The inaugural BoF Sustainability Index tracks fashion’s progress towards ambitious sustainability targets for the coming decade. It examines public disclosures to rigorously benchmark performance and enable like-for-like comparisons at 15 of fashion’s largest companies.
While fashion companies are speaking about sustainability more than ever before, BoF’s comprehensive analysis found actions are lagging public commitments, even among the industry’s largest and most highly resourced businesses.
The average overall score of the companies assessed was just 36 out of a possible 100, with significant disparities between engagement and action. Overall, progress skews towards target setting, with data often self-reported and unverified, pointing to a wider accountability challenge.
The global economy has 10 years to avoid catastrophic climate change and an urgent duty to improve the welfare of the workers who make it tick.
Fashion has a prominent role to play in solving these dual challenges, both because of its global scale and its cultural influence. While fashion brands have stepped up their commitments to operate more responsibly, measuring progress in a comparable, standardised way is a monumental task.
Like-for-like comparisons between companies are distorted by varying degrees of disclosures. Opaque working practices and fuzzy definitions of what constitutes “good” progress complicate matters further, creating a woolly picture of where the industry is at and what steps are required for it to clean up its act.
A new report from The Business of Fashion — The BoF Sustainability Index — aims to offer a transparent and trusted benchmark to track clearly defined, measurable progress. It employs a proprietary methodology to examine 15 of fashion’s largest companies as a proxy to measure overall industry headway.
While the months-long research and analysis found pockets of innovation and action, the average overall score of the companies assess was just 36 out of a possible 100 and substantial challenges still remain.
The index is built on over 5,000 data points gathered across the 15 companies included in this year’s edition. To request access to the full underlying data, click here.
Overall, the analysis revealed clear challenges and opportunities that must be resolved in the next decade if fashion is to align with global climate and sustainable development goals.
Discourse Outpaces Action: Companies need to move past target-setting to demonstrate tangible progress.
The Trust Deficit: Fashion needs to fix its misinformation problem with transparent supply chains and quality data
The Finance Gap: Companies are not matching bold ambitions with details of how they plan to pay for them.
The Growth Conundrum: Achieving commitments to reduce the industry’s footprint requires companies to disentangle growth from impact.
Collaboration with Clout: Impactful and inclusive industry-wide efforts are needed to drive swift progress beyond the current baseline.
A New Social Contract: Fashion must finally get to grips with systemic inequalities in its supply chain.
Pushing Boundaries: Pockets of innovation are emerging in areas like circularity and regenerative agriculture, creating fresh opportunities for positive change.
The aim of the Index is not to celebrate or chastise any company but to take stock of the progress that has been made, leverage data to objectively identify shortcomings and lay out a clear framework for future advancements.
The Index examines the five biggest public companies by annual revenue in three distinct fashion industry verticals — luxury, high street and sportswear. It uses 338 metrics across six categories to measure performance against 16 ambitious environmental and social targets set by The Business of Fashion in consultation with a group of respected global experts.
This report is the first in a series of analyses based on the The BoF Sustainability Index’s key findings that will publish in the lead-up to the United Nations Climate Change Conference to be held in Glasgow, UK from November 1-12, 2021.
The inaugural BoF Sustainability Index benchmarks the performance of fashion’s largest companies against ambitious environmental and social goals that must be achieved in the next decade.
The BoF Professional Summit: Closing Fashion's Sustainability Gap
On April 14 2021, BoF will convene leading sustainability experts and global thought leaders for a 3-hour live broadcast of interactive conversations and panel discussions, in which we'll unpack findings from The BoF Sustainability Index and outline the steps that need to be taken over the coming decade to align the industry with global climate goals and social imperatives. Space is limited.
As a BoF Professional member, register now to reserve your spot. If you are not a member, you can take advantage of our 30-day trial to experience all of the benefits of a BoF Professional membership, including the Summit.
The BoF Sustainability Index is based on a binary assessment that examines companies’ public disclosures up until December 31, 2020. There are limitations to this approach and while the assessment was conducted in good faith, the results should be viewed as a proxy for sustainability performance and not an absolute measure. Where BoF was unable to identify public evidence to support a company’s performance relating to the assessment criteria, it does not necessarily mean the company is taking no action at all or that bad practices are present. Read the full methodology on pages 38-41 in the report here or see the FAQs.
BoF accepts advertising arrangements from a range of partners, some of which may appear in The Sustainability Index. Such advertising arrangements and the Index are handled by separate parts of the business in order to ensure that BoF’s continued commitment to editorial integrity and independence is maintained, and any advertising arrangements between BoF and a partner shall have no impact on the methodology or outcome of the Index assessment. LVMH is part of a group of investors who, together, hold a minority interest in The Business of Fashion. All investors have signed shareholders’ documentation guaranteeing BoF’s complete editorial independence.