When François-Henri Pinault, CEO of Kering, calls, everyone comes. At least that's what happened on the eve of the G7 summit in Biarritz last weekend. That's where the giants of the fashion industry gathered to sign the Fashion Pact.
The Fashion Pact was initiated by French President Emmanuel Macron. In April 2019, he commissioned Pinault to bring together the leading players in the fashion and textile sectors in the run-up to the G7 summit to set concrete targets for reducing the environmental impact of the textile industry and to formulate appropriate measures.
The Fashion Pact’s objectives draw on the Science-Based Targets (SBT) initiative, which focuses on action in three essential areas for safeguarding the planet:
• Stop global warming: by creating and deploying an action plan for achieving the objective of zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, in order to keep global warming below a 1.5°C pathway between now and 2100.
• Restore biodiversity: by achieving objectives that use Science-Based Targets to restore natural ecosystems and protect species.
• Protect the oceans: by reducing the fashion industry’s negative impact on the world’s oceans through practical initiatives, such as gradually removing the usage of single-use plastics.
So far, 32 of the world's leading fashion and textile companies, including Adidas, Bestseller, Burberry, Chanel, Gap Inc, Giorgio Armani, H&M Group, Inditex, Karl Lagerfeld, Kering, Nike, Nordstrom, Prada Group, Puma and Selfridges Group, have signed the Fashion Pact. A merger on this scale from sporting goods manufacturers to fast fashion suppliers and luxury houses is so far unique.
“As we work in shared supply chains across the world, Puma believes that it is essential to bring the industry together to achieve meaningful change and improve our environmental impact,” said Puma CEO Bjørn Gulden. “We strongly believe in this initiative and look forward to working together with our partners on the priorities we have set out in the Fashion Pact.”
Inditex Executive Chairman Pablo Isla said, “All of us here at Inditex are committed to sustainability, one of our firm's core strategic principles. The driving force behind this project is the conviction shared by all signatories about the shared responsibility to protect the world’s environment over the long term.”
Even though the debate on the subject of sustainability is taking place on the part of the industry and above all the global players in the textile industry, criticism is being voiced that the Fashion Pact is a nice guideline for the industry, but it is not legally binding and therefore not effective. Another point of criticism is the problem of the supply chain. This is where most of the fashion industry's ecological footprint lies. Suppliers who produce the raw materials, textiles that are chemically treated, goods that are shipped to the end markets, intermediate suppliers who place orders with local factories in China, India or Bangladesh–these processes make the supply chains untransparent and need to be monitored even more.
And finally, the question that keeps coming up again and again is, don't the (fast) fashion companies, with their ever faster changing collections, fuel customers' desire to consume even more? You don't have to be Einstein to conclude that less consumption would be better for the environment in all areas. But producing less or advising customers not to buy anything would be counterproductive. So much sustainability is too much of a good thing.