We continue to teach our brands about the impact of traditional fabrics on the environment and how to find sustainable alternatives. Our vision is to replace all ‘conventional’ materials across all our brands with sustainable alternatives over time.
In 2018, the fashion footprint team collaborated with a specialist consultancy to develop a Sustainable Fibre Toolkit - a comprehensive guide designed to help product teams across all brands to identify, procure and market more sustainable materials.
The toolkit also provides specific advice relating to different products (including denim, lingerie, casual wear, formal wear and activewear) and materials (cotton, polyester, nylon, viscose, elastane), as well as guidance on garment trims, wet and dry processing techniques and certification requirements. The fashion footprint team works closely with brands to identify their highest-impact materials and more sustainable alternatives.
Sustainable Fibre Toolkit training is delivered to product teams on a regular basis, and is continually updated to ensure it is in line with the latest technologies. During 2019 we continued to roll-out training to design, buying and technical teams. We expanded the focus of material to include oversight of new sustainable fibres, circularity principles and the impacts of microfiber pollution.
Our work has paved the way for the broader adoption of more organic and recycled fabrics. Brands launched their own lower-impact ranges to help customers choose - and understand the benefits of - more-sustainable products. We only use certified organic and recycled materials, and ask suppliers to provide third-party certification (through programmes such as the Global Organic Textile Standard and Global Recycled Standard). This ensures that the provenance of our more environmentally friendly products is robust and that raw material can be traced back to source through the chain-of-custody system.
Even seemingly small changes can make a big difference to the environmental impact of our products. This year, we worked with our care labels supplier to ensure that they are all now made from 100% recycled polyester, helping us to reduce our consumption of virgin materials.
Besides these innovations, our brands continue to support vintage fashion and sustainable brands - such as Community Clothing, Selected Homme and Made jewellery - through collaborations and in-store concessions.
Circularity and Take-Back Schemes
Incorporating circularity principles into product development will continue to be a focus for our fashion footprint team in 2019. During the 2017/18 trading year, we trialed a number of consumer-facing take-back schemes which we will look to build on in 2019.
On the 1st July 2018, Arcadia Group collaborated with the Global Fashion Exchange (GFX) and West London Waste Authority to host an event at the V&A museum which aimed to raise awareness about sustainable fashion and re-using unwanted textiles. We were the only fashion brand partner, and donated merchandise from all of our seven brands for a clothes swap. 500 people attended and over 600 items of clothes were swapped.
In collaboration with the West London Waste and Recycling Bboard, we installed a clothes bank in our flagship store in Oxford Circus to encourage the public and employees to donate unwanted clothing. In 2019, 960Kg of textiles were collected (nearly 4,000 garments). Further circularity programmes will be extended across our brands in 2020.
Pre-consumer surplus ‘waste’ (such as production samples) is
sold at sample sales with proceeds going to charity. Other unsold items
are donated to a number of charities through our gift-in-kind programme.