Rainforest Action Network (RAN) released a new report Tuesday documenting the results of decades of irresponsible fabric sourcing including, human rights abuse to forest-dependent communities caused by deforestation from tree-based fabric production companies.
The report titled, “Lessons from the Incense Forest,” also incriminates popular American brands for reportedly contributing to forest destruction and human rights violations.
These brands, dubbed the “Fashion Fifteen,” include Prada, LVMH, Tory Burch, Michael Kors, Vince, Guess, Velvet, L Brands, Forever 21, Under Armour, Footlocker, Abercrombie and Fitch, GAIAM, Beyond Yoga and Ralph Lauren.
RAN slammed Ralph Lauren at the Council of Fashion Designers of American (CFDA) Fashion Awards in June, when activists demonstrated at the event, urging the company to use only forest-friendly fabrics in its collections.
The pressure on American fashion companies to address these violations in their global supply chains is growing.
“There are some brands that are taking action on this issue, like H&M and Stella McCartney, but Ralph Lauren and the Fashion Fifteen aren’t among them, and there’s just no excuse,” Brihannala Morgan, RAN’s senior forest campaigner, said. “As one of the biggest fashion brands in the world, Ralph Lauren has the ability and resources to ensure that human rights abuses and forest destruction won’t be a part of their next collection.”
RAN’s report details the recent global expansion of massive plantations for the production of pulp for use in fabrics, which has led to land grabbing from surrounding communities.
According to the report, Toba Pulp Lestari, a pulp and viscose rayon manufacturer located in Northern Sumatra, Indonesia, has over 20 documented cases where community owned land was forcibly seized without the community’s consent and clear-cut for fabric pulp.
“Every year, tens of millions of trees are turned into clothing through the use of forest fabrics like rayon and viscose,” Morgan said. “These forests have played a critical part of local community livelihoods for generations, and are now being seized and clear cut for forest fabrics. Without strong policies from fashion companies, rainforest destruction and human rights abuses can become part of our clothing. The time has come for Ralph Lauren and the Fashion Fifteen to take action to ensure that real changes are made on the ground to prevent deforestation, human rights abuses and climate pollution from being woven into the fabrics Americans wear everyday.”
RAN said it wants the brands to identify negative manufacturing components and develop commitments to protecting forests and human rights.