The Apparel Impact Institute recently announced a project, informally called ‘The Italy Project’ in partnership with Stella McCartney, Burberry, and French luxury fashion group Kering with the aim of improving the environmental footprint of Italy’s luxury fashion supply chain.
In 2019, the Global Fashion Agenda predicted that before 2039, the global apparel industry will grow by 81%. This gave rise to a number of industry partnerships, for instance, Emmanuel Macron, the President of France established Fashion Pact, a coalition of CEOs who are working towards similar environmental goals. With Kering leading the coalition, other signatories include PVH Corp, Ralph Lauren, Capri Holdings, Adidas, Nike, Nordstrom, Farfetch, Inditex, and H&M.
The results [of working alone] don’t work. We really need to define targets together and commit to working towards them together to find solutions. I’m [confident] we will reach a level that none of us individually could reach by working aloneFrançois-Henri Pinault, CEO of Kering
This second project with Stella McCartney, Burberry, and Kerring, the parent company of Gucci, Alexander McQueen, and Bottega Veneta, among other brands aims to ‘establish a platform for manufacturers to coordinate, fund, and scale environmental programs with measurable impact’ following the Apparel Impact Institute’s scientific guidelines. The brands will be working with each other and with the factories to execute the best practices using energy, water, and chemistry, thus arriving at sustainable solutions together.
François-Henri Pinault, CEO of Kering mentioned that the results of working alone don’t work. “We really need to define targets together and commit to working towards them together to find solutions. I’m [confident] we will reach a level that none of us individually could reach by working alone.”
Lewis Perkins, the President of AII, stated that fashion brands have always been a little quiet and secretive about their supply chains. “With this project, Burberry, Stella, and Kering are coming to the table and publicly collaborating across a shared supply chain. It’s really exciting to see that even in the pandemic, these brands were so willing to get behind it.”
Kering, Stella McCartney, and Burberry have individual relationships with AII but realised they could make an even more powerful impact partnering together. Back in 2018, McCartney pushed for designers to ‘link arms’: “If I could have more people join me in creating solutions, and there’s more demand, then we’re going to succeed. I need a few more colleagues linking my arm and standing shoulder to shoulder with me.”
Kurt Kipka, AII’s Vice President of Programs, said, “There’s a lot of work to be done to achieve the industry’s aspirations, and it just doesn’t make sense from a resourcing standpoint—especially in the current economic environment that we’re in—for every organization to take on these challenges on their own. In a post-COVID world, it’ll be even more important to ensure that every resource is applied in the most effective, efficient way possible.”
Starting with around 20 Italian facilities, the project will take place over the course of several months and years.
Fashion brands have always been a little quiet and secretive about their supply chains. With this project, Burberry, Stella, and Kering are coming to the table and publicly collaborating across a shared supply chain. It’s really exciting to see that even in the pandemic, these brands were so willing to get behind itLewis Perkins, President of AII
Perkins said they intend to collaborate with a local nonprofit organization to build the long-term program, with the end goal of ‘decarbonizing’ the entire Italian supply chain.
Kipka added that these types of projects are the ‘gateway drug’ for increased transparency and the ability for [brands and suppliers] to do more. “It’s a matter of dipping your toe in the water and [seeing that] being transparent can actually be really liberating, not constraining. One thing that’s clear in a post-COVID world is that strong brands are going to rise to the top, and the smaller, poorly managed brands won’t. It’s going to be much more difficult to survive, so it’s ultimately becoming table stakes to be involved in projects like this. That feels quite promising to me.”
To further Kerring’s sustainability goals, last year in June, actress and activist Emma Watson joined the board as a director and has also been appointed as the chair of the board’s sustainability committee.
In October of last year, Bolt Threads, a biotech company creating sustainable materials partnered with some of the biggest names in the fashion industry including Kering Group as well as Stella McCartney to create a consortium offering access to Mylo, its latest vegan mushroom leather material, to enable brands to make use of it and to market products made from Mylo by 2021, further contributing to helping make the industry more ethical and sustainable.
Lead image courtesy of Kering Group.