Sustainability Gap: BoF benchmarks largest fashion company's sustainability performance

The Business of Fashion sustainability index measures the sustainability gap and sets new standards for fashion groups

Author: House of Eden

  • BoF develops sustainability index and benchmarks the 15 largest fashion companies
  • "The Sustainability Gap" report reveals gaps and sets clear standards for continuous improvement
  • Average score of 36 out of 100 shows that the rhetoric of the fashion industry is ahead of real actions

The corona pandemic is seen as an accelerator for uncovering grievances in the fashion industry. International supply chains of fast fashion groups are marked by supply shortcomings. Their production stops have driven people in developing countries even deeper into poverty. This has shown that sustainable fashion brands can even be more resilient to crises.

Sustainability fights its way to mainstream

Ever since the pandemic, sustainability has been a focus topic in the fashion industry and has long ceased to be a mere marketing campaign. The reason for this is also the increasing demand for slow fashion as well as changed buying habits. According to studies one third of the younger generations indicate that they would spend more money on sustainable products and would like to avoid environmentally harmful products. Green washing no longer has a chance here.

For companies, it doesn't just mean implementing individual sustainable measures, but to understand sustainability as purpose , which needs to be integrated holistically into corporate culture. Furthermore, the effect of all measures should be communicated openly and progress monitored and measured.

But how do you measure sustainability in clothing?

Up until now, a direct comparison of production facilities was not a sufficient method, which is why the online magazine Business of Fashion (BoF) has now developed a standardised and transparent method to objectively measure and compare the sustainability of fashion companies. "The BoF Sustainability Index — aims to offer a transparent and trusted benchmark to track clearly defined, measurable progress."

For the development of the BoF Sustainability Index, a Sustainability Council was formed from twelve well-known international fashion industry experts. The basis for the judgment are the following six categories, which also represent the key issues of the fashion industry:

  • Transparency: Complete traceability of supply chains as well as measurable sustainability goals
  • Emissions: The council has set the goal to reduce absolute greenhouse emissions by 2030% by 45
  • Water and chemicals: Reduction of the water usage, no use of harmful chemicals, aiming to eliminate water pollution
  • Materials: Above all, the petroleum-based (virgin) polyester has to be replaced by regenerative and socially responsible resources
  • Labor rights: Ensure the protection of human rights and ethical working conditions as part of the corporate strategy
  • Waste: No single use plastic packaging and implementation of circular business models

The result of the report defines a "sustainability gap"

The BoF report "The Sustainability Gap" measures the progress of the five largest listed fashion companies, each from three different industries: luxury, High street and Sportswear. The index contains over 5.000 data points and examines each company using 338 metrics to measure performance against 16 environmental and social goals. The index reveals clear weaknesses that require urgent actions, but also opportunities for long-term transformation.

BoF Sustainability Report results from the index

Source & Copyright Business of Fashion "The Sustainability Gap"

According to the BoF index the average score of the measured fashion companies is 36 out of a possible 100 points. "The findings show signs of positive engagement, but the fashion industry’s rhetoric on sustainability is often far ahead of companies’ actions." In particular, inconsistent reporting would reflects a wider accountability problem.

The results in summary: Ranking first place is the Luxury group Kering reaching a score of 49, followed by Nike (Score: 47) and Puma (Score: 44). The bottom line is marked by the luxury conglomerate Richemont (Score: 14) and the sportswear manufacturer Under Armor (Score: 9). In future, BoF plans a continuous improvement of the measured values ​​in order to bring the sustainable actions of the corporations in line with their promises.

Cover BoF Sustainability Gap Report

Download the full report from BoF "The Sustainability Gap" here . The Business of Fashion will further host a live broadcast on April 14th featuring international experts, thought leaders and activists on this subject.


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