The Venice Sustainable Fashion Forum, the first international summit dedicated to the sustainable transition of the fashion sector, recently took place in October 2022 at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini on the scenic island of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice.
Organized by the Camera Nazionale Della Moda Italiana (CNMI) and the Sistema Moda Italia, the event aimed to identify the most urgent sustainability challenges, map out the next steps to change, and make way for an effective transition based on scientific and measurable evidence.
Event attendees included institutions, NGOs, brands, supply chain professionals, industry representatives, and sustainability advocates. The gathering attracted executives such as Prada’s Head of Corporate Social Responsibility, Lorenzo Bertelli; Kering’s Chief Sustainability Officer, Marie-Claire Daveu; and Fendi Chairman and CEO, Serge Brunschwig.
Brands and retailers are increasingly exploring new sustainability avenues, which include neutralizing carbon emissions by planting trees, reforestation efforts, ethical trade, fair labor practices, and using eco-friendly fabrics.
They are also transitioning to sustainable packaging — whether in the form of recycled or recyclable plastic, FSC-certified boxes and paper, biodegradable packing chips, and the like — reducing waste, smart planning, and offices powered by renewable energy.
It is all about the whole picture approach, with the environment and people in mind; where one does not come at the expense of the other but both work together synergistically. “I believe the secrets of sustainability and well-being in society lie with the farmers and workers in the developing world – with the people,” explains social entrepreneur Safia Minney in an interview with The True Cost.
The Certified B-Corp Stamp of Approval
Certified B Corporations are just one example of the global movement to create an inclusive, equitable, and regenerative economy. What sets B Lab apart from the rest is its ability to measure a company’s entire social and environmental impact.
The B Corp Certification designates businesses that meet high standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency, including employee benefits, supply chain practices, and charitable giving. In order to achieve B-Lab certification, a company must:
- Demonstrate high social and environmental performance by achieving a B Impact Assessment score of 80 or above and passing its risk review. Multinational corporations must also meet baseline requirement standards.
- Make a legal commitment by changing their corporate governance structure to be accountable to all stakeholders, not just shareholders, and achieve benefit corporation status if available in their jurisdiction.
- Exhibit transparency by allowing information about their performance measured against B Lab’s standards to be publicly available on their B Corp profile on B Lab’s website.
How Brands and Retailers Are Tackling Sustainability
Many brands may not opt for a B-Corp designation but are still making waves in terms of social and environmental stewardship.
Here are a few examples of how Syte’s clients are addressing sustainability in their own ways:
Hibbett Sports: Carbon Neutral on Every Delivery
Hibbett Sports has partnered with Route to neutralize all shipping emissions through the Fazenda (“Farm”) Nascente Do Luar Agroforestry Project.
Sustainable shipping is automatically provided on all eCommerce orders as an added benefit to Route Package Insurance, which protects eCommerce purchases against loss, theft, or damage. Route calculates emissions generated by each shipment and neutralizes them with credits generated by the Fazenda Nascente Do Luar project, which is certified by the Verified Carbon Standard.
“Every shipment on our website is carbon neutral now. What we do is buy carbon points to offset the impact of shipping through the company Route, which does package insurance for us. We’re excited to do that and are always looking at initiatives to lessen our environmental impact,” says Bill Quinn, SVP of Digital eCommerce at Hibbett Sports.
Luisaviaroma: Doing Good with LVRSustainable
Luisaviaroma’s LVRSustainable model aims to build a global sustainable community and promote creativity by supporting conscious fashion. Some of the criteria for its luxury products include designations of organic, vegan, ethical trade, eco-friendly, women’s empowerment, community engagement, recycling, and upcycling.
Luisaviaroma’s human rights policy integrates the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals within its plans, focusing on achieving gender equality by making the fashion industry fairer to all women and girls and ensuring they are paid equitably.
It also centers on decent work and economic growth, aiming to ensure just and favorable working conditions, equal wages, a safe environment, and improved living standards. You can read more about Luisaviaroma’s human rights policy and FSC eco-packaging here.
Browns: Conscious Fashion Services
In 2019, Browns partnered with Good On You, a leading source for fashion brand sustainability ratings. Good On You assesses a brand’s policies and practices in three key areas: people, planet, and animals. The ratings are based on publicly available information including industry standards, certifications, and a brand’s own reporting.
