Luxury brands coy on viscose supply chains

Staff writer | 26th July 2018

LONDON – Luxury brands including Gucci, Prada and Chanel as well as online brands Boohoo and Missguided have been slammed for a “complete lack of engagement” on the environmental challenges of viscose production in supply chains. New research from the Changing Markets Foundation claims that despite leadership from some brands – including Inditex, ASOS and M&S – a large part of the industry has “still not signed up to cleaner [viscose] production.”

Viscose is the third most commonly used textile fibre in the world and is growing in popularity due to its potential environmental advantages. After being cited by last year’s damning Changing Markets report on viscose pollution in supply chains, viscose producers, Austrian-based Lenzing, and Indian business, Birla Cellulose have both committed to making all their sites meet the stringent EU Ecolabel requirements for viscose production by 2022.

Since last year’s report, seven retail brands have committed to cleaning up their viscose supply chain. Inditex, ASOS, Marks & Spencer, H&M, Tesco, Esprit and C&A have all signed up to Changing Markets’ Roadmap towards responsible viscose and modal fibre manufacturing. Next is also set to sign up in the coming weeks.

A note from Changing Markets said: “However, brands from both ends of the fashion industry have failed to respond to letters sent by a group of environmental and consumer NGOs and there is scant detail about their environmental policies online. While other leading retailers, such as Arcadia Group (owner of Topshop, Burton and Dorothy Perkins), have engaged with the campaign, they still do not have any policies relating to viscose, nor provide any transparency about their supply chain.”

A spokesperson from Tesco said: “We understand the complexity of this environmental challenge and recognise that it is not possible for us to tackle it alone. We need to collaborate with our peers, suppliers, NGOs and governments to help transform the textile and clothing industry. Working together, we can make a big difference.”

Natasha Hurley, campaign manager at Changing Markets Foundation, said: “After many years of complacency from fashion brands and producers with regard to the environmental impacts of viscose manufacturing, the tide is finally beginning to turn towards more responsible production methods. But the unlikely bedfellows of luxury brands and discount retailers continue to ignore an issue that is blighting people’s lives and the environment.

“What’s more, most luxury fashion brands are failing to publicly disclose supply chain information. This is unacceptable. It’s time for them to wake up to consumers’ desire for more transparency and more sustainable fashion.”

Subscribe today

A 12-month subscription includes 6 printed magazines per year and allows you to access all of our content for only £200. Alternatively you can become a free member and access limited content.

Find out more