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CFDA’s New Materials Hub Tackles Fashion’s Uphill Sustainability Battle

The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), in partnership with Ugg, will release the Materials Hub on in October to aid the fashion industry in discovering and connecting with key innovators, vendors and resources across fashion’s material sourcing community.

“The launch of the Materials Hub comes at a critical crossroads as climate change continues to impact our industry and planet,” CFDA CEO Steven Kolb told Sourcing Journal. “The ever-increasing investment in advanced and responsible products, practices and services related to sourcing and innovative materials means that there are a high number of resources already out in the market and the Materials Hub aggregates them to highlight the leaders in the sector.”

The new open-access Materials Hub extends the CFDA’s long-time commitment to design-centered sustainability initiatives. These include the Sustainability Resource Hub, home of the Guide to Sustainable Strategies and Toolkit, as well as the Sustainability By Design: Rethinking NYFW Impact Report created in partnership with Boston Consulting Group and in collaboration with the United Nations Office of Partnerships and Conscious Fashion that included a “Playbook for Positive Change” outlining actionable brand steps for reducing environmental impact.

“The Sustainability Resource Hub covers all areas of the supply chain, including fiber knowledge through the existing Materials Index, and the Materials Hub narrows the focus in to one area and provides comprehensive resources in that area,” Kolb said.

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He noted the synergy of collaborating with Ugg to introduce the Materials Hub, since CFDA and the lifestyle brand have “shared commitments to people and planet and advancing the industry in more responsible ways to support both.”

“Sourcing and material resources have quickly become one of the most requested areas across the supply chain from our vast designer network as they explore and integrate more responsible practices into their businesses,” Kolb added. “We created the Hub to help those requests and provide a greater open-access platform in the process. We also have been presented with many opportunities to converse with the material innovators themselves over the past few years, creating a strong network of experts for the CFDA to connect with designers through resources like the Materials Hub.”

The CFDA said many brands, including Ugg, which introduced its Feel Good sustainability platform in 2020 and Plant Power Collection using carbon-neutral, plant-based materials to address the issue of carbon emissions earlier this year, are integrating innovative materials across its supply chains. This demand, combined with a growing investment in technology from raw material providers, has created a sizable network of businesses looking to scale these innovations and help advance sustainability across the fashion industry.

Launched in October 2020, Feel Good is the Ugg brand’s platform articulating long-term goals and commitment to people and planet. In addition to tracking the brand’s effort to minimize its impact on the planet, it also articulates its core social values, including diversity, gender equality, female empowerment, and inclusion for all.

“We are all responsible for protecting our planet for future generations, and as an industry, we must minimize our impact,” Andrea O’Donnell, president of UGG and Koolaburra by Ugg at Deckers Brands, said. “Since 2016, Ugg has been working toward significant sustainability goals that are reflective of our values and commitment to people and planet. We want to share this hard-earned information, innovations and solutions with our industry colleagues, which is why I am thrilled to partner with the CFDA on the Materials Hub, an incredible resource that supports industry-wide progress.”

The CFDA and the Ugg brand’s mission with the Materials Hub is to focus the resource on one critical step of the supply chain–material sourcing–and aggregate resources that can highlight leaders across the sector, promote collaboration between designer and innovator, help designers blueprint ways to strengthen their impact within materials and continue to provide educational and professional development opportunities for all.

Throughout the month of October, the CFDA and Ugg will also host a series of public webinars dedicated to material innovation, including an introductory walk-through of the Materials Hub site, a fireside chat with O’Donnell, outlining how Ugg is progressing sustainability, as well as moderated discussions on packaging and fiber and fabric innovation.

Among the Materials Hub components are an Innovation Index featuring top-tier technologies in fiber and fabric, and topline information on key suppliers in the space. The Index will also provide further insights into the sustainable considerations and properties that differentiate each innovation from traditional raw materials, while also including information on market availability and material origin.

A vendor directory will provide a curated list of businesses with which designers can directly connect across areas such as online marketplaces, certifications and standards, end of life and recycling, packaging, shipping and logistics, trade shows, material processing, associated nonprofit organizations and trade groups. Vendors will be included that represent all product categories, including ready-to-wear, accessories and jewelry.

The Materials Hub Resource Center will feature related key documents, white papers, case studies, tool kits, guides, and checklists to provide up-to-date information that can help designers navigate their overarching sourcing strategies for traditional and innovative materials.

The CFDA is a not-for-profit trade association founded in 1962 with a membership of 439 of America’s foremost women’s wear, men’s wear, jewelry and accessory designers. The organization provides its members with timely and relevant thought-leadership and business development support. Emerging designers and students are supported through professional development programming and numerous grant and scholarship opportunities. In addition to hosting the annual CFDA Fashion Awards, the organization owns the Fashion Calendar, is the organizer of the American Collections Calendar, and recently launched RUNWAY360.