The Institute will work with brands and manufacturers to select, fund, and scale projects that will improve their sustainability impact

The Institute will work with brands and manufacturers to select, fund, and scale projects that will improve their sustainability impact

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) and the Sustainable Trade Initiative (IDH) have joined forces with PVH Corp, Gap Inc and Target to scale projects aimed at dramatically improving the sustainability impact of the apparel and footwear industry.

In an effort to galvanize around collective action in the apparel and footwear sector, the Apparel Impact Institute (AII) is designed to work with brands and manufacturers to select, fund, and scale projects that will improve their sustainability impact.

It will identify promising projects that are working in limited geography, for example, or are targeting a narrow problem yet show potential for broader application. By applying the appropriate resources, the AII will help bring them to scale more quickly.

The AII's first project will focus on mill improvement, one of the most environmentally impactful segments of clothing production. The Institute has selected the Natural Resources Defense Council's Clean by Design programme, which reduces energy, water and chemical use to scale mill improvement across the industry and across geographies. Later this year, the AII will focus on how to support and expand mill improvement initiatives globally.  

Future projects will include closed-loop recycling and worker well-being, for example, and will expand to include additional brands and manufacturers in the apparel and footwear industry.

"Through the Higg Index, we've seen incredible industry collaboration when it comes to standardising sustainability measurements," says Jason Kibbey, CEO of the SAC. "It's critical that we also take collective action to put that data to work. The Apparel Impact Institute allows us to act jointly on scaling practices that have a positive impact on people, planet, and the whole industry, while simultaneously helping brands and manufacturers improve their Higg Index scores."

The AII has formed using seed funding from IDH and Target, with additional financial support from PVH Corp, Gap Inc, and HSBC Holdings. The SAC is providing industry support and access to Higg Index data. The parties have also engaged management consultancy Schaffer&Combs for project management support of the Institute's early stage activities.

"At Target, we know that our decisions have the potential to impact millions of people around the globe, from the people who create our products to the families they support and the communities where they live, and we're committed to leveraging Target's scale for good," says Ivanka Mamic, senior director of responsible sourcing, Target. "Industry collaboration is vital to driving change and ensuring a sustainable apparel industry. We support the Apparel Impact Institute's analytical approach to collaboration and think it will provide a solid foundation for tracking progress and measuring outcomes, which will help propel the apparel industry forward."

Ted van der Put, executive representative for IDH, concurs – that collaboration is key in order to have an impact at scale.

 "By working as a sector initiative with a wide representation of leaders in the apparel sector, and by aligning with existing initiatives, we can accelerate implementation, and avoid fragmentation and duplication of similar initiatives. This will scale the impact on Sustainable Development Goals related to environment and social conditions."