Gap Inc. and the global nonprofit Textile Exchange are developing the Preferred Fiber Toolkit, a resource that the partners say will be publicly released and could be used by sourcing and design teams to help companies in the apparel industry meet their sustainability goals.
The toolkit builds on quantitative data inputs from the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s (SAC) Higg Materials Sustainability Index for its evaluation of raw material choices, according to Textile Exchange and Gap Inc., which owns the Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic, Athleta, Intermix, Janie and Jack, and Hill City brands.
“It also incorporates other holistic indicators to consider environmental considerations such as biodiversity and land-use change, and waste-elimination guidance for contributing to the circular economy,” the partners said. “Human rights, labor concerns, and animal welfare within raw material sourcing are also considered, to layer in additional nuance beyond environmental data.”
The idea with the Preferred Fiber Toolkit is to provide clear direction for apparel brands, minimizing conflicting guidance.
“As an industry, apparel and retail have struggled to cohesively measure and explain sourcing material choices, often resorting to a brand-by-brand decision-making process that can be subjective and opaque,” Gap Inc. and Textile Exchange’s joint statement said. “With customers, employees, and other shareholders expecting higher levels of transparency than ever, brands are working to source and market more sustainable fibers.”
Textile Exchange plans to add new data as well as more fibers and materials to the toolkit. Later this year, stakeholders will have an opportunity to share feedback on the updated toolkit and proposed review process, the nonprofit said.
Joël Mertens, senior manager of Higg Product Tools at the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, noted that embedded Higg MSI data and other qualitative indicators in the Preferred Fiber Toolkit allow users to consider environmental effects and additional sustainability values in their sourcing decisions — from fiber to full materials and products.