REDUCING IMPACT BY DESIGN
Sustainable Product Design
Product sustainability begins with our designers. In FY19, we held our first internal sustainability fair to raise awareness across design and development teams on the use of responsible materials as well as preferred manufacturing processes that use less water and energy.
A key part of our approach to sustainable design is sourcing textiles made with responsible dyes, chemicals, and other processes. By 2020, we aim to achieve 100% transparency of the chemicals used during production and adopt a manufacturing-restricted substances list that will be implemented across our supply chain.
|Continuing the use of AVITERA® dyes to create the signature colors for our iconic polo shirts. These dyes use approximately 42% less water and 80% less energy than conventional methods. Last year alone, we made 1.2 million polos using this process. We also created 21% of polos in FY19 using fabrics certified to STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX®. This standard ensures that fabrics are created without the use of harmful substances.|
|Launching an internal report card to rank our denim products based on sustainable manufacturing parameters such as raw material use, dyeing and finishing, garment washing, and add-ons like zippers and hardware. The report card allows designers to easily pinpoint areas for improvement. To reduce the manufacturing impact of our denim, we continue to use liquid indigo and are transitioning to laser-friendly denim with eco finishes. These technologies yield energy and water savings while reducing the use of harmful chemicals and in turn chemical waste.|
Engaging with our Suppliers
We believe one of our greatest contributions to sustainability is making products that last. Our legacy of timeless style and commitment to quality mean our clothing can be worn for years and passed on to the next generation. Our robust Global Testing and Quality Assurance Program assesses our products at various stages of our supply chain to ensure integrity and durability.
We recognize that our suppliers are key to ensuring that our product quality and sustainability standards are upheld. We are finalizing a new Supplier Engagement Strategy to help us identify our strategic suppliers and engage with them in a more meaningful way. A key aspect of this strategy will be to increase production with these suppliers from 60 to 80% within two years. To further these relationships, we will roll out a supplier relationship management tool to all of our strategic and key suppliers, factories, and fabric mills by 2021.
Knowing where our materials come from and how they are made is key to creating our products sustainably. Our responsible sourcing program guides our commitment to sustainable materials and traceability, and focuses on our priority raw materials. In FY19, we began developing a sustainable fiber road map, including new polices, partnerships, and goals.
Cotton is used in the majority of our products and makes up 78% of our material use. By 2025, we will only source sustainable cotton, such as organic, recycled, transitional, U.S. grown, and Better Cotton (BCI). Ralph Lauren is a proud member of the Better Cotton Initiative and is committed to improving cotton farming practices globally. Better Cotton is not physically traceable to end products. However, BCI Farmers benefit from the demand for Better Cotton in equivalent volumes to those we ‘source.’
We believe that we, and the entire fashion industry, can become more sustainable by using recycled materials to make textiles. For Earth Day 2019, we released our Earth Polo, which is crafted from an innovative fabric produced entirely from plastic bottles. The recycled polyester made from these bottles uses 45% less energy and emits 30% less carbon dioxide compared to virgin polyester. Each Polo shirt is made from an average of 12 bottles—which may have otherwise ended up in oceans or landfills—and uses a completely waterless dyeing process. The Polo is part of our 2025 commitment to stop using virgin plastic across the Company and recycle 170 million bottles in the process.
Although we only use a small amount of leather, we recognize the significant impact it can have on the environment. The dyes and chemicals used to manufacture and finish leather can lead to water and air pollution if not managed correctly. We have committed to sourcing all of our leather from Leather Working Group (LWG) certified tanneries by 2025. We also aim to have all tanneries we source from achieve LWG’s highest certification level (gold) by 2030.
Although animal-derived products are only a small portion of our materials portfolio, we make the humane and ethical treatment of animals a top priority. As of FY19, all Ralph Lauren down is fully traceable and only sourced from suppliers that are certified by either the Responsible Down Standard or the Traceable Down Standard.
To achieve our sustainable sourcing goal for all animal-derived material by 2025:
- All wool sourced will either be recycled or certified by the Responsible Wool Standard
- All cashmere will be certified by the Sustainable Fibre Alliance
We are also working on novel alternatives to animal-derived materials that maintain our quality and do not cause more environmental harm. For more information, see our Animal Welfare Policy
Designing with Respect
As a design-driven company, we find inspiration in everything around us, from nature to experiences to people and, as Ralph Lauren has said, “from living.” For decades our aesthetics have drawn on sensibilities inspired by the heritage and cultural landscapes of America and beyond.
We understand and respect that there is a line between celebration and appropriation. We are committed to continuous learning about cultural awareness and sensitivity and train our design, product development, and merchant teams on this topic.