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How Do the Biggest Companies in Sportswear Score on Sustainability?

Puma tops The BoF Sustainability Index 2022, but Skechers, Fila Holdings and Anta Sports are among the lowest performers overall.
Sportswear company Puma topped the BoF Sustainability Index 2022.
The BoF Sustainability Index 2022

Sportswear’s focus on both technical materials to help boost athletic performance and outdoor activities provide the market segment with a clear connection to the environment and innovation. But sportswear is also heavily reliant on synthetic plastic materials and is weighed down by historic links to labour abuses. So how are its biggest companies performing when it comes to reducing negative environmental and social impact?

Every year, BoF Insights benchmarks the sustainability efforts of fashion’s biggest companies within the luxury, high street and sportswear segments to understand the answers to just these kinds of questions. The BoF Sustainability Index assesses companies’ progress towards ambitious environmental and social targets across six impact categories, designed to align with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and efforts to curb global warming by 2030.

The 2022 edition of the Index analyses the sustainability performance at 30 of fashion’s largest public companies by revenue as reported in 2020. The performance of the 10 biggest companies in each of the three segments is assessed using a framework of more than 200 questions, with companies gaining a point if their public disclosures indicate they meet the required criteria. The results enable like-for-like comparisons and in-depth market segment analysis on fashion’s sustainability performance.

How did the sportswear segment perform in The BoF Sustainability Index 2022?

The BoF Sustainability Index 2022 Segment Analysis

As a group, the sportswear segment slightly underperformed the overall Index average, but sportswear brand Puma topped the entire Index.

The overall average score for the 10 sportswear companies assessed came in at 26 points out of 100, compared to 28 points for the complete Index. Within the individual impact categories, the segment performed more or less on par with the overall Index average in Water & Chemicals, Workers’ Rights and Waste, but underperformed in Emissions, Transparency and Materials.

The segment’s overall performance was dragged down by a significant concentration of companies falling in the bottom portion of the complete Index, with scores of less than 10 points and very limited disclosure of the policies and practices they have in place across any of the impact categories.

Who leads the sportswear segment on sustainability?

The BoF Sustainability Index 2022 is based on publicly available information published on or before Dec. 31, 2021. Points are out of a possible 100.

Puma tops both the sportswear segment ranking and the complete Index, overtaking Nike, which had led the segment in the previous year’s Index.

Puma’s overall score of 49 points out of 100 reflects particularly strong performance in Emissions and Transparency. Meanwhile, Nike slid back in the rankings to come joint second in the sportswear segment and joint fifth in the complete Index of 30 companies.

Which sportswear companies are lagging?

A number of companies in the sportswear segment achieved particularly low overall scores, with Skechers, Fila Holdings and Anta Sports receiving an average of less than 10 points out of 100. All three rank in the Index’s bottom five companies. Under Armour, with a score of 13, ranks sixth from bottom.

The bottom line

No company is doing enough to tackle fashion’s sustainability challenges, and while the sportswear segment has a particularly wide distribution between leaders and laggards, its performance largely aligns with the overall findings of the Index: with just eight years left to reach targets, inaction at many of the industry’s biggest players is eclipsing incremental progress among frontrunners, leaving the industry with the need to urgently improve in every area of analysis.

The BoF Sustainability Index 2022 tracks fashion's progress towards critical environmental and social targets for 2030.

How does The BoF Sustainability Index Work?

The BoF Sustainability Index examines the 10 biggest public companies by revenue in 2020 in three fashion industry segments: luxury, high street and sportswear. It assesses performance across six impact categories: Emissions, Transparency, Water & Chemicals, Waste, Materials and Workers’ rights.

Within those categories, the companies are benchmarked against 16 ambitious environmental and social targets established by The Business of Fashion in consultation with a group of respected global experts. Each target contains a series of binary metrics (201 in total), which BoF researchers scored “yes” or “no” based on information that was publicly available on or prior to Dec. 31, 2021.

More information on the methodology is available in our FAQs, or purchase the report from BoF Insights to review it in full.

This article forms part of a series also addresses the performance of the luxury and high street segments.

For more BoF sustainability coverage, sign up now for our new Weekly Sustainability Briefing by Sarah Kent.

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