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Sustainable Apparel Coalition Spins Off Development of Higg Index With a Focus on Tech

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) is spinning off development of its Higg Index suite of sustainability assessment tools to facilitate a faster and more efficient rollout across the global apparel, footwear and textile value chains.

The San Francisco-based public-benefit company, known as Higg Co. and led by former SAC CEO Jason Kibbey, will hone the technology behind the modules, which myriad brands, retailers, manufacturers and suppliers use to measure the social and environmental impacts of their products and businesses.

The SAC, which Patagonia and Walmart founded in 2009, will continue to focus on driving multi-stakeholder collaboration behind the scenes. The conglomerate’s 240 members, which include companies such as Adidas, C&A, H&M, Levi Strauss and Target, boast combined revenues exceeding $500 billion.

“The SAC’s vision of an industry that produces no unnecessary environmental harm and has a positive social impact remains as vital as when we started,” Amina Razvi, interim executive director of the SAC, said in a statement. “Spinning out the technology capability enables both organizations to focus on accelerating progress towards that vision.”

Besides hosting the Higg Index, Higg Co. says it will offer bespoke solutions for companies to make better, more strategic decisions through integrated data and analytics.

“With the spin out of Higg Co., we will provide the industry the trusted technology it needs to be able to implement the Higg Index at scale,” Kibbey said. “Our customers rely on strong technology to drive the social and environmental improvements that will reshape the apparel and footwear industry, and other industries in the future.”

Higg Co. is majority-owned by the SAC, with additional funding provided by Titan Grove and Buckhill Capital and Saiburg B.V, the venture founded by Sanjeev Bahl, who operates the sustainable and ethical denim manufacturer Saitex outside of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam.

“You can’t manage what you can’t measure, and the Higg Index provides the standardization and measurement the industry needs to drive lasting change,” said Henrik Jones, general partner at Buckhill Capital.

The SAC has sprouted outgrowths before. In October 2017, the organization created the Apparel Impact Institute, which identifies initiatives within the apparel, footwear and textile industries with the potential to achieve transformative social and environmental change. It’s currently working on improving mills, a segment of clothing production that it calls “one of the most environmentally impactful.”