Tapestry Inc., the New York-based parent company of Coach, Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman, announced a partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) on Thursday through a $3 million philanthropic grant from the Tapestry Foundation, which is committed to advancing equity and opportunity through social and environmental initiatives.
The grant will be used to develop an innovative system to enhance traceability of the leather value chain in Brazil. This partnership is the most recent initiative in Tapestry’s ongoing efforts to support a responsible supply chain that other industries can also adopt.
“Tapestry has worked closely with WWF for more than a decade,” David Wright, senior director of materials development and planning at Tapestry Inc., told Sourcing Journal. “WWF, in alignment with the WWF-US Markets Institute’s Sustainable Beef and Leather Supply Chains program, has been helping to address traceability issues in Brazil for years by creating collaboration opportunities with stakeholders in a pre-competitive space. This has allowed organizations, corporations, business partners and the chain of suppliers to adjust to the surge in market requirements addressing deforestation-risk of products connected to illegal deforestation in South America.”
Wright said WWF is currently the only global NGO involved in this specific leather traceability work, “making them the ideal partner for this philanthropic grant.”
He said the funds for the program will be allocated across three priority areas–the acceleration of the development of a standard to certify deforestation and conversion-free (DCF) leather originating from Brazil, reforestation efforts in the highest risk areas of the Amazon and Cerrado biomes and working with on-the-ground community partners to help address the immediate threats that deforestation and climate change pose to local, vulnerable populations.
Wright noted that under 20 percent of Tapestry’s leather is currently sourced from Brazil, with approximately 70 percent from the U.S. and Europe.
“As a global leader in luxury leather goods, we have and will continue to invest in leather traceability and build on the progress that’s already been made,” said Joanne Crevoiserat, CEO of Tapestry Inc., and chair of the Tapestry Foundation Board. “With this grant from the Tapestry Foundation, we reaffirm our commitment to addressing climate change through long-term sustainable solutions while also taking immediate action through reforestation initiatives. In addition, we are inviting other companies, both within and outside our industry, to partner with us in these efforts.”
Mauricio Bauer, WWF senior director of beef and leather supply chains, said the leather sector can and must establish a science-based, data-driven certification that goes beyond the processes currently in place.
“This program will work alongside government agencies and other market stakeholders to construct a system to enhance traceability and provide a clear chain of custody,” Bauer said. “The Tapestry Foundation’s critical investment will help the industry work together to gather needed research and in the creation of a standard that works for both the environment and for local communities.”
Wright said Tapestry has also partnered with WWF, National Wildlife Federation and the University of Wisconsin to pioneer mapping and traceability of the leather supply chain from farm of origin to finished leather,” Wright said. “As we started thinking about what more we could do, we quickly realized we had a shared vision. In tandem with our regenerative agriculture efforts, we can improve leather value chains at large and help to restore biodiversity in regions of the world most vulnerable to climate change.”
Tapestry and WWF will foster a coalition of organizations dedicated to these essential traceability efforts. In the coming months, the organizations plan to meet with leaders across industries to build a comprehensive network to address this complex challenge with the investment, expertise, breadth, and scale that is required.
“As the founding partner of this program, Tapestry is looking forward to growing the coalition of organizations dedicated to these essential traceability efforts,” Wright said. “We are inviting other organizations both within and outside our industry to collaborate with us in these efforts as today’s climate crisis is too big for any one organization or industry to solve.”
In the coming months, WWF and Tapestry plan to meet with leaders across industries to build a comprehensive network to address this complex systems issue with the investment, expertise, breadth, and scale that is required.
“We are currently in discussion with the Leather Working Group, which is very supportive of this work, and initial conversations have additionally been started with other high-volume users of Brazilian leather,” Wright added.
This announcement aligns with Tapestry’s commitment to minimizing the company’s impact on natural resources by promoting biodiversity initiatives where the company operates. Earlier this year, Tapestry also launched a new partnership with the Savory Institute’s Land to Market Program, the first verified sourcing solution for regenerative agriculture. By utilizing regenerative raw materials that have a net positive impact on the environment, Tapestry aims to improve biodiversity and drive a reduction of CO2 emissions.