Cascale, Worldly Webinar Explores Links Between Higg BRM, CSRD, and CS3D

  • Higg Index Tools
  • Higg BRM
  • Legislation and Policy
June 18, 2024

On June 12, Cascale and Worldly co-hosted “Navigating Legislation & the Higg Index: Higg BRM with CSRD & More,” a webinar where industry experts discussed the importance of legislative frameworks such as the European Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) and Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CS3D) in shaping the future of corporate sustainability reporting and accountability.

The webinar focused on how the Higg Brand and Retail Module (Higg BRM) can support Cascale members and Worldly customers in meeting their reporting obligations under CSRD. This is the second webinar in the Navigating Legislation & the Higg Index webinar series.

Cascale’s Gabriele Ballero, policy and public affairs officer, moderated the webinar. Speakers included Elisabeth von Reitzenstein, senior director, policy and public affairs at Cascale; JR Siegel, vice president, sustainability at Worldly; Maravillas Rodriguez Zarco, senior director, Higg Index strategy and operations at Cascale; and Adrián Branco, senior manager, Higg Index brand and retail at Cascale.

Sustainability specialists, ESG managers, directors, public affairs professionals, sourcing and supplier traceability managers, buyers, consultants, and analysts tuned in live, raising many thoughtful questions about the intersection of the Higg BRM and reporting compliance.

During the webinar, von Reitzenstein explained CSRD, an EU directive aiming to enhance transparency in companies’ sustainability practices by requiring detailed disclosure of environmental and social impacts and related risks and opportunities. She outlined the adoption timeline, discussed the complementary relationship between CSRD and CS3D, and highlighted Branco’s expert contributions to the European Financial Reporting Advisory Group (EFRAG) to support the development of textile-specific European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS).

Siegel emphasized the importance of leveraging primary data for measurable impact, including emissions, energy consumption, water, waste, chemistry, and working conditions — all of which are included in CSRD. He emphasized that these topics align with CSRD requirements, which will serve as the roadmap for corporate sustainability teams over the next decade. Essential tools for supporting compliance include the Higg BRM, the Higg Facility Environmental Module (Higg FEM) for annual environmental data, and the recently launched Facility Data Manager (FDM). Worldly’s FDM tool enables monthly tracking of GHG emissions, waste, and water data from supply chain partners.

Rodriguez Zarco and Branco unpacked the potential of the Higg BRM, providing insights on how the tool can support Cascale members and Higg Index users in their reporting obligations under CSRD. They structured their technical discussion following the European Sustainability Reporting Standards (ESRS), reviewing the most relevant topics and explaining how the Higg BRM is useful in each specific context. Topics included double materiality; entity-specific disclosures; governance; impact, risks, and opportunities; minimum disclosure requirements; topical standards; and more.

In exploring ESRS 1 and 2, they highlighted how the Higg BRM enhances sustainability reporting and compliance practices. The Higg BRM serves as a vital tool, supporting efforts that are compliant, impactful, measurable, and continuously improving. The tool aligns closely with the ESRS, covering more than 65 percent of its disclosure requirements.

Branco stressed that these pieces of legislation prioritize governance in a company’s sustainability reporting, underscoring that this shift towards holistic integration is crucial for building trust with stakeholders who are increasingly focused on a company’s commitment to ESG goals.

Outlining the next steps for the tool, Rodriguez Zarco said Cascale will publish a white paper on the Higg BRM, delving into how the tool supports companies in their reporting obligations under CSRD and including a detailed mapping between ESRS and the Higg BRM content. Additionally, Cascale plans to update the Higg BRM to improve its alignment with ESRS, set for release in 2025. This update will maintain the comparability of the questionnaire and scoring with previous versions to allow for tracking progress.

Working in close partnership over the years, Cascale and Worldly continue to align on the Higg Index suite of tools and resources that members and users need to address compliance. The co-hosted Navigating Legislation & the Higg Index webinar series is one of many resources with a timely and educational value proposition. It aims to guide over 24,000 Higg Index users through their compliance journeys with current and upcoming EU and national legislation by leveraging the Higg Index suite of tools.

To receive updates on upcoming webinars in the series and other Cascale news, subscribe to our newsletter.

How Fashion Brands Can Leverage Higg BRM for Decision-Making, Compliance

Higg BRM’s tool update in March scales up value chain sustainability improvements.

  • Higg Index Tools
  • Higg BRM
Rack with hanging clothes on a bright yellow background
Black and white headshot of Kaley Roshitsh
Kaley Roshitsh
March 13, 2024

With 2030 on the horizon and regulation in flux, brands and retailers are looking for a streamlined means for measuring progress.

In an interview with Cascale, Maravillas Rodriguez Zarco, senior director Higg Index Strategy & Operations, explored the recent Higg Brand and Retailer Module (BRM) update, including how it could advance data-driven decision-making and compliance in fashion.

