The Fashion Industry’s Index Tools and Their Impact - Kornit Blog

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While the world is still dealing with the consequences of covid19, the ‘200 Endorsing Organizations’, which include ‘Anti-Slavery International’, ‘Clean Clothes Campaign’, ‘Fashion Revolution’, ‘Remake’ and ‘Workers’ Rights Consortium’, recently established a new campaign: ‘PayYourWorkers.org’, which will kick off a “global week of action” with digital, social-media and socially-distanced in-person protests in front of stores and factories in countries around the world.

This form of action seems closely connected to the current atmosphere in the fashion world, as we also implied here recently. Many steps were taken in recent years by various non-profit and private organizations aiming to increase transparency in the fashion industry and connect brands to the way in which their production affects people and the planet. 

But besides the activist actions, it is also important to note the tools that developed in order to increase brands’ knowledge of the ways in which their production affects humanity and the planet. One of the most familiar and well-established of these tools is The Higg Index, a set of sustainability self-assessment tools developed by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) to assess the manufacturing, brand, and product impacts of textile production.
The tool, managed by Higg Co. – a public benefit company that aims to increase Higg’s efficiency and scale, has more than 250 global members from multiple sectors that belong to SAC.
Across topics such as water use, carbon emissions, and labor conditions, consumer goods brands, retailers, manufacturers, governments, NGOs and consumers can use the Higg Index to inform their individual sustainability strategies and advance collective industry transformation.
And it appears they are not alone in tackling this crucial issue: Business of Fashion recently launched its first Sustainability Index report, thus taking a stand on its commitment to the sustainability agenda. The report analyzed the sustainability level of 15 companies that constitute the largest publicly-listed companies, as measured by their annual revenue in 2019 (according to McKinsey & Company) across three verticals: the largest five luxury companies, the largest five high street companies, and the largest five sportswear companies.
The companies’ disclosed actions were held accountable across six categories: Transparency, Emissions, Water and Chemicals, Materials, Workers’ rights, and Waste. All the companies are publicly listed, as the assessment is based on public disclosures.
Fashion Revolution has also joined the trend and already issued the fifth annual edition of the Fashion Transparency Index. In their last report, they reviewed 250 of the world’s largest fashion brands and retailers and ranked them according to how much they disclose about their social and environmental policies, practices and impacts.

Does it really matter?

Apart from the obvious benefits of having a scale that is followed by everyone, and the fact that a brand can measure its development up against such a scale, there is now another very good reason to start worrying about these index tools. A large retailer has recently announced that in the future it will require all its suppliers to follow the Higg Index, which means that the large retailers are actually beginning to understand that the industry needs a change.

“These tools are kind of a win-win situation, since they save the industry money, reduce risks and increase their suppliers’ resilience,” said Dara O’Rourke, associate professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and co-author of a report assessing whether SAC’s Facilities Environmental Model has resulted in meaningful improvements. “They deal well with energy and water saving, removing waste pack from the supply chain. However, their impact is limited when measuring toxins and labor rights”. In Kornit digital we are working constantly to measure up our energy consumption and water pollution and to increase our transparency. Through constant innovation, adjustments and dedication, we aim to not only meet the acceptable industry standards but surpass them.

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