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11 fashion retailers working towards sustainability

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Climate, biodiversity and oceans. One might wonder what they have to do with retail, and the answer is: a lot! The Retail Industry worldwide, and especially the fashion retail sector produces enormous amounts of waste, while using an immense amount of resources. Like all manufacturing sectors, producing retail products too has a severe impact on the environment.

Faced with the alarming prospect that the Earth will begin to run out of natural resources that are imperative for mankind to survive, retail leaders – convinced that the industry has the potential for intervention to integrate sustainable practices – are working towards switching to eco-friendly practices. They are working towards taking ecologically responsible decisions which can help protect the environment and sustain natural resources for current and future generations.

For many retailers, the focus has shifted to introducing sustainable products and sustainable ways of producing products. Recently, 16 retail fashion brands signed the Su.Re (sustainability resolution) project launched by the Textile Ministry, IMG Reliance and Clothing Manufacturers Association Of India (CMAI). Brands like Spykar, Westside, Trends, Shoppers Stop, fb b, House of Anita Dogre and Lifestyle and Max have recently joined themovement that aims to develop sustainable sourcing policy for consistent prioritising and utilising certified raw materials that have a positive impact on the environment.

However, understanding the subject of sustainability and its impact is still emerging in India because the country is still experimenting and learning, not only in fashion retail, but in almost all industries as on date.

In this article, IMAGES Retail explores how brands are going sustainable and how they are putting are their best forward to make sustainable fashion cost-effective. To know more about the sustainable measures that fashion retailers are taking, visit 20th India Fashion Forum.


One of the pillars of H&M’s sustainability strategy is to become 100 percent circular and renewable. This includes, among other things, a circular approach to how products are made and used and the goal to only use recycled or other sustainably sourced materials and renewable energy in all the direct operations.

Cotton is the material that the brand uses the most to make their products. The aim is for all cotton in the range to come solely from sustainable sources by 2020. Hence, the cotton goal is a key player in the global ambition of becoming 100 percent circular and the goal to only use recycled and other sustainably sourced materials by 2030, thanks to their further investment in organic, recycled and Better Cotton (see below definition for Better Cotton).

For the H&M group being 100 percent circular and renewable means having a circular approach to how fashion is made and used, including the goal to only use recycled or other sustainably sourced materials by 2030. In this way, products will never be seen as waste at the end of their lifetime, they will be treated as a valuable resource instead by reusing and recycling them over again.

The new sustainable materials that were used for the Conscious Exclusive 2019 collection were-
– Orange fibre is made from citrus juice by-products, repurposing them to create silk-like cellulose fabric.
– Piñatex® is a natural leather alternative made from cellulose fibres extracted from pineapple leaves, the waste of the pineapple harvest
– BLOOMFoamis a plant-based flexible foam using algae from freshwater sources at high risk of algal bloom


Every season, Lee Cooper aims to get better and outdo itself. In the bid to be a responsible, environment friendly brand with a legacy of over 110 years, it has adopted the following innovations: e-Flow Washing Technology: Uses considerably lesser amount of water and energy whilst replacing harmful chemicals with alternative formulas.
– G2 Cube Technology: Allows the brand to eliminate the usage of toxic processes like bleaching and paramagnet altogether.
– Laser Technology: Recreating the traditional denim look by using laser, in turn reducing the energy consumption.
– Indigo Dyeing: Replaced Indigo powder by patent pended Liquid Indigo from DyStar to save gallons of water.


Pepe Jeans believes that the future of denims is sustainable. The brand has been working on addressing its environmental impact for the last few years on a global level. Keeping in mind the need for sustainable clothing, Pepe Jeans introduced a range of environmentally conscious denims including True-Fresh and Tru-Blu in 2018.

The True-Fresh range of denim uses a revolutionary technology that neutralizes odour causing bacteria on contact, in turn keeping denims fresh for longer. Denims treated with this technology can be worn more often without washing. Even after days of continuous use, the denim retainsits freshness. Tru-Blu is a pioneering denim collection with zero chemical washes, resulting in radical reduction of water consumption. This sustainable production process includes natural ozone gas treatments and sophisticated new three-dimensional lasers to create astonishing depths of indigo contrasts on jeans.


For Arvind, sustainability goes beyond the usage of environment friendly products and processes. It is a lifestyle where all their day to day steps contribute to a sustainable society. Arvind considers environmental, social and economic sustainability major pillars of its business model and is fully focused on adhering to it in all their endeavours. The practices and processes are geared not only to optimize utiliation of the resources, but also nurture their roots and bring out the best of their innovation and design.

There is a lot that goes behind the scenesin making denims more sustainable and this is a way of life at Arvind. Fromfarming of crops to finished garments, the brand is innovating in all aspects to create more synergies and value drivers for consumer’s business and making their jeans as sustainable as possible.

Internationally, customers who lean towards sustainability work with the brand because Arvind is considered to be an innovator of sustainability. Sustainability has become way of doing business for Arvind and is not merely a unique selling proposition and the brand is happy to showcase their leadership in transforming the industry.


Woodland has recently introduced its latest range of bio-degradable shoes which strengthen its association with the environmental care. The launch of bio-degradable footwear was the brand’s CSR Project, Proplanet – a wing dedicated to making the mother Earth a better place to live. It is one of the most exciting environmental innovations to be witnessed by the footwear industry. Aside from this, Woodland is well known for its eco-friendly initiatives and for informing consumers about the importance of keeping Earth clean and green.

