Fashion’s reputation has taken a hit over the past few years, with its unsustainable practices and impact on those that work in industry making headlines. A number of retailers and brands in the clothing, footwear and accessories sectors have looked to distance themselves from this image.
To ensure they are not accused of greenwashing some have turned to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi) – John Lewis and HelloFresh to name a few – other brands are being certified as B Corporations.
Created by non-profit organisation B Lab, the assessment rates businesses on social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. Companies need to prove themselves in five key areas: Governance, Workers, Community, Environment and Customers.
To achieve and maintain certification, all B Corps must complete the B Impact Assessment and achieve a verified total score of 80+ points; meet the B Corp legal requirement; and sign the B Corp Agreement and the Declaration of Interdependence.
Here are a selection of retailers who have done just that:
The UK-based outdoor clothing company achieved B Corp status in March 2023, and pledged to continue improving its approach to responsible business practices.
“B Corp certification is not the beginning of our journey, and it’s far from the end, but it’s another significant step forward in striving to make the world a better place with Berghaus in it. Everything we’re currently doing is in service of inspiring more people to spend more time in nature,” said Charlie Pym, Berghaus brand director.
The company offers a free repairs service Repairhaus, and stressed it is dedicated to quality and durability.
FatFace has a focus on sustainability under three key pillars – product, planet, and community. It is the progress across all three of these areas that led to the British lifestyle clothing brand being awarded B Corp certification in April 2023.
Nick Stevenson, director of trading and sustainability at FatFace, said: “From our responsible sourcing practices, climate conscious initiatives and inspiring charity partnerships to the wonderful people who are driving change across our business and in our local communities, becoming a B Corp is a celebration of all that we stand for.
“Our sustainability journey began over ten years ago but fast forward to today – now an international multichannel business – and we are more focused and ambitious than ever on finding ways to reduce our impact on the planet, and positively support our colleagues and the communities we operate in.”
The Cornwall-based apparel company was initially awarded B Corp status in 2018, but has since improved its rating from 80.8 to 93.2.
It increased its score in four of the five sections of the B Corp assessment, and plans to actively measure and work to improve across all areas between now and the next recertification in 2024.
A statement from Finisterre reads: “Becoming B Corp certified was a proud moment for us – joining a global movement of like-minded businesses pushing for change – but we have been a sustainably focussed business since our founding in 2003.
“Becoming certified was a confirmation of this, and being part of the B Corp community means we stand shoulder to shoulder with others who share our values; learning from each other and collaborating to reap the rewards of our shared expertise.”
Last year, Hurr became the first fashion rental platform in the world to achieve B Corp Certification. It cited its exclusive partnership with sustainable laundry firm Oxwash (which also has its own B Corp status) as one of the reasons for its accreditation.
Hurr also measures its carbon footprint with CoGo, has a circular collaboration with Depop and launched it own resale offering with ‘Keep It Forever’, all of which scored highly with B Lab.
“It’s a huge step in our ongoing mission to transform the fashion industry and help make fashion circular, one rental at a time,” Hurr said.
Unsurprisingly, Patagonia achieved B Corp status over a decade ago.
“Patagonia is trying to build a company that could last 100 years,” said founder Yvon Chouinard on the day Patagonia signed up. “Benefit corporation legislation creates the legal framework to enable mission-driven companies like Patagonia to stay mission-driven through succession, capital raises, and even changes in ownership, by institutionalising the values, culture, processes, and high standards put in place by founding entrepreneurs.”
Each year, B Lab recognises the B Corps that have achieved the highest verified scores in the five impact areas evaluated on the B Impact Assessment. Patagonia scored Best For The World: Community and Environment in 2022, and Changemakers and Overall in 2019.
The footwear brand claims its community has impacted 100,000,000 lives by supporting the work of non-profit organisations around the world.
It commits 1/3 of profits to grassroots causes, in support of the people working to build a more equitable tomorrow.
“At TOMS we have always believed that striving to do right by the people and places we touch will not only lead to a positive social impact, but will also lead to positive business results,” said Jim Alling, CEO at TOMS.
“We are proud to be associated with the other companies that have made the commitment to operate as a B Corp™ and we hope that many others will join us.”
The pre-loved retailer became the world’s first B Corp fashion resale platform in September 2021. With an inventory of three million items, the secondhand platform aims to provide inspiration, tools and features to support consumers to sell and buy unique pre-loved pieces from each other’s wardrobes.
Vestiaire Collective was particularly recognised for significant achievements in the ‘Workers’ and ‘Governance’ areas.
Fanny Moizant, Vestiaire Collective, co-founder & president, said: “It’s a huge step on our way to transforming the fashion industry. Vestiaire Collective was born with the idea that we can drive change for a more sustainable future.
“This recognition is more evidence that we can make it. We are extremely honoured to join a growing and pioneering community and we hope it is only the beginning of a broader move that will trigger even more commitment among our industry and community of fashion activists.”
Read more about how UK fashion retailers are shifting to a more sustainable offering in the RetailX UK Fashion 2023 report.
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