VF Corp. appears to be the first apparel and leather goods company to stop sourcing leather from Brazil in reaction the country’s slow response in battling ongoing fires in the Amazon.
Molly Cuffe, director of corporate responsibility communications at VF, which has brands such as Vans, Timberland and the North Face that source small amounts of leather from Brazil, said since 2017 the company has enhanced its global leather supply chain due diligence to ensure leather suppliers are compliant with its responsible sourcing requirements.
“As a result of this detailed diligence, we are no longer able to satisfactorily assure ourselves that our de minimis volume of leather purchased from Brazilian suppliers upholds this commitment,” Cuffe said. “Therefore, VF Corp. and our brands have decided to no longer directly source leather and hides from Brazil for our international businesses until we have the confidence and assurance that the materials used in our products do not contribute to environmental harm in the country.”
VF said across its businesses, the company develops and implements policies to align its business decisions with “VF’s purpose to power movements of sustainable and active lifestyles for the betterment of people and the planet.”
“For many years, VF Corp. and our brands have implemented responsible sourcing policies that uphold VF’s values throughout our raw material sourcing efforts,” Cuffe added.
In signing the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action in May, VF said climate action was a central pillar of its sustainability strategy. A signature pillar of VF’s Made for Change Sustainability and Responsibility strategy is a commitment to pursuing circular business models to limit the impact business has on the environment by rethinking the lifecycle of products.
In Brazil, news reports show the number of fires in its Amazon basin are still on the rise, even though last week the government banned all man-made fires in the rainforest.
According to the National Space Research Institute, from January to the end of August, 51.9 percent of Brazil’s recorded 88,816 fires were in the rainforest, widely blamed on farmers’ widespread deforestation.
Farmers in Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia commonly set fires in the dry season to clear the undergrowth in deforested areas of the Amazon. However, this often leads to uncontrolled burning, which takes a greater toll on the rainforest.