The apparel sector comprises roughly 2 percent of annual global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, according to the World Resources Institute. Innerwear darling Adore Me wants to lower that number.
The B Corp recently acquired by Victoria’s Secret, has partnered with Carbonfact, a startup that helps fashion brands lower their environmental impact via a data platform that helps designers incorporate carbon impact into the design process from the start. The partnership will enable Adore Me to conduct a life cycle assessment (LCA) throughout its design process, ideally paving the way toward at-scale eco-design to make low-impact lingerie more accessible and affordable.
“A traditional LCA has a start and finish. This is completely revolutionary [and] different,” Ranjan Roy, Adore Me’s vice president of strategy, said. “It’s the idea that a start and an endpoint for a traditional LCA is the wrong approach and the idea that an LCA is an ongoing thing.”
This partnership makes Adore Me the first lingerie brand to dynamically measure its entire product catalog’s carbon impact in real time. The company’s designers can model materials at the product level and account for each step of the product life cycle, from raw material extraction to material processing, manufacturing, distribution and use. This heightened visibility into the life cycle brings Adore Me a step closer to its goal of reducing its Scope 3 carbon footprint by 20 percent in 2025 and achieving net-zero status by 2050.
“Historically, fashion brands could only work with consultants to conduct LCAs, but the process oftentimes proved to be static and not holistic,” said Marc Laurent, cofounder and CEO of Carbonfact. “As a team, we compiled our expertise in fashion LCA, engineering and data science to turn the apparel and footwear LCA methodology into software, allowing companies to model out product-level changes on their environmental trajectory by offering them a high-resolution view of their Scope 3 emissions. Adore Me’s vision and mission for democratizing more sustainable fashion aligns with our values, and we’re thrilled to partner with them on the journey.”
The DTC womenswear brand began the implementation process with Carbonfact in November 2022 and has since fully integrated the startup’s technology into its ecosystem. Carbonfact’s technology accompanies Adore Me’s set of internal tools that assess the sustainability of each design, from raw material components to manufacturing. These proprietary tools include the Adore Me Impact Matrix (AIM), which measures the environmental sustainability of a product based on its design and manufacturing attributes, providing a score based on four key impact areas: fiber, waste, water and chemicals. Through the Green Adore Me Manufacturing Evaluation (GAME), Adore Me scores its manufacturer’s social and environmental performance and collaborates to improve. The Material Assessment Tool (MAT) measures the environmental impact of Adore Me’s key product components.
“Tracking carbon footprint and decarbonizing products are two of the biggest hurdles fashion brands face, as conducting an accurate LCA for just one fashion style can take weeks or even months and cost upwards of $15,000,” Romain Liot, chief operating officer at Adore Me, said. “Historically, there’s also been limited data available on the carbon impact that various materials have and a lack of standardization for sustainability measurement and reporting. This presents a major roadblock for retailers who manage hundreds and thousands of products, making affordable and sustainable fashion a far-fetched goal for most. Carbonfact has made this goal attainable by democratizing the LCA process, and we’re proud to be one of their first major partners on the path to decarbonizing the fashion industry.”
Carbonfact helps retailers understand what drives most of their carbon footprint, what eco-design levers can be activated and how to reconcile their product-level CO2 emissions with their company-level objectives. Its team comprises LCA experts led by Dr. Bahareh Zamani, who co-authored the first draft of the Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules (PEFCR) for apparel and footwear in Europe.
But Adore Me probably isn’t going to let customers in on the fact it’s making carbon emission reductions.
“There has been a healthy internal debate around what’s communicated to the customer,” Roy said. “When you try to communicate carbon footprint at an individual product level to a customer, it’s impossible to actually have a genuine understanding or decision-making ability based on whatever information is provided. I think, for us, seeing how other brands potentially try to use that [information] purely for marketing purposes, I think actually distracts from the bigger topic of like, how you get people aware and talking about this in an informed way.”