“Every minute that passes a size of a soccer field disappears from the Amazon and 80% of those areas are used for grazing cattle. The future of fashion and our planet is cruelty-free.” Stella McCartney in Glasgow commented last November as the representative of the only fashion brand present at COP26. “This is the defining decade and if we don’t act decisively, we know what the consequences will be.” Yes, the countdown has already begun: 10 years to change the fate of humanity. But it’s time to take stock: how did the fashion system move in the year of the pandemic? The trade magazine Business of Fashion has published its second Sustainability Report. And we expected it differently.
Sustainable fashion, where are we at?
One thing is for sure: in 2022 fashion brands shifted their narrative to sustainability more than ever. Even Prince Charles of England, at the G20, launched together with Federico Marchetti the first passport of sustainable fashion. To effectively trace the supply chain and virtuosity, maximum transparency is needed. So how are things really going? Is rhetoric winning?’s Or best practices? The scope of the second edition of The BoF Sustainability Index is even more comprehensive, because it has doubled the number of companies and analyses. Already last year the document was substantial. And so it was again this year. This is an annual benchmark for analyzing the goals of sustainability-themed brands. And above all, to understand which brands can really be called sustainable. BoF and a committee of twelve experts with different backgrounds and experiences awarded a value of 1 to 100 based on a set of defined goals.
What the BoF report revealed
The starting point of the report? Track the sustainability efforts of 30 of the largest publicly traded fashion companies in the luxury, sportswear and high street sectors. The index assessed the progress of companies that tend to ambitious 2030 targets in six impact categories. That is, on the basis of some parameters: transparency, emissions, water and chemicals, waste, materials and workers’ rights. The report, bluntly, “reports that fashion is not up to par.” Not even in 2022. Why? “The industry’s performance has deteriorated as incremental progress in projects evaluated last year has been eclipsed by the inertia of many of the new companies added.” In this case: no company scored more than 49 points out of 100. It is as if good intentions are not related by concrete facts. What are the virtuous brands? Puma is in first place, followed by Kering, Levi Strauss, H&M and Burberry. While the five weakest results – URBN, Skechers, Fila Holdings, Anta and HLA Group – all scored less than 10 points. But why?
What stands in the way of transformation?
While technological innovation, policy cues, and standardized landmarks are helping spur action, there are factors that are limiting real transformative change. First, “limited liability within the industry. And then, the poor quality of the data and the lack of investment.” These are the reasons why, according to the BoF report, “overall, progress remains erratic, opaque and above all too slow.” Suffice it to say that the average overall score in 30 companies was only 28 points out of 100. And that adding 15 new companies to the report only helped significantly lower overall results. In this case, only Puma and Hermès improved their performance compared to last year (by 9 points each). And Burberry was the only new addition to enter the top 10 with an overall score of 41. Everything suggests that the new sustainability programs exhibited by fashion brands in the last year and a half have not really started yet. You are already screaming at greenwashing. But fortunately there is still time – albeit little – for latecomers.