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Guess Announces New Denim Sustainability Goals for 2021

Heritage denim brand Guess released its third annual sustainability report Tuesday, sparking discussions about denim’s environmental impact at a Los Angeles event centered around its new Guess Eco line.

The brand’s director of corporate sustainability, Jaclyn Allen, told attendees, “Guess has been around for many generations, and when it comes to sustainability, change doesn’t happen overnight.”

She went on to detail the brand’s latest commitment to produce 25 percent of its denim in accordance with its own Guess Eco guideline by 2021—essentially mandating that each piece be made with an environmental component as well as a sustainable wash process at the mill level. The brand also aims to have 20 percent of its overall materials portfolio certified sustainable within the same time frame.

The program’s rollout began with this year’s spring collection, Allen said, and 10 percent of the brand’s fall line has been produced within accordance of the Guess Eco guidelines.

Lenzing’s director of global business development for denim, Tricia Carey, joined Allen in speaking to the new line’s incorporation of Tencel Lyocell material, derived from wood pulp, as well as the company’s Refibra technology, which upcycles cutting room scraps and other cotton waste and re-spins it into usable yarns. Guess Eco’s Autumn-Winter 2019 collection features garments made from Tencel Lyocell and select styles made with Refibra.

Guess has also signed on to the Global Fashion Agenda’s circular commitment for 2020. As a part of that agenda, Guess launched its ReSourced program in all U.S. stores. Aided by global recycling solutions provider I:CO, ReSourced will collect used clothing and denim for reuse or recycling, and offer consumers a 15 percent discount when they bring in at least five garments to donate. The program is due to roll out globally in the coming months.

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Guess’ biggest push thus far, Allen said, has been in educating its own corporate staff and store associates about production processes and the brand’s impact on the environment.

“Educating our internal teams about what goes into making the product, beyond the fashion, has been the first major step for us over the past couple of years,” she said.

All of the brand’s U.S. store associates and management teams have undergone training programs related to sustainability, and the brand’s product teams have engaged in training related to designing for circularity.

Guess has engaged a number of third-party auditing bodies for guidance and oversight, including the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), which reviews the company’s sustainability reporting, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (creators of the Higg Index, which measures and scores sustainability performance), and recently, the United Nations Fashion Charter for Climate Action, which has set the goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

“We’re here today to talk about our Guess Eco collection—but it’s not just a special collection or a moment in time,” Allen said. “It’s part of a larger movement that’s really happening within the company.”