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Bestseller launches new sustainability strategy

By Danielle Wightman-Stone

10 Dec 2018

Business

Danish fashion group Bestseller, which includes Vero Moda, Jack and Jones, Only and Noisy May, has unveiled what it is calling an “ambitious” new strategy that will make sustainability “central to its way of doing business”.

The ‘Fashion Fwd’ strategy is part of Bestseller’s plan to “transform the fashion industry for a sustainable reality” and places an emphasis on the immediate need for inclusive and holistic action on sustainability across the value chain, working with innovative new fibres, improving its environmental footprint, and addressing human rights in the fashion industry.

“Our strengths as a business are our agility and responsiveness to trends. We will apply these strengths to respond to the changing demands of our planet and society, and to speed up our transition to a more sustainable reality,’ explained Bestseller chief executive and owner Anders Holch Povlsen in a statement. “By preserving our climate, using resources efficiently and promoting human rights, business can be a positive force for change. We want to play a significant role in overcoming the biggest sustainability challenges and we see sustainability as a prerequisite for ongoing business success. Building on some good progress to date, we are now speeding up our efforts.”

Bestseller’s new strategy will set “measurable goals” for 2019 to 2025 in the aim of launching the fashion group into becoming “climate positive, fair for all and circular by design,” and to become “as sustainable as possible, as soon as possible”. With this in mind it adds that it will “accelerate” its targets year-on-year and will not stop until it has achieved its ultimate goal.

Bestseller’s head of corporate affairs, Dorthe Scherling Nielsen explains and elaborates: “Climate positive means that we will remove more emissions than we emit. Fair for all means that we will promote equality, dignity and safe working conditions for all, and circular by design means that we will turn waste into a valuable resource throughout our value chain.”

Bestseller’s ’Fashion Fwd’ sustainability strategy aims to become “climate positive, fair for all and circular by design”

There are four focus areas of the strategy: Creating Fwd, Making Fwd, Engaging Fwd and Delivering Fwd.

Creating Fwd is about working with innovative new fibres until everything that Bestseller creates is made exclusively using sustainable materials. Key targets by 2022 includes using 100 percent man-made cellulosic fibres that have been sources responsible and sourcing 100 percent of its cotton from more sustainable alternatives. Longer-term goals by 2025 includes sourcing 30 percent of its sustainable cotton supply from organic cotton, as well as sourcing 100 percent of its wool responsibly.

Making Fwd aims to improve the environmental footprint of Bestseller’s products, supply chain and operations so they have a positive impact on the environment by “producing leaner”. Targets include setting itself a science-based goal on greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, making sure its buildings are 100 percent operated by renewable energy by 2021, and by 2025, ensuring that it has 100 percent approved and traceable chemistry in its core products.

Engaging Fwd is Bestseller’s approach to embed human rights in the fashion industry, with a particular focus on the supply chain, and providing all employees with a “platform” to unleash their potential. Targets for its supply chain by 2025 includes implementing mechanisms to promote fair living wages, supporting women to achieve workplace empowerment and improved life-skills, and ensuring that all suppliers have invested in fire, electrical and building safety improvements.

The final area is the intention of Delivering Fwd, about creating a future circular model for fashion, where products and materials are ongoing resources. Key initiatives are offering garment collection channels by 2020, publishing key material suppliers by 2021, and providing customers with information on the environmental impact of its core products with year-on-year improvements by 2023. Other long-term targets by 2025 includes driving forward post-consumer waste, testing and implementing circular business models, and ensuring that all consumer facing packaging is 100 percent reusable, recyclable or compostable.

Scherling Nielsen added: “This is a significant moment for our company as we place sustainability at the core of our business. At the same time, we are fully aware of the magnitude of the challenge ahead. Without industry collaboration and the support of our business partners, we will not get there.”

Bestseller launches investment strategy to target sustainability

In addition, Bestseller states that there is a fifth area, Invest Fwd, which will assist the group’s innovation for sustainability. Bestseller has selected three inaugural initiatives including partnering with Fashion for Good, where it will work with major fashion companies to identify and cultivate the next generation of sustainable solutions.

The second initiative is joining forces with Pond, a company that is working on a renewable bio-based alternative to polyester. Bestseller states that “increasing the quality and availability of more sustainable fibres is one of the most substantial ways it can help change fashion’s environmental impact”.

The final goal the Danish brand company has set is to be powered by 100 percent renewable energy by 2021 in its owned and operated buildings globally, which it added will include a more detailed plan in 2019.

Commenting on the investment platform, Scherling Nielsen said: “The objective of our new investment platform is to accelerate sustainable innovation and solutions throughout the whole life cycle of fashion. For example, we will invest in low-impact materials, new supply chain technologies and new business models.

“We know that we will only achieve our strategy through innovation, cooperation and by putting significant resources behind our efforts.”

Other concepts and products Bestseller is looking to invest in are: low impact and circular materials, such as turning waste into sustainable fibres; New supply chain technologies, such as waterless dying, 3D printing and blockchain; New business models like second-hand retailing; Partnerships for women’s empowerment that will help the group promote further life-skills its workers in the supply chain; and renewable energy, conservation and natural carbon sinks, such as organic cotton farming.

In an open letter on the brand’s website, Anders added: “Our consumers and society at large expect more from the fashion world. Our Fashion Fwd strategy outlines how sustainability can be incorporated throughout our business. By continuously optimising our value chain on social and environmental issues, setting science-based targets on greenhouse gas emissions so we operate within the limits of our planet, and by investing in new innovations across the life cycle of fashion, we can significantly improve our business and our industry.”

Images: courtesy of Bestseller