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How sustainable is Tommy Hilfiger?

This screening has been done by Fairify on May 18th 2020

Tommy Hilfiger is an American clothing brand that’s sold all over the world. The company with the iconic logo was founded in 1985 and 35 years and a few acquisitions later, Tommy Hilfiger remains the principal designer at the company. In 2010, Tommy Hilfiger was acquired by PVH Corporation, which now publishes a yearly transparency report that covers all of its brands.

PVH Corporation is a huge American company with a brand portfolio of about ten brands, of which Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein are the biggest. PVH generates a revenue of almost 10 billion USD annually. PVH has acknowledged the problems in the fashion industry and adopted a strategy to do its part, called Forward Fashion. This consists of ambitious targets to positively change the way its clothing is manufactured. Forward fashion is made up of three pillars: completely reducing impacts to zero, improving the lives of everyone in its supply chain and increasing its positive impacts.

To solidify its ambition, the company has partnered with numerous organisations. As a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, PVH uses the Higg Index to measure environmental performance in its factories. With the adoption of Science Based Targets, it aims to reduce carbon emissions by 71% for its scope 1 and 2 and supply chain emissions by 30% by 2030. It reports yearly emissions through the Carbon Disclosure Project and has made a commitment with the RE100 initiative for 100% renewable energy by 2030. PVH’s partnership with ZDHC helps it eliminate harmful chemicals in its production process.

With no lack of ambition present at the company, these still remain targets and what’s more relevant is how the company is doing today. There is significant room for improvement in terms of transparency concerning material sourcing, since this is generally one of the factors that accounts for the largest climate impact. The company does disclose the amounts of materials, which shows that the main material is cotton, of which 37% was more sustainable like organic or recycled cotton. Other materials the clothing brand uses are synthetic materials like polyester, nylon and silicone. Of its polyester use, only 10.5% was recycled and use of animal materials outside of down, which is certified, is not mentioned and can be more transparent. Without proper disclosure about which animal materials are being used and whether the company has certifications for those materials, there remains a substantial risk of animal abuse in the supply chain.

What PVH does well in terms of transparency, is disclosing its environmental data. Its last known scope 3 emissions are 2,713,907 metric tonnes of CO2 and the company currently uses 28% renewable energy to run its offices, warehouses and stores. For its supply chain this percentage is 10%. Total water use is currently 92,521,783.5 cubic meters. Numbers like these are possible to calculate because they use the Higg Index and it’s great to see them published. PVH has also reported its tier 1 factories, which can be found on the Open Apparel Registry. The transparency is great on the environmental part, but there are a lot of improvements to be made here. The numbers are significant and the company has yet to adopt measures against polybags.

In 2018, the company joined ACT, which is an organization that helps companies move towards payment of a living wage in their supply chain. PVH is no member of a large independent body that conducts audits in its factories, but does work together with organizations like Better Work to improve working conditions. Even though Better Work conducts some audits for the company, most of the audits are done by PVH itself and while the company does offer a map with how the factories are rated, reports on the results and the conductors of these audits remains behind closed doors. A membership with an independent organization that conducts independent third-party audits can substantially reduce the risks of labor rights being violated and would be a first step towards seriously improving the lives of the people working in the company’s supply chain.

It’s refreshing to see a big company like PVH Corporation taking matters into its own hands and taking ownership over what happens in its supply chain. Undoubtedly, it’s realising that the consumer wants to know how its products are made and are therefore changing for the better. The company has already made significant gains in terms of transparency and shows its ambition in its adopted targets. But behind all these targets and stylish reporting, things start to break apart and reveal serious risks in its supply chain. PVH remains a very large and unsustainable company that produces all over the world. We fully support its new mission and have no doubt the company will better themselves. But there’s better brands out there, who have been built from the ground up with sustainability in mind.

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