Pulse Score by Higg Index.
With these three previous articles –I recommend you to read them-: Responsible and sustainable fashion | Sustainable textile industry | The pulse of the fashion industry | I wanted to conclude the analysis of the report The Pulse of the Fashion Industry by Boston Consulting Group; but when I read it again, I found this last part of the study so interesting that I cannot stop sharing it with all of you.
It begins by stating that not all brands in the fashion industry are equally responsible for the current situation in the industry; and not all of them are organized equally to take advantage of the value opportunities that are in sight.
BCG and GFA developed the Pulse Score to assess the fashion industry’s environmental and social performance across all fashion brands and at different stages of their value chain. The Pulse Survey was developed to confirm and improve the findings. The Pulse Score combines the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Higg quantitative index with input from top industry executives to bring the results to the entire sector. The overall score obtained by fashion is 32 out of 100, which means there is ample room for improvement.
The performance differential is very considerable. Despite conventional wisdom, sustainability is not a luxury that only high-priced brands can afford. The size of the organization, much more than its price positioning, correlates with a higher Pulse score.
Fast Fashion and sustainability.
Fast Fashion is not necessarily a threat to the environment and society: the main global distributors and the most famous brands, with low prices, get solid scores. The same goes for some of the so-called “sustainability champions”, with value propositions focused on this issue. Small and medium fashion brands, by contrast, which together account for more than half of the industry, get a low score. These constitute a huge blind space and a real opportunity: half the industry has done little so far to address these problems and is not on track to do anything more.
Depending on their geographical location, European brands score higher on environmental aspects, while their US counterparts tend to engage in better social practices. Because of the type of ownership, family companies have a better return on these issues, while most -though not all- of the public companies tend to maximize shareholder value in the short term.
As for the parts of the value chain, we find that it is at the beginning and the end that there is the greatest opportunity for improvement. Design gets 22 points and raw materials only 17, while consumer use scored 23 and the end-of-use stage dropped to 9 points. These areas usually receive little interest from the media, customers and even industry players, such as designers themselves.
The middle stages, where scores are higher on average, show large gaps between market leaders and other brands. The gap between the upper and lower quartiles is 45 points or more for production and transport.
With regard to impact areas, external pressures also drive success. Brands have relatively good health and safety performance, which is usually covered by the media and regulatory bodies. Chemicals are a relatively positive aspect, with a Pulse score of 37, due to restrictive regulations, while water and waste management, which receives little coverage, only gets 20 points. In areas where there is currently innovation and technology to address the problem, there are important differences: the gap between the upper and lower quartiles is 58 points in energy, while it is only 12 points in waste. These substantial differences demonstrate that enormous improvement is possible using new technologies and up-to-date practices and processes.
The objective must be coordinated and shared
To bring the entire textile industry up to the level of best practices visible today, a number of immediate actions need to be taken. However, even if the industry as a whole were to catch up with best practices leaders, it would not be enough. According to optimistic and ambitious assumptions, less than half of the €160 billion could be captured. Actions are needed that go far beyond what individual brands can achieve to collectively take the industry to another level of improvement of their impact. The key challenge to achieving this goal is not individual commitment and action, but leadership, cooperation, consolidation of resources and innovation. Many of these ideas will come true only with widespread adoption. It is not enough for some leading companies or sustainability pioneers to show validation of the concept. A shared commitment and coordinated involvement of the fashion industry as a whole, without divisions, is necessary.