Brands across the board are finally beginning to contend with the negative environmental and social impacts inherent in their supply chains. For many, that means confronting longstanding practices and processes with forward-looking plans for reinvention.
This week, formerly bankrupt J.Crew announced the launch of a new corporate social responsibility initiative dubbed Re-imagined by J.Crew, which the company said was crafted in support of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development goals. Focused on facilitating responsible business practices, sustainable product innovations and healthy industry partnerships, the effort is “intended to be a force for change in the retail landscape,” it said.
“We know there are many areas of sustainability that are in our power to impact positively, including tackling issues deeper in our supply chain and supporting the industry’s transition to circularity,” CEO Libby Wadle said in a statement. “By activating our employees, partnering with our stakeholders and listening to our customers, we are developing strategies to address the issues that will have the biggest impact on our products, supply chain and the apparel industry.”
J.Crew is evolving, Wadle added, and its commitment to supporting factory workers, reducing its ecological footprint and facilitating charitable opportunities for employees will remain a “key priority” in the brand’s next act.
The brand has started by reexamining its material usage, building upon its announcement earlier this year that all cashmere sweaters and accessories from the spring 2021 collection would be made using Good Cashmere Standard-certified (GCS) cashmere. The organization aims to improve the lives of cashmere goats and the farming communities that raise them.
Now, the company has committed to replacing 100 percent of its key fibers with sustainably sourced versions by 2025, including all cotton. The brand will champion fibers like machine-washable wool, silk produced with Bluesign-approved dyes, Econyl, a 100-percent regenerated nylon yarn made from pre and post-consumer waste, cellulosic fibers from Lenzing like Ecovero, Tencel Lyocell, Refibra and modal, recycled polyester, organic cotton, and recycled PET-based Repreve, among others.
By the same deadline, J.Crew has promised that more than 90 percent of its cashmere and chino collections will be produced in Fair Trade Certified factories, and 100 percent of plastic and paper used in its packaging will be sustainably sourced. The brand has also pledged to remove all virgin plastic from its packaging by 2030, and render its operations fully carbon neutral by that date as well.
J.Crew has also formed partnerships with third-party groups in an effort to reduce its environmental impact, it said, including collaborators that will help it cut greenhouse gas emissions within its global supply chain. The company will announce its emission goals, set with the help of the Science Based Targets initiative, by the end of the year.
The company will also work with CanopyStyle initiative, which brings together fashion industry insiders in an effort to conserve ancient and endangered forests across the globe, to ensure that none of its rayon, viscose, modal or lyocell offerings are made with wood pulp generated from these at-risk tree populations. The non-profit estimated that more than 150 million trees are logged each year to produce cellulosic fabric formulations.
The brand’s website now features a microsite where J.Crew shoppers can examine the company’s commitments, including the charitable organizations supported by their purchases. J.Crew’s Garments for Good collection of graphic T-shirts and other items has generated more than $7 million in donations for charity partners, with 50 percent of proceeds from these items going to groups like One Warm Coat, which provides winter coats to those in need, DonorsChoose, which supports teachers and students, LGBTQ family and ally organization PFLAG, and girls education and mentorship group Girls, Inc.