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Business of Fashion reported depressing results

On June 15, the founder-editor-in-chief of the professional magazine Business of Fashion and his two colleagues held an online quick meeting about their newly published sustainability analysis (The BoF Sustainability Index 2022). Unfortunately, they had to report depressing data: the 30 largest players in the global fashion industry are still very far from the sustainability goals set for 2030.

The Business of Fashion published its Sustainability Index for the first time last year, when the data of the 15 largest fashion companies were scrutinized. An important development is that this time the immersion has been doubled: in the current research, we already get a picture of 30 fashion giants. However, it must be stated that they only worked with publicly available data (up to and including December 31, 2021), so it is worth looking at the results with a critical eye.

28 points out of 100: sweet little

Diana Lee, director of research and analysis at Business of Fashion, stated at the beginning of the online presentation that there is still plenty of room for improvement. They worked with a total of 9,000 data and examined the 30 companies mentioned on the basis of 200 questions to be decided (yes-no). The optimal goal to be achieved would have been 100 points (if all the criteria were fully met by each company), but the overall result was only 28 points.

– These 28 points portend great dangers. The sustainability goals set by the UN for 2030 will be very difficult to achieve if we move forward at this pace, Diana Lee pointed out. "That's the ugly truth," he added.

Slow pace, questionable vision

Big brands talk more and more about sustainability, but what are they actually doing to protect people and the planet? In essence, this question is dissected by the study, which divides sustainability issues into six key categories (scores out of 100 in parentheses): emissions (38), transparency (35), water and chemicals (26), raw materials (25), workers' rights (25), waste (19).

Diana Lee noted that two categories – emissions and transparency – stood out from the rest, but there is plenty of room for improvement in this area as well. As Imran Amed, the founder and editor-in-chief of BoF, put it: the results are depressing and depressing.

In the index published on May 31, these are the top 5 companies: Puma, Kering, Levi Strauss, H&M Group and Burberry. However, it was also said at the online event that the pace of their development is not satisfactory either. The well-known H&M Group, for example, improved by 5 points in one year, but by 2030 it would not be able to achieve the sustainability objectives set by the UN at this rate. And this is just one example out of 30.

Turn commitment into action!

Sarah Kent, BoF's chief sustainability correspondent, mentioned on June 15 that it is important for the industry to act now, not just talk. - Brands should really stand behind the goals and values ​​they advertise themselves! Openness and commitment are becoming more and more visible, but it is still a big question as to how well all this translates into actions.

– Many changes are needed, which do not happen overnight. One of the main pillars of this is regulation, the modification of the legislative environment, which now looks like it is on the right track. In addition, serious investments, collaborations and the development of new technologies must be arranged, which will only pay off in the long term.

Will they produce less?

Towards the end of the conversation, Imran Amed asked one of the most difficult and tricky questions: is it even possible for these companies to achieve their profit goals without supporting an over-consuming society?

According to Sarah Kent, this is a philosophical question for the time being, as there are already good efforts, but it is very difficult to separate financial growth and environmental effects. They agreed that the secret would be to produce fewer, but higher quality pieces, extending the life cycle of the products.

A little more about the six cardinal categories:


The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries. It is estimated that 2-10% of global greenhouse gas emissions are emitted by the fashion industry. A radical reduction of emissions is necessary.


Incomplete data is available on the supply chain and subcontractors of fashion companies. Progress towards sustainability goals and accountability can only be made if suppliers are fully mapped, also in terms of environmental and social problems.

Water and chemicals

The textile industry consumes a lot of water, and thousands of chemicals are needed to make clothes. Textile production - annually, globally - uses 93 billion cubic meters of fresh water, which would be enough to fill 37 million Olympic-sized swimming pools!

Raw materials

In the recent period, the demand for alternatives to traditional raw materials, for less harmful fibers and fabrics, has increased. Fashion brands should design their supply chain in such a way as to protect the health of farmland, biodiversity and the interests and well-being of farmers. In addition, the area of ​​recycling, where textiles are turned into textiles of similar quality, must be developed.

Employee rights

In the BoF Sustainability Index, this was one of the worst-performing and most difficult-to-transparent categories. Inequality and injustice permeate the lives of many people working in the fashion industry. Despite the fact that the crisis caused by the coronavirus epidemic brought to the surface the topic of systemic inequality and social injustice built into the industry many times, unfortunately little has changed since then.


Fashion is fueled by polluting overconsumption. Every second, a garbage car's worth of clothes are incinerated or sent to landfill. Although the keyword 'circulation' appeared in the context of fashion a few years ago (and more than one entrepreneur started thinking about repair, rental and resale), traditional brands should still change the volume and the end of life of the products.

Opening image source: Business of Fashion

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