‘Vegan Leather’: How Fashion Giants Recast Plastic as Good for the Planet

The index premiums polyester as one of the world’s most sustainable fabrics, for instance, making use of details on European polyester creation offered by a plastics-sector team, while most of the world’s polyester is produced in Asia, ordinarily using a dirtier power grid and under considerably less stringent environmental procedures. The Higg score for elastane, also identified as Lycra or spandex, attracts on a examine by what was at the time the world’s largest elastane producer, Invista, a subsidiary of the conglomerate Koch Industries. (Invista marketed its Lycra business in 2019.)

The Higg Index alone was born a decade or so ago amid a climbing emphasis among the individuals on sustainability, environmental and animal-welfare considerations. It coincided with advances in synthetic-dependent materials that had been not only reasonably priced but had new capabilities that customers craved, this kind of as improved elasticity or enhancements in the ability to wick absent perspiration.

Many of the garment brands that sit on the board of the group that oversees the index gain from two manner megatrends that immediately benefited from advancements in synthetics like these: speedy trend and athleisure. The fast style giant H&M, for instance, displays what it calls Higg-centered sustainability profiles together with some of its products.

“Higg’s customers, a ton of them are rapid trend makes, and they all use generally polyester. So it favors them to get polyester a improved ranking,” said Brett Mathews, main editor of Apparel Insider, an marketplace-concentrated publication primarily based in London. But the details employed was “very very poor,” he claimed, and “the internet result is that the real Higg rating, which suggests this fiber is extra sustainable than that 1, is deceptive to consumers.”

The Sustainable Clothing Coalition explained enterprise facts was accurate and detailed, and had been gathered in line with industry expectations. Any hole concerning European and Chinese polyester generation would be compact in contrast to other dissimilarities in producing the textiles, like the knitting or weaving course of action, it explained.

H&M, which sits on the coalition board, stated the index was primarily based on “standardized and confirmed third get together information,” and that the resource was being “continuously developed and enhanced.” Walmart stated the Higg was not the only tool it used to strengthen the sustainability of its attire, and that it continued to assess the index’s abilities. Invista did not react to a request for remark.