Abercrombie & Fitch Co. has announced a new policy on the sourcing and use of popular but controversial wood-based fabrics, including rayon, viscose and modal, in its clothes.
A&F’s policy and actions on wood-based fabrics were developed in collaboration with Rainforest Action Network (RAN), whose “Out of Fashion” campaign has been bringing attention to the risks that many wood-based fabrics pose to endangered forests, and the people who depend on those forests, in Indonesia and elsewhere.
A&F has committed to trace the sources of regenerated cellulosic fibers, such as viscose and rayon, used in its own clothing lines. By mid-2018, the company will have put in place comprehensive procedures to establish the origin of its suppliers’ fibers, which are designed to ensure it does not work with those sourcing from ancient or endangered forests, or linked to violation of the rights of indigenous peoples who depend on such forests. This new policy will cover all of A&F’s brands – including Abercrombie & Fitch, Abercrombie Kids, and Hollister Co.
A&F joins a growing list of apparel companies implementing policies to ensure its supply chain does not contribute to deforestation. The company stands out with Ralph Lauren and Victoria’s Secret (L Brands) as one of the few major U.S.-based companies to publicly address these issues.
“Communities in North Sumatra have been campaigning on this issue for over thirty years, demanding that global brands acknowledge and remedy their local impacts to people and forests,” said Brihannala Morgan, Senior Forest Campaigner with Rainforest Action Network, who worked with Abercrombie & Fitch Co. on the creation of its policy. “It’s encouraging to see brands beginning to take responsibility for their supply chains. Abercrombie & Fitch’s commitments and actions, joining more than 100 other brands who have developed policies, can truly have a positive impact on forests and the people that depend on them.”
“At A&F, we have a history of demonstrating our commitment to environmental responsibility through our actions, and this new policy is a further step on our ongoing sustainability journey,” added Kim Harr, Senior Director of Sustainability at Abercrombie & Fitch Co. “We know there is a need for better supply chain traceability and, with RAN’s support, we can now make an even greater positive impact.”
A&F’s new policy amplifies a strong market signal to producers in Indonesia, Canada, South Africa and Brazil where the production of pulp for fabrics has had major impacts on natural forests, as well as on the Indigenous and local communities who depend on the forests. For example, in Northern Sumatra, Indonesia, over 20 cases of land conflict have been documented where traditionally-owned land have been cleared and converted to plantations, without the communities’ consent, to make pulp for fabric and paper production.
Over the course of its Out of Fashion campaign, RAN encouraged its membership and consumers to write to A&F and other “Fashion 15” brands to call attention to the environmental and social impacts of forest-based fabrics and to ask the companies to take immediate action. RAN’s Out of Fashion campaign continues to call on other brands including Michael Kors, Guess, Forever 21, Under Armour and Foot Locker to develop robust purchasing policies, research their supply chains, identify and eliminate controversial sources and implement time bound plans to ensure that their supply chains are not connected to the loss of forests or any associated violations of human rights.