Kering: Urgent action needed to protect fashion supply chain
The fashion industry urgently needs to improve its supply chain resiliency as climate change inevitably starts to impact the production of vital raw materials like cotton, leather and silk.
That is the conclusion of a new report from luxury goods firm Kering – which owns several fashion brands including Gucci, Saint Lauren and Stella McCartney – and the non-profit organisation Business for Social Responsibility (BSR).
The report claims that high-end fashion brands are particularly sensitive to climate risks because they rely on scarce high-quality raw materials that have to come from specific sources.
As a result, the report recommends a three-step plan to improve the resiliency of these supply chains. The first step is for a firm to map out its entire supply chain and indentify the potential vulnerabilities and risks.
Step two is tackling these risks. This could include putting 'early-warning systems' into place improving disaster-risk management and improving production efficiency so that a firm needs fewer resources in the first place.
Step three is then monitoring the impact of these efforts. “Showing progress against company targets and goals is essential as it is only through understanding impact that a positive feedback loop can be created to ensure continuous improvement,” reads the report.
Kering is uniquely placed to write this report, given its industry-leading Environmental Profit and Loss programme, which essentially aims to assign an economic value to the environmental impacts of the group's entire supply chain.
Kering's chief sustainability officer Marie-Claire Daveu commented: “Given the luxury sector’s reliance on high quality raw materials, we must understand the potential vulnerabilities that climate change will pose to them and be proactive in building resilience across our supply chains.
“In fact, implementing an ambitious climate strategy at a company level is non-negotiable. By doing so, businesses will have opportunities to reduce risk and deliver against their business goals, while at the same time making significant contributions to the environment and society more broadly.”
The report highlights Ikea as an out-of-industry example of best practice. The Swedish retailer has sustainability programmes covering its key raw material sources, and specific programmes to monitor the water and energy use of its suppliers. Just last week, Ikea announced that it had become the first major retailer to use 100% sustainable cotton.
The report also calls for fashion companies that accomplish these supply chain goals to trumpet their success and the need to tackle climate change. “Luxury brands occupy a unique place in the business world because of their power to influence,” it says.
“Luxury brands have the opportunity to exercise this influence and do what they do best—inspire people to desire and dream—in support of a climate-smart world.
“They can do this through communicating their position on climate change in addition to showcasing products with strong environmental and social credentials.”