Making better products
We minimize the burden on the environment by using more environmentally friendly fibers and materials for products, and using cleaner factories for production.
Every step in the supply chain from farmer, trader, spinner, weaver, sewing factory and laundry to the WE Fashion distribution center involves a large number of environmentally damaging processes.
WE Fashion wants to minimize the burden on the environment by using more environmentally friendly fibers and materials for products, and using cleaner factories for production. The reduction of water, chemicals and energy in production is important, as is the reduction of waste produced. This way the footprint of our products will go down, which is good for both the environment and the people who live in it.
Cotton is the most used raw material in the collections of WE Fashion. That is why we mainly focus on the use of sustainable cotton. We do not only reduce the use of water, chemicals and pesticides, but also increase the use of environmentally friendly raw materials in our products. We also want to further reduce the use of chemicals, water and energy in production, especially during dyeing and finishing.
WE Fashion has set two goals to achieve the above, the goals are subdivided into different actions.
- Use more sustainable materials in general
- Make all product stages more sustainable and transparent
Are you interested in reading more about what goals we have set and what we have achieved to make better products? You can find our latest sustainability report on the Transparency page.
Sustainable raw materials strategy
At the launch of the WE Fashion Sustainable Raw Materials Strategy, we set the goal that by the end of 2020 half our collections will be made from sustainable materials. Because cotton has a 70% share in our products, we focus primarily on purchasing sustainable cotton. In order to achieve this, we have become a member of the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), and have formulated targets for the various purchasing departments.
WE Fashion signed the 2025 Sustainable Cotton Pledge. With this pledge we commit to only use sustainable cotton in our products by 2025. But we aim to achieve this goal rather sooner!
Do you want to read more about how many sustainable materials we already purchase? You can find our sustainability report on the Transparency page.
Organic cotton is grown without the use of pesticides, fertilizer or modified seeds. Every step taken from farmer to sewing factory is certified. If a garment is labeled organic we can guarantee that it comes from a certified factory. Worldwide the scale of organic cotton is limited and the costs are higher.
Approximately 12% of all cotton in WE Fashion products is organic cotton.
WE Fashion is a member of the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI) since 2015. Cotton is the most used raw material in our products. Through this membership we can ensure more of the cotton for our products is sustainably sourced. BCI provides training and guidance for farmers, resulting in a higher yield for the farmer and his employees, and a reduction in the use of water, pesticides and artificial fertilizer. We will buy 100% ‘more sustainable cotton’ by 2021, of which will up to 90% Better Cotton. We consider organic cotton, Better Cotton and recycled cotton as 'more sustainable cotton'.
The aim of the BCI is to transform the production of regular cotton into a sustainable raw material. BCI was established to improve cotton production worldwide for the people who produce it, for the environment and for the future of the sector. BCI connects people and organizations from the entire cotton sector from the cotton field to the shop, and promotes measurable and lasting improvements in the environment, in agricultural communities and in the economy in cotton producing areas.
BCI is the largest sustainability program for cotton in the world. It is a joint effort of farmers, spinning mills, brands and retailers, and social organizations to make the cotton sector more sustainable. In recent years, the initiative has provided training on sustainable farming methods for more than 2 million farmers in 21 countries. With the membership, we fashion chooses an initiative that is scalable and can generate a large impact worldwide.
BCI uses a chain of custody model called mass balance, which encourages us to buy and use more better cotton in a cost efficient manner, as it does not require complexities that result in costly physical segregation along the supply chain. However, this means that Better Cotton is not physically traceable to end products. Mass balance functions much like renewable energy. If you purchase renewable energy credits, a power line is not run, from say, a wind farm directly to your house. Rather, the credits are proof that a certain amount of renewable energy has been added to the existing power grid. This energy might not be powering the lights in your house, but nonetheless, your purchase ensures that greener energy is added to and pulled from the power grid.
In this way, by committing to sourcing Better Cotton, brands can be assured that they are supporting more sustainable cotton production regardless of where that cotton ends up.
For more information see https://bettercotton.org/.
Reuse of materials - circular textiles
The reuse of worn clothing and used fibers is expected to develop further in the coming years. Clothing that is not used anymore, can be used to make new yarn as post-consumer fibers. In projects, WE Fashion has developed a yarn twice, made with post-consumer recycled fibers. Sweaters and cardigans have been knitted from the yarns, which we have sold in our stores.
We want to use more recycled material in our collections in the future, there are more and more suppliers that offer yarns or fabrics that are made from recycled fibers.
WE Fashion finds the welfare of animals very important. All products manufactured must be produced without any damage or cruelty to animals at any stage in the supply chain. The WE Animal Welfare Policy helps designers and buyers to make the right decision. By default we follow the five freedoms as stated by the FAWC (Farm Animal Welfare Committee). For more details, see the WE Animal Welfare Policy on the Transparency page.
WE Fashion uses no fur, angora fibers, down, exotic hides, and materials of endangered species. We allow the use of certain materials, provided that it meets conditions: mulese-free merino wool, leather from animals bred for meat production, and mother-of-pearl that does not come from endangered shellfish. Wool, leather and silk can simply be used.
WE Fashion has signed the Fur Free Declaration. For more information see https://furfreeretailer.com/.
PVC and Azo dyes are prohibited chemicals in our processes and our products, suppliers may not use materials made with PVC or Azo dyes. Products are always tested to confirm the absence of the chemicals.
For the proper use of other chemicals, we use the WE Restricted Substances List (RSL). This overview shows which chemicals we accept in our products and in which quantities.
Every WE Fashion product and packaging must meet the requirements for the use of chemicals, as stated in the WE RSL. The materials are tested during the development of the products.
WE Fashion also has a spot check program in collaboration with TUV, which randomly checks products for compliance with the WE RSL. TUV performs these tests 3 to 4 times a year, and is free to choose test products.
Complying with environmental standards in production
In January 2020 WE Fashion has become a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC). SAC works with several different modules, of which the Higg Facility Environmental Module (Higg FEM). This tool informs brands, retailers, and manufacturers about the environmental performance of facilities, so they can make improvements that reduce negative impacts. The module can be used by factories at any tier of the supply chain. At the beginning of 2020, this module was in use by 32 processing factories and materials suppliers in our supply chain, of which 16 factories had finished the Higg FEM module.
The module will give us the tools to measure the savings factories make in reducing the environmental impact in the supply chain, by improving their Higg FEM performance. For more information see https://apparelcoalition.org/the-higg-index/ .
Cotton for kids collection is 100% sustainably sourced
From the spring of 2020, all cotton for the children's collection of WE Fashion is 100% sustainably sourced. The cotton for the kids collections has been sourced through the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI).
BCI helps farmers to implement cotton production methods that care for the environment and improve livelihoods. Better Cotton is sourced via a system of Mass Balance and is not physically traceable to end products.
In 2019, our investment enabled BCI to reach and train almost 1,750 farmers on more sustainable practices, and it enabled Better Cotton to be produced on almost 3,000 HA of land.