Zarco shared that, for starters, Higg BRM’s ESG assessment is designed specifically for fashion’s hotspots so any brand or retailer can isolate and deploy resources more effectively. Amid ongoing regulation, the Higg BRM will support users in their compliance journey, specifically with the European Union’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD). The Higg BRM, as with other tools, was the subject of a November 2023 policy alignment report from Cascale and consulting firm BCW. The analysis showed Higg BRM is “well aligned” with the requirements of the EU CSRD.

“Our strength lies in understanding the dynamics occurring throughout the value chain, knowing where to put the effort and what the immediate challenges of the industry are to become more sustainable,” said Zarco.

Higg BRM provides granular data in a digestible way that allows for data-driven decision-making. Zarco said it’s a testament of the way the assessment was built and how the scoring was developed. Benchmarking (a members-only feature) and verification equally supports this intention. Ultimately, the tool allows fashion brands and retailers to assess and support their partners along their compliance journey.

“We think of Higg BRM not only as a robust ESG assessment tool, but also an ally for members and non-members alike. It allows fashion brand and retailers to assess their ESG performance in a standardized way. It can be shared with their business partners across the value chain, so that they can make informed decisions.”

And policy is not ever an afterthought. Zarco said a technical paper is coming soon, outlining the specifics of brand and retailer compliance. Until then, she said the latest Higg BRM update is a useful way to drive data-driven decision-making for brands.

“We’re actively evolving the tool to address potential gaps between the Higg BRM and the CSRD,” said Zarco. “Through this tool, brands and retailers are able to build consistent corporate sustainability strategies to deliver more effectively on ESG goals and industry needs, reduce reporting burden, and avoid duplication across sustainability initiatives.”

Specifically, the updates include improved data consistency and accuracy, while providing deeper performance metrics and insights. Another standout feature of the update, Zarco mentioned, is upgraded benchmarking for members. All past versions of Higg BRM are compatible with upcoming versions including this latest update. Further, the tool maintains alignment with key industry frameworks including Textile Exchange’s Material Benchmark, which addresses more sustainable or preferred fiber types, and the Zero Discharge Hazardous Chemical (ZDHC) “Brands to Zero” program which focuses on net-zero improvements.

Cascale also updated its Higg BRM Verification upon member feedback for improved consistency and data accuracy. Exactly 11 brands participated in the Higg BRM verification pilot and their insights informed the latest updated Higg BRM Verification. This version is available to all users but remains optional for Cascale members.

“Though a minor update, the latest Higg BRM is designed for major impact,” she reiterated.

Cascale Releases Updated Higg Brand & Retail Module Tool

  • Higg Index Tools
  • Higg BRM
March 04, 2024

Amsterdam, Hong Kong, Oakland (CA) – March 4, 2024: Cascale (formerly the Sustainable Apparel Coalition) has launched the latest version of the Higg Brand and Retail Module (BRM), part of the Higg Index suite of tools. This update reflects Cascale’s commitment to continuously evolving, updating, and refining the Higg Index to meet the needs of members, users, and the industry.

The Higg BRM is the leading framework specific to the textile, apparel, and footwear industry designed for brands and retailers to evaluate, assess, and improve Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) performance. The tool assesses 11 critical impact areas along global value chains to foster a holistic approach to sustainability.

The Higg BRM 2023 update, launched in collaboration with Worldly – the exclusive platform for the Higg Index tools, which has become the leader in environmental and social impact data for the apparel and footwear industry –  will be live on Worldly’s platform today. While the Higg BRM 2023 update is minor, it brings a multitude of benefits to users, including more refined guidance, new social metrics, and a framework designed to keep pace with rapidly evolving sustainability landscapes. The Higg BRM remains consistent and comparable with previous versions, allowing for year-over-year tracking and continuous improvement, and aims to help organizations respond to the unique challenges that users face to facilitate significant, sustainable change for the industry.

“The Higg BRM stands as a beacon for sustainability in the fashion industry, guiding brands and retailers through their sustainability journeys,” said Maravillas Rodriguez Zarco, senior director, Higg Index Strategy & Operations at Cascale. “The Higg BRM is more than a tool—it’s a community’s commitment to a sustainable future. As we stride forward and converge with key frameworks, including the Textile Exchange’s Material Benchmark and the ZDHC Brands to Zero program, our members are empowered to craft sustainability strategies that are not only consistent but impactful.”

Higg BRM 2023 Benefits

Through the Higg BRM, brands and retailers are able to build consistent corporate sustainability strategies to deliver more effectively on ESG goals and industry needs, while avoiding duplication across sustainability initiatives. Furthermore, the Higg BRM can assist with supporting members and users in their reporting obligations. Cascale is actively evolving the tool to address potential gaps between the Higg BRM and the CSRD.

