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Sustainable Claims, Empty Promises

If you're going to talk the talk, you better walk the walk. There is an abundance of sustainable news headlines today, which only makes it more confusing to decipher. One headline I see all over the web are the multitude of 'pledges' and 'sustainable commitments' brands are taking. But, a promise 10 years from now doesn't really mean much to me, I want to know what your solution/plan is to get to your promise.

It is very apparent that if brands do not start changing their ways, they aren't going to survive, but this fast-paced environment is pushing brands to come out with these empty promises. Vogue Business notes that only 2 brands - Levi's and American Eagle - that have committed to better practices actually put them in line with the Paris Agreement's goal to limit temperature increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius. So, what can brands do to keep up with this shifting consumer mindset?

Gap has partnered with Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel (HKRITA) and textile manufacture Artistic Milliners to develop a sustainable separation technology that removes spandex using bio-solvents. They will also be collaborating with Arvind, to develop denim recoloring techniques, so that the cotton can be reused or re-dyed more easily. These projects will bring the supply chain closer to achieving circularity.

This is a perfect example of a brand committing to a better future. Seeking help from your external partners is extremely important. Even the most eco-friendly brands don't always have the expertise to help cut down on emissions. Partner with your suppliers, invest in research, and work together to find the solutions. These are the commitments we need to be seeing.

When you put the time into developing strategies for developing better alternatives, the results are outstanding! Wrangler has been working with Texas Tech University and fabric mill Tejidos Royo to create a dyeing process that uses virtually no water. The process took nearly a decade to nail down, but Indigood is a foam-dye, water-free process that eliminates the waste created from traditional dyeing processes. This is a revolutionary process that will help move the entire industry towards a better blue.

“Sustainability is a journey to making improvement – you can have a small initiative that is seen as a key priority,” Roian, Director of Sustainable Development at Kontoor says.

According to Fashion United, Levi's has also taken a pledge to achieve a 90% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, use 100% renewable energy throughout its facilities, and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 40% throughout its global supply chain by 2025. To support this claim, Levi's has partnered with the International Finance Corporation on a $2.3M cooperation agreement to meet these objectives, as well as setting science-based targets for itself.

Real change doesn't happen overnight and you can see from Wrangler, that it might even take a decade for new technology to actually work. But, we are in the midst of a scary and exciting time. Sustainability has become a business in itself, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. It is important that these conversations are being held and this is the first step in creating lasting change. It's the small incremental steps that happen over time that will get us to where we want to be. The best thing to do is to keep asking questions and being curious.

Remember when you were a kid and you just wanted to know WHY? WHY, can't I have candy? WHY can't I play soccer? WHY can't I go to Adam's house? Embrace your inner child and keep asking why!

For more daily information on the denim industry and the brands doing good, follow me @SimplySuzette and #DiligentDenim !


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