Global clothing brands look to eliminate endangered forests from viscose fabric

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Image from Canopy.
Image from Canopy

Vancouver – The world’s two largest clothing brands, H&M and Zara/Inditex, have committed to eliminate ancient and endangered forests from all of their rayon and viscose clothing.

The companies have developed these new purchasing commitments in partnership with Canopy, a Vancouver-based ENGO, as part of the Fashion Loved by Forest campaign, which seeks address the growing impacts of the clothing industry on the world’s forests, biodiversity and climate. Well-known sustainability brand Loomstate is also backing the global campaign.

Canopy researchers have found that rayon, viscose, modal and other trademarked fabrics are increasingly made using natural materials from the world’s most endangered forests — from Indonesia’s tropics to the Boreal Forests spanning northern land masses. The globally rare forests are cut down, pulped and spun into suit jacket linings, dresses, skirts, t-shirts and tank tops, which feed a growing industry poised for continued expansion. Getting a commitment by these top brands will help curtail the problem and build solutions.

“These clothing sector leaders are showing that being stylish doesn’t have to cost the earth,” said Canopy’s executive director Nicole Rycroft. “Canopy is excited to see two of the largest brands, both major trendsetters, stepping up to ensure fabrics are no longer sourced from the world’s endangered forests.”

The global apparel industry is a $1.2-trillion sector that yields enormous market and cultural influence. In addition to  Inditex/Zara and H&M, in concert with Loomstate, EILEEN FISHER, Quiksilver, and 17 other brands and designers supporting Canopy’s “Fashion Loved by Forest” initiative (www.canopystyle.org) will be tackling supply-chain transparency specific to forest-fabric sourcing. Their efforts will both help them avoid fibre from contentious forest regions and send a powerful signal to the logging and pulp sectors that market demands are shifting.

“H&M wants to play a strong role in ensuring a future for the planet’s ancient and endangered forests. We are fully committed to exploring our supply chain and doing our utmost to avoid these fabrics within the next three years”, said Henrik Lampa, Environmental Sustainability Manager at H&M. “Working with Canopy, we are excited to take the additional step of encouraging leaders throughout the supply chain to support conservation in endangered forests and use alternative inputs, for example recycled clothing, so our actions create lasting change”, he added.

Last year, an estimated 70 million trees were cut for fabric production, a number projected to double in the next 20 years. The last intact rainforests of Indonesia are falling at an alarming rate and species such as the critically endangered orang utan may vanish within our lifetimes if this trend is not reversed. In the only campaign of its kind globally, it is the combined efforts of leading brands, designers, retailers, models, suppliers, fashionistas and Canopy that will help curtail the demise of critical forest ecosystems and spark the development of solutions.

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