Want a net positive fashion industry? Fair wages and circularity needed, says Global Fashion Agenda #418


Ahead of the Global Fashion Summit in Copenhagen this week, the non-profit organisation has launched the GFA Monitor, a report to guide fashion towards a net positive future.

The fashion industry must be more ambitious or risk doubling its carbon emission targets, warns the Global Fashion Agenda (GFA) in its latest report.

The GFA Monitor report, launched ahead of the industry’s top sustainability event in Copenhagen this week, the Global Fashion Summit, warns fashion must accelerate its response to climate change with less than eight years left to align with the UN’s 1.5°C pathway. Top of mind to get there? Fair wages across the supply chain and greater attention to circularity.

The report urges the industry to accelerate action for all five priorities: it notes progress is already being made with resource stewardship, secure work environments and material choices, but action related to wage systems and circular systems is lagging behind.

“The solutions and tools that the fashion industry needs to improve already exist. It’s time to use them ambitiously,” a statement from GFA CEO Federica Marchionni reads. “With such an array of information circulating about sustainability, it can be challenging for leaders to identify which actions will lead them on the path to progress. Through this report, we aim to create an aligned resource for the industry.”

On ensuring better wages across the supply chain, 58 per cent of brands say company buyers receive training on the cost of production models, per the report. On circularity, 92 per cent of brands are taking steps to improve energy and fuel use; and two-thirds of brands are engaging multi-stakeholder organisations to accelerate the adoption and development of sustainable materials. However, just over a third of brands say they are already engaging with stakeholders on how to extend the life of products and only 14 per cent of brands say the majority of products are made with materials that can be recycled where their products are sold.

Experts have long called for a way to standardise fashion’s sustainability efforts, especially where it aids collaboration among competitors. In an effort to get there, the GFA annual summit this week welcomes brand leaders, and it partnered with the UN Climate Change secretariat in March, whose UN Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action ​​has united over 100 companies, including luxury competitors LVMH and Kering, under ambitious climate targets.

The GFA Monitor itself counts the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Textile Exchange and Apparel Impact Institute as collaborators, with additional data from over 200 brands and retailers, feeding into the impact benchmarks developed by sustainability insights platform Higg. It will be updated annually in a bid to hold the industry accountable to sustainability action.