The brand also has apparels which are eco-friendly:
– Organic Cotton T- shirts: Free of toxins and pesticides, Woodland’s Proplanet t-shirts are made of 100 percent organic cotton. The brand is committed to minimising its ecological footprint throughout all phases of the production process and is working towards making the production lineeco-friendlier.
– Pure Green T-shirts: These pure green t-shirts are made from recycled PET (plastic) bottles. The plastic bottles are sterilised and processed into fibre strands. These strands are knitted together to create a fabric, which is used to produce 100 percent recycled T-shirts.


Given that sustainability is one of the key values of the brand, the way it designs and procures products to create SELECTED is what makes all the difference. Organic fibres with no hazardous chemicals are used, waste materials like leftover fabric or plastic bottles are processed into recycled fi bres and reborn as new textiles.


For Numero Uno, sustainability is not just about making a contained range and labelling it as conscious/sustainable. It is about inciting a real change at every stage of the product lifecycle possible, from manufacturing to washing and finishing, to delivery, to recycling and disposal.

Numero Uno has taken significant steps towards setting up an ethical and sustainable ecosystem from the beginning, adopting eco-friendly processes and technology with emphasis on low water consumption, restricted use of hazardous chemicals and good working conditions for its workforce.

Recently, the brand has collaborated with Gen-Next designer Anurag Gupta for LakméFashion Week to create ‘denim master pieces’ from garments in stock. The aim behind this collection was to reuse the stock of unused denim into new pieces with innovative designs. This collection was a step towards sustainable fashion as water is getting saved in the entire process. The collaboration used eco-friendly methods of production resulting in pieces that evoke a youthful and modern vibe.

There has been a conscious, gradual and consistent shift towards sustainable methods, adoption of effective technology like extensive use of laser machines instead of hand-scraping for benefit of workers’ health. The use of ‘E-Soft, Ozone/ G2, Cold-Eco Dyeing’ has helped in reducing water and hazardous chemical consumption.

Besides this, rainwater harvesting to replenish ground water, use of solar waterheaters and energy-efficient lights in the factory also help in reducing burden on natural resources.

The brand has also installed an ETP which cleans water and operates on zero liquid discharge technology such that all the water used in washing process is completely recycled making us a truly ecoconscious & responsible brand.

In 2017, NU collaborated with Jeanologia of Spain and created a sustainable collection of denim called ‘One Glass Water Denims’ wherein only one glass of water is consumed during the washing/ finishing process.


Liva, the fabric brand of the Aditya Birla Group, was launched in 2015. It is natural fl uid fabric which is made from the eucalyptus, aspen, birch, maple and fir trees. The launch of Livaeco by Liva is an initiative in this direction. Whilst Liva itself is a highly sustainable fabric, Livaeco is a Gen-2 version of Liva with better sustainability credentials. It uses raw materials from sustainable and certifi ed forests. It boasts of the lowest water consumption and low greenhouse gas emissions during the manufacturing process.

To build credibility, the brand has added a unique tracer in the fabric thus ensuring source credibility. Tracer is a method of identifying the journey of the fi nal garment and its origin from fibre stage. This is a globally accepted method and gives visibility of source.


B Label is driven by the potential that sustainable fashion holds for a greener future. As a brand, it strives to be sustainable at their core and to support this it works with one of the world’s most durable and eco-friendly natural fibres – Industrial Hemp.

Hemp is a carbon negative crop; it requires 400 times less water to grow than cotton does. Additionally, hemp is a fast growing crop, so the use of fertilizer and pesticides is minimal. Hemp as a fabric is much more breathable and long-lasting, making the life span of each garment much more than other fibres. Apart from producing clothes with this wonderous fibre, the brand has mindfully attempted to distribute their clothes in zero-plastic packaging.


Spykar is conscious of production techniques and its impact on the environment. With that in mind, the brand is collaborating with vendors and service providers who comply with nature conservation norms for producing apparels. Fashion denims that traditionally have been the villain in the environment conservation story are now the epitome of sustainable product, from the Spykar stable. 100 percent of Spykar’s fashion denim range – which is about 50 percent of the overall jeans production – is done at a super compliant plant at Tarapur that follows several measures of environmental preservation. This 50 percent follow the following environment-friendly processes and aiming to exponentially increase the share in the future:
– A new-agelaser treatment for intricate patterns eliminates chemical footprint.
– Ozone technology is used to harness the natural bleaching capabilities of O3 – leading to 50 percent reduction in water and chemical usage.
– Likewise, cloud technology uses mist formed by inducing high pressured air into the water creating nano-bubbles, thereby covering larger surface area in minimal water.
– Drying is done through infra-red rays to ensure fossil fuels are conserved.
– Pumice stones are discarded to maintain the ecological balance.
– A water recycling process ensures 90 percent water is recycled.
– From whopping 125 ltrs/jeans, the consumption has now reduced to 1 glass of water/jeans.
– Zero fossil fuel usage and relies on solar power for 30 percent of their energy requirement. Solar dependency to increase to 60 percent by 2021.
– Measures have also been taken by the government to ensure the land for the facility was not used for agriculture; an arid plot was hence assigned.


Wrangler®, a part of Kontoor Brands, Inc. has introduced the first denim apparel dyed with foam, an innovative technique that uses 100 percent less water than conventionally dyed denim. The global product launch of foam-dyed denim follows Wrangler’s promise to discover and implement throughout its supply chain the most sustainable ways for dyeing denim.

Indigood™ Foam-Dye entirely replaces the traditional water drums and chemical baths of traditional indigo dyeing, reducing by 100 percent the amount of water required to turn denim that belovedshade of indigo blue. The new dyeing process also reduces energy use and waste by more than 60 percent compared to the traditional denim dyeing process.

The Indigood™ products will be featured in the ICONS Collection, giving consumers access to Wrangler’s most iconic products with the highest level of sustainability available on the denim market today. In addition, with absolutely no compromise to quality, the Indigood™ products include recycled cotton, laser and ozone finishing.

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