Danish apparel company Bestseller has launched what, by its own admission, is an “ambitious” new strategy that aims to make sustainability central to its way of doing business, including a new innovation platform under which it plans to invest in low-impact materials, new supply chain technologies and new business models.
The company’s new Fashion FWD (Bringing Sustainable Fashion Forward) strategy emphasises what it calls the immediate need for inclusive and holistic action on sustainability across the value chain.
To guide the strategy, Bestseller has developed a ‘North Star’ vision, describing the ultimate ambition and providing a constant sense of direction for the company.
“Our North Star ambition commits us to bring fashion forward until we are climate positive, fair for all and circular by design,” head of corporate affairs Dorthe Scherling Nielsen explains. “Climate positive means that we will remove more emissions than we emit. Fair for all means that we will promote equality, dignity and safe working conditions for all, and circular by design means that we will turn waste into a valuable resource throughout our value chain.
“This is a significant moment for our company as we place sustainability at the core of our business. At the same time, we are fully aware of the magnitude of the challenge ahead. Without industry collaboration and the support of our business partners, we will not get there.”
The Fashion FWD strategy is based on becoming as sustainable as possible, as soon as possible, across four focus areas covering Bestseller’s value chain: Creating FWD, Making FWD, Engaging FWD and Delivering FWD. Each focus area is based on a vision for the future:
- Creating FWD is about working with innovative new fibres until everything that Bestseller creates is made exclusively using sustainable materials.
- Making FWD is about improving the environmental footprint of Bestseller’s products, supply chain and operations so they have a positive impact on the environment.
- Engaging FWD is an approach to truly embed human rights in the fashion industry, with a particular focus on the supply chain, while also providing Bestseller colleagues with a platform to unleash their potential.
- Delivering FWD is about a future circular model for fashion, where products and materials are ongoing resources.
Each of these focus areas include specific, measurable goals for the period of 2019-2025.
In addition, the retailer is launching Invest FWD, an investment platform it says marks its entrance into innovation for sustainability.
“The objective of our new investment platform is to accelerate sustainable innovation and solutions throughout the whole life cycle of fashion. For example, we will invest in low-impact materials, new supply chain technologies and new business models,” says Scherling Nielsen. “We know that we will only achieve our North Star through innovation, cooperation and by putting significant resources behind our efforts. That’s why we are launching Invest FWD.”
As part of Fashion FWD’s launch, the retailer has selected three inaugural initiatives, the first of which is joining Fashion for Good, a global initiative trying to make fashion more sustainable.
Launched in March 2017 by C&A Foundation, the corporate foundation affiliated with global retailer C&A, Fashion for Good is an industry-wide call for collaboration to help brands, retailers and manufacturers find more innovative and sustainable ways of producing fashion.
Under the partnership, Bestseller will engage in setting Fashion for Good’s innovation strategy, including defining focus areas, taking part in the selection of new innovators, as well as providing expertise and mentorship to the selected startups. The company will also benefit from specialised scouting and screening support, as well as preferential access to market-ready innovations through Fashion for Goods established and expanding network.
In addition, Bestseller has joined forces with a company called Pond, which is working on a renewable bio-based alternative to polyester. Increasing the quality and availability of more sustainable fibres is one of the most substantial ways the retailer says it can help change fashion’s environmental impact.
Finally, the company is aiming to be powered by 100% renewable energy by 2021 in its owned and operated buildings globally. Next year, it promises to unveil a project detailing how it will get there.
“Our strengths as a business are our agility and responsiveness to trends. We will apply these strengths to respond to the changing demands of our planet and society, and to speed up our transition to a more sustainable reality,” Bestseller CEO and owner Anders Holch Povlsen.
“By preserving our climate, using resources efficiently and promoting human rights, business can be a positive force for change. We want to play a significant role in overcoming the biggest sustainability challenges and we see sustainability as a prerequisite for ongoing business success. Building on some good progress to date, we are now speeding up our efforts.”