A new feature of the Higg BRM is upgraded benchmarking capabilities that provide a holistic view of a company’s performance, spotlight emerging trends, and uncover opportunities for continuous improvement. Since the last major update, the Higg BRM now assesses the entire value chain to provide a more comprehensive view of a company’s sustainability journey.

Additionally, Higg BRM verification is now accessible to all users (but remains optional for Cascale members), providing more accurate and trusted data, fostering deeper insights into performance metrics and data, and providing new avenues for continuous improvement.

The Journey to Update the Higg BRM

In 2022, Cascale initiated a discovery phase to identify the industry’s needs and the areas where the Higg BRM could improve. The organization interviewed 78 members and  evaluated 15 assessment frameworks. Finally, in close collaboration with members and industry partners, Cascale began to build the new Higg BRM tool. Key industry collaborators included the Apparel Alliance members Textile Exchange and ZDHC, as well as Fair Wear and STTI. These organizations have contributed to the development of specific content on chemicals, materials, biodiversity, circularity, and responsible purchasing practices. In 2023, a more streamlined version of the Higg BRM was introduced that included an exclusive, industry-specific ESG framework.

In 2023, a verification pilot was conducted with 11 Cascale member brands and three verifier bodies. Upon completion of the pilot, Cascale identified opportunities for improvements and tool enhancement to improve data accuracy and meet industry needs, further cementing the commitment to continuous improvement and evolution of the Higg Index tools.

To help members better understand the latest update and changes, Cascale will host a members-only Higg BRM Launch Webinar on Thursday March 7, to present key information and resources, and share what’s next for the Higg BRM.


About the Higg BRM

The Higg BRM is the leading framework specific to the textile, apparel, and footwear industry designed for brands and retailers to evaluate, assess, and improve Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performance. The tool assesses 11 critical impact areas along global value chains to foster a holistic approach to sustainability.

About Cascale 

Cascale is the global nonprofit alliance empowering collaboration to drive equitable and restorative business practices in the consumer goods industry. Spanning over 300 retailers, brands, manufacturers, governments, academics, and NGO/nonprofit affiliates around the globe, we are united by a singular vision: To catalyze impact at scale and give back more than we take to the planet and its people. Formerly known as the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, Cascale owns and develops the Higg Index and a unified strategy for industry transformation.

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About Worldly 

Worldly is the planet’s most comprehensive impact intelligence platform, trusted by 40,000+ major brands, retailers, and manufacturers in fashion, outdoor, home goods, toys, and more. Worldly uniquely collects high-resolution primary data specific to companies’ value chains, operations, and products, providing insight into true impacts across carbon, water, chemistry, and labor. Featuring the most comprehensive source of ESG data for global manufacturers and the largest library of materials and product impacts, Worldly empowers businesses to scale responsibility into their global operations, faster and more accurately. Hosting, connecting with, and supporting the leading industry solutions and methodologies including ZDHC, Bluesign, and the Higg Index – the most widely-adopted measure of sustainability in the apparel industry – Worldly delivers the insights businesses need to reduce their impact, comply with emerging regulatory and financial disclosure requirements, and meet the expectations of a new generation of customers.

Sustainable Apparel Coalition releases latest version of the Higg Brand & Retail Module to support companies to drive positive impact at scale

  • Higg BRM
Caucaisan female customer with curly hair buying clothes in boutique
March 01, 2023
  • The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) has today released a major update to the Higg Brand & Retail Module (BRM) to more effectively deliver on industry needs and drive positive impact.
  • The update follows a process of rigorous consultation between the SAC, its members, Apparel Alliance partners Textile Exchange and ZDHC and other industry experts.
  • The result is a tool which will help brands and retailers to better assess their Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performance along their entire global value chain, in order to improve performance.
  • In order to drive positive impact at scale the tool now has greater alignment with ‘best in class’ frameworks on issues such as biodiversity, or responsible purchasing practices. 


San Francisco, Amsterdam, Hong Kong – March 01, 2023: The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), in collaboration with technology partner Higg, has today released the latest version of the Higg Brand & Retail Module (BRM), one of the five assessment tools in the Higg Index. The Higg BRM is a leading, holistic framework that creates an industry specific method for brands and retailers to evaluate, report on and improve Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performance along their global value chains. The SAC has invested in a major update of the tool which will feature a new assessment structure and updated methodology, underpinned by a due diligence approach. The update will encourage brands and retailers to focus on real action, impact and results.

Recent findings from The Industry We Want, in partnership with Fair Wear, the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) and the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), has revealed the apparel and footwear industry is not making fast enough progress on purchasing practices, supply chain wages and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In order to drive the scale of transformation needed, brands and retailers need a clear and standardized picture of their environmental and social hotspots, to create a clear roadmap for transformation.

