Over the past two years, some of the best sustainability reports related to fashion have been published covering a diverse range of subjects. These subjects include traceability and transparency, legislation, and market dynamics to name a few. After combing through these publications, we’ve identified the 10 best which you should read.
Hey Fashion launched the Legislation Tracker in June 2023 and the information provided is extensive. Covering both the EU and US jurisdictions, the tracker provides the status of numerous legislations from when a proposal is initially brought forward through to the final stage of a legislation being adopted. Additionally, included is information on which businesses will be impacted, links to the original legislation site, and additional resources.
If you don’t know where to start, we recommend checking out the Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR) legislation covering the circular economy initiative of the European Green Deal. While you’re on the Hey Fashion website, check out their Fashion's Waste Crisis and How to Solve It report too!
Fashion Transparency Index 2023, by Fashion Revolution
Ever wonder how the largest fashion brands are ranked depending on various transparency metrics? Fashion Revolution has you covered with this report.
These brands and retailers are assessed across 258 different indicators split into 5 key areas of:
- Policies and Commitment
- Supply Chain Traceability
- Know, Show & Fix
- Spotlight Issues
Once analyzed, the companies are given a percentage of transparency which we can then use to compare performance. Truthfully, the findings are poor but not surprising with “84% of brands scoring less than half of available points.”
Also released in June of 2023, this playbook was written by TrusTrace along with the help of Fashion for Good and Fashion Revolution. The Traceability Playbook is labeled as a “practical guide to implementing traceability in your company’s supply chain” helping all fashion brands large and small alike. As one of the most action-oriented reports I’ve read on the subject, it methodically walks business owners through defining your goals, collecting relevant data, and case studies to get a more in-depth perspective.
Fashion For Good and Textile Exchange teamed up in July of 2022 for the Textile Tracer Assessment report focusing on physical traceability technologies. If interested in the physical verification of materials, the benefits are many including to, “verify origin, create traceability of information, and flag problems in the supply chain” as mentioned in the report. However, you should keep in mind that these technologies should be used in tandem with other traceability technology to maximize the overall impact.
As one of the more focused of our best sustainability reports, Organic Cotton Accelerator does a fantastic job covering the issues and showcasing their impact on the ground. With cotton being the most used natural fiber, it’s essential that it is grown with environmental considerations in mind.
OCA connects with individual farmers across the globe educating and supporting in an effort to move farmers to grow organic cotton. Last growing season, they reached tens of thousands of farmers to begin the conversion process to certified organic farming.
As a highly applicable report for anyone involved in communications or PR within fashion, this playbook can be a useful tool for you. Co-published by the UNEP and UN Climate Change in June of 2023, it is similar to other playbooks with instructional steps to making an impact.
One of my favorite aspects is the principles for sustainable fashion communication revolving around information, culture, and advocacy. These principles range from focusing on science and information like, “Principle 1: Commit to evidence-based and transparent communication efforts” to others focusing on overconsumption such as, “Principle 3: Eradicate all messages encouraging overconsumption”. Ultimately, the playbook argues that communicators and storytellers can be enablers for driving systemic change.
Preferred Fiber and Materials Market Report is a must-read by anyone interested in the upstream fibers of the fashion industry. Another report by Textile Exchange, it describes fashion’s rebound in 2022 after COVID’s impact slowing the industry. This reversal is thoroughly displayed in the statistic that “global fiber production increased to a record 113 million tonnes” last year. With global fiber production set to continue its meteoric rise, learn more about the impacts, sources, and trends in the link above.
This strategy published by the European Commission has some essential elements which will impact textiles in the EU for decades to come. Initially covering the various impacts of textile production and its current linear economic model, the strategy then goes into new initiatives and requirements around textiles throughout the entire value chain.
Below are some key actions included in the 2022 strategy which you will find interesting:
- Introducing mandatory Ecodesign requirements
- Stopping the destruction of unsold or returned textiles
- Introducing information requirements and a Digital Product Passport
- Extended producer responsibility and boosting reuse and recycling of textile waste
Make sure to read the last two sections as well which expand on creating healthier economic systems on a global scale.
What about a report that is able to review the industry at large and show the broad economic trends? Luckily, Business of Fashion has you covered.
BoF is a fantastic resource for reports and information about the fashion industry. They team up with Mckinsey to produce their yearly State of Fashion report and once again they do a stellar job. Certainly read through the Industry Outlook and Global Economy sections for those greater trends but after, go through some of the more in depth pieces at the end of the report. I found “A New Approach to Scaling Innovative Materials” to be a fascinating piece on disrupting the current ecosystem of textile fibers.
Our last of the best sustainability reports in 2022 and 2023 again comes from the Business of Fashion and their Sustainability Index. This report is not for the faint of heart as one of the most comprehensive reports done in recent years on the subject. It includes over 9000 individual data points and was created through over 1000 hours of analysis and research. This coincides with the hefty price tag of nearly 2500 pounds (add another 1000 if you want the data as well).
The BoF Sustainability Index 2022, from BoF
Although we were unable to read through the report ourselves (for obvious reasons), the report covers 30 of the largest fashion companies from Adidas to LVMH assessing each on 6 different sustainability metrics. Luckily for you, BoF has added a summary of the report’s findings on their website, accessible to registered readers.