Ralph Lauren is leaning into the circular economy.
At the Global Fashion Summit in Copenhagen Tuesday, the apparel brand unveiled its first Cradle to Cradle certified product, a Purple-label luxury cashmere sweater that adheres to rigorous requirements for carbon management, water stewardship, energy conservation, material health and social fairness.
Developed in collaboration with William McDonough, chief executive of McDonough Innovation and co-author of “Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things,” the first-of-its-kind garment is the first of five signature “icons” that Ralph Lauren has pledged to make by 2025. Every component will be certified, from the cashmere thread down to the organic-cotton hang label. A cashmere recycling program, the brand said, will allow consumers to “recirculate” their sweaters “for their next use.”
The sweater, which will be available later this year, is part of Ralph Lauren’s new Live On promise to enable its past and future products to “live on responsibly” by 2030, it said. The commitment builds on the brand’s existing circularity strategy, which includes offering products made with 100 percent recycled cotton through a partnership with Natural Fiber Welding, a biomaterials firm in which it has a minority stake. The firm will also be investing in regenerative practices through investments in organizations such as the U.S. Regenerative Cotton Fund, as well as piloting repair and resale services in select cities. Last year, it launched The Lauren Look, an online rental subscription service.
The company, which is scaling up the fashion industry’s first zero-wastewater cotton dyeing system with Dow, said it hews to the philosophy of creating enduring products that are meant to be worn for generations. Its Timeless by Design global citizenship and sustainability strategy, which the Live On promise falls under, seeks to create with intent, protect the environment and champion better lives, it added.
“Fifty-three years ago, when Ralph founded the company, he made the connection that everything he created, everything he designed, should be timeless. We incorporated circularity into our definition of timelessness,” Ralph Lauren chief product officer Halide Alagöz said during a panel. “Circularity is very much a part of who we are.”