Companies that join Browns’ Conscious Edit are required to meet specific criteria for fashion and beauty products. Their conscious fashion requirements delve into low-impact, organic, recycled, upcycled, and alternate leather materials. They also cover processes such as carbon neutral certification, vegan-certified, cradle-to-cradle, and fair trade. Some of Browns conscious services include Thrift+ For Browns, The Restory For Browns, Made To Measure, and Made To Order.
Farfetch: A Positively Wholistic Approach
Farfetch is encouraging sustainability through its “love-forever” pre-owned styles. Some of its programs that empower shoppers to think, act, and choose positively include Farfetch Second Life, Farfetch Refresh, and Farfetch Fix.
Farfetch Second Life encourages people to clear space in their wardrobes and earn Farfetch credits by selling their designer bags. Farfetch Refresh adopts a similar strategy but is geared toward clothing, while Farfetch Fix is a restoration service powered by Restory that helps customers revive designer handbags, shoes, and leather goods.
Farfetch takes it a step further with its Fashion Footprint Tool powered by IOF.earth, which enables shoppers to make planet-friendly fashion choices. You can read about Farfetch’s 2030 goals for a cleaner, conscious, circular, and inclusive fashion industry here.
Prada: Commitment to Sustainability and Ocean Literacy
Prada Group’s ambition to play an impactful role in its industry aligns with the growing demand from customers and stakeholders for dialogue, transparency, and sustainable practices
Some of Prada’s sustainability initiatives center on special projects like Re-Nylon, which crafts products entirely from regenerated nylon created through the recycling and purification of plastic collected from oceans, fishing nets, landfills, and textile fiber waste globally. Through de-polymerization, purification, and transformation of the new polymers into threads, this material can be made into new nylon fabric.
Prada also partnered with UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission to establish the “Sea Beyond” education project and advocate for ocean literacy and ocean preservation. “My desire for the future of the project is to increasingly become a platform that can welcome new members to further foster its ultimate goal: promote the culture of sustainability and ocean literacy as much as possible,” explains Lorenzo Bertelli, Prada Group’s Head of Corporate Social Responsibility to the UN’s Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.
Herman Miller: Imagining A Better World
Furniture brand Herman Miller wants to create a better world through a range of initiatives, including operational excellence, its Better World Report, sustainability practices, inclusiveness and diversity, health and wellbeing, and community service.
In 1995, Herman Miller opened The Greenhouse, its environmentally friendly manufacturing and office facility, with 600,000 bees spread across 12 beehives housed on the premises. The bees cross-pollinated the surrounding fields, providing Herman Miller with spectacular wildflowers and honey. Soon enough, the furniture retailer began bottling its honey for guests.
Herman Miller is a founding member of The Green Building Council and is the only office furniture manufacturer in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index.
Ardene: Planet-Friendly Upgrades
Ardene is working towards waste reduction, smart planning, carbon offsets, recycled packaging, and FSC-certified hangtags. The fashion retailer has also gone as far as planting its own vegetable and herb garden and creating a space for birdhouses and beehives with over 10,000 bees.
“We’ve introduced recycling programs, a hanger re-use program, print reduction for signage, and smarter packaging. We’ve also eliminated single-use plastic at head office and individual polybags for apparel shipments,” says Ardene.
H. Samuel: Sourcing Diamonds Responsibly
In 2021, H.Samuel joined the Responsible Jewellery Council’s Sustainable Development Goal Taskforce, as well as the UN Global Compact – the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative tackling human rights, labor, anti-corruption, and environmental issues. The jewelry brand has also been a founding member of the World Diamond Council (WDC), striving towards better standards in the diamond sourcing industry.
All rough and polished diamonds bought or sold by H.Samuel include the System of Warranties statement developed by the International Diamond Manufacturers Association, the World Federation of Diamond Bourses, and the WDC: “Any natural diamonds herein supplied have been purchased from legitimate sources not involved in funding conflict and in compliance with United Nations Resolutions and corresponding national laws. The seller hereby guarantees that these natural diamonds are conflict-free and confirms adherence to the WDC SOW Guidelines.”
From a move into pre-loved sales, recycling, and upcycling to repair services, B-Corp designation, and offering tools to help customers assess sustainability practices, there are dozens of ways fashion, jewelry, and home decor brands are taking incremental steps towards ensuring a socially-minded circular economy.