradle® certification, products are evaluated and optimized by an accredited assessor for human and environmental health, recyclability or biodegradability, renewable energy use, carbon management, water stewardship and social fairness. MBDC served as assessor for this project, and as a first step, the team visited Cotton Blossom and Pratibha Syntex to develop a baseline assessment of their factories against the Cradle to Cradle Certified criteria. By using renewable energy, offsetting carbon emissions, practicing social fairness for workers, and cleaning the water used in production, both manufacturers needed minimal improvement in these areas.
During the material health optimization process, however, MBDC identified opportunities to optimize the materials and chemicals used for both manufacturers, replacing potentially hazardous or uncharacterized chemicals with chemicals that had been positively assessed. At the end of the process, C&A’s Bio Cotton clothing demonstrates the ability to be safe enough for home composting at end of use.
“By providing our customers with clothing that is safe enough to return to the biological nutrient cycle, we are empowering the public to affordably purchase organic, socially responsible products that fully respect nature,” said Jeffrey Hogue, Global Sustainability Officer of C&A. “These T-shirts are the first step in our long journey to circular fashion, and we’re looking forward to offering more Cradle to Cradle Certified products in the near future.”
A noteworthy achievement in the design stages of the products was eliminating all the sensitizing and halogenated dyes, and instead sourcing and utilizing dyes that MBDC determined as better alternatives and which met Cradle to Cradle standards on a high level.
“In nature, the ‘waste’ of one system becomes food for another,” said Jay Bolus, President of Certification Services at MBDC. “The two new T-shirts illustrate the possibility by which we can transform what is currently a take-make-waste industry to one that is regenerative and closed- loop, to progress us toward a positive future. We worked closely with Cotton Blossom and Pratibha Syntex and throughout their supply chains to ensure the resulting apparel is not only attractive, accessible and affordable — but also a positive design.”
As a founding member and visionary behind the newly launched Fashion for Good initiative and co-founder of MBDC, William McDonough is leading the global movement toward positive design for the fashion industry and beyond. Efforts behind both Fashion for Good and the Cradle to Cradle Certified GOLD T-shirts exemplify what McDonough calls the Five Goods: good materials, good economy, good energy, good water and good lives.
C&A will exhibit the T-shirts at the international media presentation of the company’s 2017 Autumn/Winter Collection today in Antwerp, Belgium. At the event, McDonough will highlight the current steps being taken in the apparel industry to create a more circular economy.
The first Cradle to Cradle Certified GOLD T-shirt by C&A developed with the help of Fashion for Good will be available to consumers starting in June 2017 across Europe. Two additional styles, one women’s and one men’s style, will be launched in Brazil and Mexico in September. For more information on the T-shirts’ optimization process and how to begin your company’s own assessment, please visit MBDC.com.