• Global Fashion Agenda has released the first-ever CEO Agenda for the fashion industry, which spells out the seven most crucial sustainability priorities that should be top of mind for any CEO in fashion in 2018.
  • The guidance has been developed in collaboration with Kering, H&M, Target, Bestseller, Li & Fung and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition.
"Fashion is one of the largest industries in the world, but also one of the most resource and labour intensive"

"Fashion is one of the largest industries in the world, but also one of the most resource and labour intensive"

Kering, Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) and Li & Fung are amongst a group of industry heavyweights backing new guidance to help fashion CEOs decide where to focus their sustainability efforts in 2018.

Supply chain traceability, the efficient use of water, energy and chemicals, and respectful and secure work environments are among the seven most crucial sustainability priorities set out in the 'CEO Agenda,' which has been developed by Global Fashion Agenda (GFA) in response to industry requests for more guidance and a common focus.

The apparel and footwear industry employs 60m people worldwide and generates EUR1.5trn (US$1.86trn) in global revenue, but that value is at risk – with projections from the Pulse of the Fashion Industry 2017 report suggesting fashion brands will see a decline in EBIT margins of more than three percentage points if they continue business as usual.

The organisations backing the new initiative, including Target Corp and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), are hoping the Agenda will speak to both early movers and late adopters in helping them future-proof their businesses.

"It's the first time in history that key players from the industry have joined forces to discuss – and agree on – what to prioritise to improve the industry's environmental and social footprint," says Eva Kruse, CEO of Global Fashion Agenda, which aims to mobilise the global fashion system to change the way fashion is produced, marketed and consumed.

"It takes a coordinated effort to move the needle on sustainability, which is why this agenda for a common industry focus holds the potential to be a major breakthrough."

Built on the Pulse of the Fashion Industry 2017 report co-authored by GFA and The Boston Consulting Group, the first edition of the Agenda spells out the seven most crucial sustainability priorities for fashion CEOs in 2018.

The report outlines three priorities for immediate implementation:

  • Supply chain traceability
  • Efficient use of water, energy and chemicals
  • Respectful and secure work environments

There are also four transformational priorities for fundamental change in the long run:

  • Sustainable material mix
  • Closed-loop fashion system
  • Promotion of better wage systems
  • Fourth industrial revolution

"Fashion is one of the largest industries in the world, but also one of the most resource and labour intensive," adds Kruse. "The environmental, social and ethical challenges the industry faces today are not only a threat to the planet, but also a threat to the industry itself. That's why there's no alternative but for sustainability to become an integral part of any company's business strategy."

With sustainability a strategic issue that requires top-level engagement, fashion brand CEOs are the primary target audience of the CEO Agenda.

Karl-Johan Persson, CEO of H&M and a collaborator to the Agenda, explains: "The big challenges facing the world can only be tackled by working together. This is a prerequisite for making the fashion industry part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Our collaborative mindset has, for example, helped us when setting the ambitious goal to become climate positive by 2040. This means we'll go beyond minimising the negative consequences of our business to create a positive impact on the planet.

"But no matter if the challenges are about recycling innovation, new sustainable materials or working conditions for the people making our clothes, our collaboration with others is key to make lasting change."

The CEO Agenda will be a living document that will be updated on a regular basis to reflect the evolution of the fashion industry and its progress towards more sustainable practices and new solutions. Progress will be tracked with a 'Pulse Score' – a global barometer of sustainability in the fashion industry – which will be updated and published annually.