Coalition to drive development of sustainable apparel

Leading names join forces to reduce environmental and social impact of apparel and footwear

A coalition has been formed by leading names in the apparel and footwear markets to develop a collaborative approach to reducing the environmental and social impacts of apparel and footwear products sold around the world.

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) includes names from the outdoor market like Patagonia, Mountain Equipment, Gore, Nordstrom, VF Corporation, Timberland and the Outdoor Industries Association (OIA).

The US Environmental Protection Agency is a member, as are other manufacturers, retailers, and academics from the UK, Europe, North America and Asia.

The goal is to lead the industry toward a shared vision of sustainability built on an industry‐wide index for businesses to use to measure and evaluate apparel and footwear product sustainability performance, SAC said.

Tools will be developed with involvement from a wide range of stakeholders, and the metrics will be fully transparent to encourage broad adoption of the index globally. To accomplish this, SAC said it will draw on the work of existing efforts to measure and track apparel sustainability, such as the OIA’s ‘Eco Index’.

It will also shine a spotlight on ‘promising technical innovations’.              

The group has been working together informally since early 2010, and have begun beta testing the initial version of an apparel and footwear sustainability index.

Rick Ridgeway, coalition chair and vice president of environmental programs at Patagonia, said: “The largest and most influential corporations in apparel and footwear together with leading environmental and social organisations have voluntarily engaged in this collective effort because they recognise the opportunity to get in front of the growing need to measure and manage the environmental and social impacts of their products.

“More importantly, they recognise the threat to the planet and its inhabitants by continuing the model of ‘business as usual’.”