Just a few years ago, retailers Patagonia and Walmart teamed up with 20 other large clothing companies to create a sustainability index call The Higg Index.
Developed by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, SAC, the Higg Index is a self-ranking system that its members agree to use to measure their own environmental impact.
Each company’s Higg Index is based on a variety of factors, such as a company’s design, sourcing, employment practices, operations and use of chemicals and/or other toxins in every stage of production.
Another feature of the index is to provide a transparent way for textile companies, large and small, to measure their environmental and social and labor impacts and identify areas for improvement.
Pretty soon, if the original Higg vision is played out, that information will reach the hands of consumers as well. Within a few years, customers might able to take out their iPhone, zap the bar code on a pair of jeans and receive a sustainability index reading that will help them choose the most sustainably made jeans. Suppliers will play a big role in the sustainability movement as well. Sustainable textile finishes must add value, but fit within the sustainability profile of brands.
That is textile transparency at its best. And it’s setting a whole new standard for everyone in the clothing industry. So, whether you’re a member of the SAC or not, this move toward honest eco-branding will certainly have an impact on your business’s future.
Once the Higg Index reaches local storefronts or online marketplaces, you will only have two choices: advertise your sustainability profile openly or risk a big drop in sales if consumers choose to go with the other brand that does.
The choice is yours, but it does look like a “can’t beat ‘em/join ‘em” scenario is coming soon to the textile world.