Kering launches first ‘regenerative sourcing’ standard for fashion suppliers

Luxury fashion company Kering has launched a fashion industry standard capable of verifying raw materials and finished products as 'regenerative', after partnering with environmental charity The Savory Institute to advocate for 'net-positive' sourcing solutions.

The framework assesses the extent to which certain agricultural methods used to produce cotton, wool and leather “give back” to the environment – by restoring soil quality or sequestering CO2 within carbon sinks, for example.

Using The Savory Institute’s Ecological Outcome Verification (EOV) metrics, the framework measures the indicators of ecosystem functionality in order to assess the environmental “health” of agricultural land in supply chains.

The data is then analysed, with farmers informed of any areas which require improvement and offered training on how to manage their land in a more sustainable way. The ultimate aim is to help such farmers reach ‘net-positivity’ in terms of their land and water stewardship.

The launch of the framework comes shortly after Kering adopted the EOV metrics itself, using them to assess the environmental impact of its supply chain sourcing as it works towards ‘net-positivity’.

Under this partnership, the company, which owns brands such as Gucci and Balenciaga, will work with The Savory Institute to develop a new network of farms using “climate-positive” practices, enabling it to only source from “regenerative” certified suppliers.

Kering’s chief sustainability officer Marie-Claire Daveu said the launch of the certification and verified farm network will serve not just to make her company’s supply chains more sustainable, but to spark wider action on sustainable sourcing among the luxury goods sector.

“Regenerative agriculture is a multi-benefit solution which supports Kering’s sustainability ambitions to mitigate our environmental impacts and deliver positive outcomes along our supply chain,” Daveu said.

“We are proud to collaborate with Savory to pioneer innovative and nature-based solutions in fashion as part of our broader commitment to contribute to solving our industry’s global challenges around biodiversity and climate change.”

The move comes as Kering is working to develop a new supplier index by 2025, in a bid to ensure all supply chain actions are compliant with its company values.

Passion for (sustainable) fashion

Kering is widely regarded as a sustainability leader within the luxury fashion sector, having set a science-based target in line with a 2C trajectory and 2025 goal for 100% traceability of key raw materials.

The company was also instrumental in the creation of a new climate roadmap for the luxury sector, which outlines measures to help the industry tackle key environmental and social issues, earlier this year. Produced as part of a collaboration with 14 other companies including Louis Vuitton and Chanel, the roadmap offers other corporates advice on how to help limit the global temperature increase and champion economic equality.

More recently, Kering collaborated with six other major fashion retailers to fund the development of a new online tool that allows businesses, investors and customers to track the origin of paper, wood and viscose sourced by corporates. Called ForestMapper and developed by environmental non-profit Canopy, the digital tool is set to be used by more than 100 companies by the end of 2019.

The launch of the company’s “regenerative” certification comes shortly after The North Face expanded its line of carbon “net-negative” products to include scarves and jackets, after successfully designing a “Climate Beneficial” wool beanie earlier this year. Such products are made from wool sources from ranches that sequester more carbon than they emit.

It also comes in the same week that a group of 31 big-name fashion brands signed a new United Nations (UN) charter outlining steps the global fashion sector must take to reach carbon neutrality by 2050. Kering is a signatory of the charter, along with high-street brands such as H&M, Gap and Puma and other luxury brands including Burberry and Hugo Boss. 

Sarah George

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