• German fashion brand Hugo Boss has pledged to make a significant contribution to five of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
  • The commitment is outlined in its fifth sustainability report, which also includes plans to reduce the use of chemicals for better environmental sustainability and the guaranteed safety of its products.
  • It also plans to up its use of sustainable cotton, with 80% of its cotton to come from sustainable sources by 2025.
The targets, along with the brands sustainability achievements, are outlined in the fifth sustainability report from the company

The targets, along with the brand's sustainability achievements, are outlined in the fifth sustainability report from the company

German fashion brand Hugo Boss has outlined a series of new sustainability goals, including plans to up its use of sustainable cotton, reduce the use of chemicals in its products, and to make a significant contribution to five of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The targets, along with the firm's sustainability achievements, are outlined in the fifth sustainability report from the company, which generated net sales of EUR2.7bn in fiscal 2017.

Cotton constitutes by far the largest percentage (48%) of total material usage at Hugo Boss, followed by wool (16%), synthetic fibres (15%) and leather (10%).

As a result, the group has defined specific goals for sourcing sustainable cotton. By the year 2020, 50% of the cotton will come from sustainable sources, in accordance with the criteria defined in its Cotton Commitment. By 2025, this percentage will increase to 80%.

The Signature line from the Boss brand's Men Bodywear already exclusively uses high-quality certified Egyptian organic cotton, known as Egyptian White Gold, in association with the Cottonforlife initiative. In 2017, a sustainable capsule collection was also created under the Bossmen's casualwear line, where sustainable raw materials, recycled cotton and organic cotton are used exclusively, and where particular attention is paid to special environmentally-friendly finishing processes.

Meanwhile, a part of its efforts to promote more sustainable cotton production, the group joined the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) in 2017, which supports farmers with sustainable cotton farming, trains them and provides them with licenses, thus also improving their quality of life.

But its overarching goal is to reduce the use of chemicals for better environmental sustainability and the guaranteed safety of its products.

As a result, the firm has developed an internal roadmap, set medium-term goals, and says it will collaborate with partners in the supply chain to drive innovations for reducing the use of critical chemicals across the whole industry.

For a long time, as a member of the AFIRM initiative, which works to reduce the use and impact of harmful substances in the apparel and footwear supply chain, Hugo Boss has liaised with other companies on a joint Restricted Substances List (RSL), which is regularly updated.

A basic prerequisite for collaboration with a supplier is its written guarantee that it will observe the RSL of Hugo Boss. It also provides regulations for adhering to common national and international laws on the use of chemicals and other substances that present potential health risks, and contains the company's internal policies, which in many cases go above and beyond these minimum requirements.

The specifications are applicable to all the materials used and to all the substances applied in the production process. In addition, Hugo Boss requires that its suppliers use the tools provided by ZDHC in order to test alternative, environmentally-friendly chemicals and use them in production. A Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (MRSL) that will be implemented at Hugo Boss in 2018 forms the basis of the tool's data.

Meanwhile, the group also checks and guarantees the safety and quality of its products through comprehensive tests for harmful substances, which are carried out at accredited institutes in accordance with recognised standards to assess any potential health and safety impacts of the products. In 2017, its says 2,948 materials were covered with tests, with just under of 0.5% of the tested products found to be non-compliant and therefore rejected.

Looking ahead, Hugo Boss says it will continue to make a particular contribution towards implementing five of the SDGs of the United Nations. Published in 2015, the SDGs consist of 17 goals with 169 targets regarding social, environmental and economic aspects. They address states, civil society and the private sector.

The five goals are: Quality education; decent work and economic growth; responsible consumption and production; climate action; and partnerships for the goals.

"Over the last few years, we have continued along our chosen path towards implementing a consistent sustainability management. In doing so, we focus upon what distinguishes us: quality, innovation and responsibility," says CEO Mark Langer. "We saw extensive consolidation in 2017 and our efforts paid off. Thus we were able to improve our financial results, enhance our environmental and social performance and strengthen our sustainability organisation."