Is Kering's Fashion Pact Making Headway?

As scrutiny over the fashion industry’s wasteful practices intensifies and eco-anxiety grows, the Fashion Pact forged by Kering’s François-Henri Pinault is gaining steam.

On October 24th, the 32-member union welcomed 24 new signatories. With 56 co-operations involving more than 250 brands, the initiative by Pinault is a challenge accepted by French President, Emmanuel Macron. Set in motion in April 2019 at the G7 Summit, Kering defines The Fashion Pact as “a global coalition of companies in the fashion and textile industry (ready-to-wear, sport, lifestyle, and luxury) along with suppliers and distributors, all committed to a common core of key environmental goals in three areas: stopping global warming, restoring biodiversity, and protecting the oceans.”

This includes a conglomerate of ready-to-wear, sport, lifestyle, and luxury brands such as Burberry, Chanel, H&M, and Stella McCartney, as part of the first 32 to step forward. While new names like Spanish fast-fashion brand Mango, along with the Calzedonia Group from Italy, joined in last week, as part of the 24 new members who recently banded with the Fashion Pact coalition. In addition, Kering further announced its commitment to carbon-neutrality in September 2019, within its own operations and across the entire supply chain, as well as its willingness to reduce all the GHG emissions related to its own operations and supply chain by 50% before 2025 (from a 2015 baseline).

However, in spite of Kering's and The Fashion Pact's good intentions, recent statistics are still alarming: in its report named “A New Textile Economy,” McKenzie & Company show that the unrelenting demand of novelty in fast-fashion has led to production of clothing being doubled from 2000-2015, and the average number of times a garment is worn before it stops being used has decreased by 36%. An estimated 300,000 tonnes of clothing was sent to landfill sites in 2018. The fast-fashion consumption model is speedily becoming synonymous with single-use plastic, with recycling no longer being a safety-clause since circular economies first need to be chemically safe, then circular. This begs the question of inclusivity for brands like Mango and H&M in The Fashion Pact and how fast fashion can possibly become environmentally friendly without profoundly rethinking its business model and production cycle.

That being said, it is possible that the introduction of these brands in The Fashion Pact is not simply an attempt to buy back their conscience. Earlier this year, Greenpeace announced via Ecotextile News that it will be taking a step back from its watch-dog position in the Detox Campaign launched in 2011 – wherein 80 fashion companies like Adidas, Nike, H&M, and Mango committed to cutting hazardous chemicals from their clothing production by 2020 – due to reported significant progress from the brands involved. Here's to the belief that The Fashion Pact is not the industry’s latest clean-up act or a cover-up for all the scrutiny it’s facing. Whether the initiative can contribute in making impactful and transparent advancements to fashion's sustainability race remains to be seen.

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