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Ralph Lauren’s ‘Comprehensive’ Circular Strategy Includes Cradle to Cradle Certification

Ralph Lauren is making the circular economy a key tenet of its “comprehensive” new sustainability strategy

The apparel brand revealed Tuesday that it has joined hands with sustainability consultancy McDonough Innovation to incorporate Cradle to Cradle certification, a stamp of approval given to products that satisfy rigorous requirements for carbon management, water stewardship, energy conservation, material health and social fairness.

“For decades, Ralph Lauren has set standards for innovation and been a visionary in American fashion,” William McDonough, chief executive of McDonough Innovation and co-author of “Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things,” said in a statement. “Through this new strategy, Ralph Lauren is setting another benchmark as they embrace their authentic ethos of timelessness and create products designed to be reimagined in perpetuity.”

Ralph Lauren has set an immediate-term goal to achieve Cradle to Cradle certification for five signature products—which it calls “icons” and includes some of the company’s bestselling polo shirts, chinos, denim and sweaters—by 2025. The company will then apply its circular-design learnings from these “certified icons” to other key product categories.

To facilitate the industry’s transition from a linear to circular product economy, Ralph Lauren will also continue to throw its financial support behind scalable technologies that will “elevate the quality” of recycled materials so they are comparable in look, feel and performance to their virgin counterparts.

Last year, the firm announced a minority investment in Natural Fiber Welding, a materials-science startup that recycles natural fibers such as cotton waste into high-performance textiles. As part of this commitment, Ralph Lauren will produce 100 percent recycled cotton products “of the high quality it’s known” for across its portfolio by 2025, it said.

The brand will similarly build upon its recent investment and launch of The Lauren Look, its subscription rental initiative for its Lauren Ralph Lauren subsidiary. Starting in 2022, Ralph Lauren will offer more circular experiences for its customers, including options for recycling castoffs, vintage-selling opportunities and a resale platform.

“The spirit of timelessness has been core to Ralph’s creative vision for more than 50 years, and our circularity approach reinforces our belief that Ralph Lauren products should not only endure the test of time, but have endless lifecycles,” said Patrice Louvet, president and CEO of Ralph Lauren.