The 15 largest publicly traded fashion companies are falling behind when it comes to meeting the social and environmental goals of the Paris climate agreement and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, according to a new report from Business of Fashion.
The Business of Fashion, an online publication about the fashion industry, analyzed in its report publicly disclosed information of the five largest companies by revenue in three categories: luxury, sportswear and high street fashion, including Kering, Adidas, H&M and others.
The fashion industry is under increasing pressure from consumers and governments to clean up. Statistics cited by the World Economic Forum show that industry is responsible for at least 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
The Business of Fashion report rated companies out of 100 on their progress towards meeting sixteen goals that would align their performance with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on emissions, waste, workers’ rights, water and materials.
It also ranked companies on transparency, or how much information about a company’s practices was currently available. Kering ranked first with 49 points and Under Armor ranked lowest with 9 points. The average score of the companies was 36 points.
The report found that companies were more likely to disclose information about goals than concrete actions to meet them.
“Opaque work practices and fuzzy definitions of what constitutes ‘good’ progress further complicate matters, creating a confusing picture of where the industry stands and what steps are required to fix it,” the report says.
Kering and Nike fared best in transparency, while PVH Corp, Levi Strauss and VF Corp fared best in their efforts to reduce emissions. Under Armor scored the lowest in all rankings, except for workers’ rights, where LVMH ranked lower.
Hermes, LVMH and Richemont scores averaged lower than those of fashion companies H&M, Inditex, Gap and Levi Strauss in all six categories: emissions, waste, workers’ rights, materials and transparency.
On average, in general, companies performed worse on waste and workers’ rights. Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing, Under Armor and Richemont reported the lowest average score on all six goals.
Kering’s head of sustainability, Marie-Claire Daveu, said the company was proud of the recognition given by Business of Fashion. When asked about the fact that the report highlighted that all companies were not meeting targets, he acknowledged that sustainability was a “long and never-ending journey.”
Adidas said it was working closely with its partners to achieve climate neutrality in its operations by 2025 and across its supply chains by 2050.
Other companies named did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A panel of twelve sustainability experts advised on the methodology of the Business of Fashion report.