Last November, SAC members ASOS and SGS brought together more than ninety value chain partners together in New Delhi, India. The members collaborated to support their mutual goal of scaling Higg Index implementation. Event attendees were introduced to the Higg Facility Environmental Module (Higg FEM) and had the opportunity to meet with their value chain partners in person.
“It is all about communication and sharing,” ASOS Senior Sustainability Assistant Freddie Cooper said. “We are all working towards the same goal.” Cooper, who worked with SGS to organize the event, recognizes the value of meeting face to face with partners. He sought to host an event that fostered open dialogue. “There was lots of discussion and back and forth,” he said. “Suppliers shared that they left the event with a much clearer understanding of the benefits of the Higg FEM, and sustainability more broadly.”
“One of SGS’ goals in delivering the Higg introduction seminars is to make sure facilities understand the switch of mindset from compliance to continuous improvement and to have the participants understand that they should complete their assessment as accurately as possible,” SGS Global environmental Services Manager Xavier Vital said. “As less than 5% of the facilities achieved level 1 across the board with the Higg FEM V2, their focus should not be on the Higg score but should be on drafting a plan to progressively improve."
Sustainability Manager for SGS India Dr. KA Vijayakumar, who helped organize the event in New Delhi, works frequently with brands and facilities to develop and offer training opportunities that bring value chain partners closer together.
"Collaboration is essential to successfully improve the apparel and footwear environmental and social practices,” Sustainability Manager for SGS India Dr. KA Vijayakumar said. “Collaborating with ASOS and the other brands involved in this training in India was a very positive experience that we look forward to duplicate.” Vijayakumar is an approved Higg FEM specialist verifier, approved Higg FEM trainer, and he is also a ZDHC approved trainer.
The in-person meeting promoted conversation and feelings of positivity among attendees, Cooper said. He believes that, thanks to the meeting, participants gained a deeper understanding of the Higg Index, which will contribute to improved data collection.
“I have found that everyone has been really positive and willing to work together,” Cooper said. “We are all working towards the same goal. It is about communication, sharing, and making sure everyone’s needs are considered.” Later this year, ASOS plans to host a similar event in Turkey. ASOS invites other members interested in collaborating in similar ways to contact them.
SAC's Amina Razvi, Levi Strauss & Co's Kyle Rudzinski, Stefanka Tech's Elizabeth Stefanka, and H&M Group's Lara Coppen
SAC at SXSW
Hype or Reality: Sustainability in Fashion
SAC Interim Executive Director Amina Razvi spoke on two panels at SXSW in Austin, Texas in March. Razvi joined SAC member representatives Levi’s Director of Sustainability Strategy Kyle Rudzinski and H&M Group’s Creative Business Development & Circular Lead at the Laboratory Laura Coppen on a panel hosted by Stefanka Tech. The panelists discussed the industry’s collaborative efforts to scale social and environmental sustainability measurement with the intent of driving improved performance across the global value chain.
Do Epic Good's Ramzi Moutran, Shannon Elizabeth Foundation's Simon Borchert and Shannon Elizabeth, Patagonia's Corley Kenna, SAC's Amina Razvi.
Good for the Bottom Line
In a special event hosted by the United Nations Media Zone, Razvi joined panelists from Patagonia, Shannon Elizabeth Foundation in a session moderated by Do Epic Good. The panelists discussed how their organizations’ efforts align with the UN’s Sustainability Development Goals. SAC’s mission most strongly supports SDG 12, Responsible Consumption, and 17, Partnerships for the Goals. See a recording of the panel discussion.