This new version of the assessment has been reorganized across 11 key areas, split across three pillars (environmental impacts, social impacts, governance) to be more relevant to where the industry needs to drive change, faster. The assessment has added biodiversity as a new impact area and now features more in depth questions on water and circularity as key impact areas and levers of change in the tool. The questions have also been revised to align with best in class standards; for example alignment with best practice guidance on responsible purchasing practices. Additionally, the scoring methodology has been simplified so it can be shared with users openly. The Higg BRM now provides one finite score out of 100, in addition to score breakdowns per pillar and impact area, making it easier to understand, communicate and benchmark against peers.

The assessment has been restructured to provide greater value for different organizations to prioritize our industry’s pressing ESG issues and focusing on impacts and results. Other benefits include the reduction of reporting burden through alignment with relevant frameworks and by eliminating the duplication across the entire questionnaire.

The update is based on research by the SAC’s Higg BRM team and is the result of one year of consultations and with over 75 stakeholders including members and industry experts to ensure close alignment with standard assessment protocols. It has been developed in collaboration with members, key partner organizations including Apparel Alliance members Textile Exchange and ZDHC who contributed to the development of specific content on materials, biodiversity, circularity and chemicals. The SAC also engaged STTI and the Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives Working Group of the Common Framework of Responsible Purchasing Practice (CFRPP), represented by Fair Wear, who provided input and feedback on the responsible purchasing practices section of the assessment. SAC members across all territories were also consulted and the SAC hosted three regional roundtables to ensure all geographies were represented.

Jeremy Lardeau, Vice President, Higg Index at the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, said: “We are excited to release the latest version of our Higg Brand & Retail Module, which marks a major milestone for the SAC. This update is the result of an incredible level of engagement with experts and stakeholders from across the industry, to whom we are truly grateful for the time and input provided. This process has allowed us to better align with existing industry assessment frameworks, and make sure we are addressing the needs and expectations of our members and the industry at large. Our tools must evolve to continuously improve, and while this update is a step in that direction, we will continue to iterate the BRM as the industry progresses, legislation evolves and we continue to gather insights and feedback from BRM users and other stakeholders.”

Maravillas Rodriguez Zarco, Director, Higg Brand & Retail, at the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, said: “The release of the latest version of our Higg Brand & Retail Module is a clear reflection of our mission at the SAC to transform business for exponential impact through groundbreaking tools, collaborative partnerships, and trusted leadership for industry sustainability. From the new assessment structure, to the updated methodology, we are proud of the work we have done to get to this point, we believe the latest version will provide deeper insights and value for brands and retailers and we look forward to continuing supporting them on their sustainability journeys.”

Magnus Dorsch, Head of Corporate Sustainability, About You said:
“The launch of the updated Higg BRM marks a major milestone for the SAC, its members, and the industry at large. We are honored to have contributed to the work that went into the development of the new version. Since joining the SAC in January 2021 and adopting the Higg BRM, we have supported our brand partners in aligning on a unified approach towards sustainable practices, helping them understand where they stand regarding their sustainability journeys and how to continue to support them to improve and drive progress. We believe the updated Higg BRM will serve to help us continue calibrating our ESG strategy to ensure consistency in our progress and reporting and look forward to seeing how it continues to evolve to meet the needs of the industry.”

Sarah Needham, Director of Stakeholder Engagement, Textile Exchange said:
“It is exciting to see the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s investment to move the Higg Brand & Retail Module in this direction, adding crucial updates including biodiversity as a new impact area and moving to closer alignment with our Materials Benchmark program (formally known as Corporate Fiber and Material Benchmark). We are pleased that as a part of the apparel alliance, we can continue to support on progressing our shared goal of moving the industry towards 45% GHG reduction by 2030 by providing a source for raw materials uptake information, and collaborate to streamline reporting across the fashion, apparel and textile industry.”

Klaas Nuttbohm, ZDHC Implementation Director said:
“We are excited for the opportunity to collaborate with the SAC and create greater alignment between the two organizations. The integration of the ZDHC Brands to Zero Assessment (BtZ) into the Higg BRM means a big step forward for both our organizations. This is a major advance for the apparel alliance partners to align the programmes and tools which will lead to the opportunity for our Contributor Brands to benefit from utilizing the BtZ results in the BRM reporting.”

Margreet Vrieling Fair Wear, chair of the Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives Working Group on the CFRPP,  said: “We welcome the efforts of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition to seek closer alignment to the Common Framework for Responsible Purchasing Practices, developed by the MSI working group,  within its Higg Brand & Retail Module. Identifying and assessing the risks and negative impacts of purchasing practices in the buyer-supplier relationship is key to mitigate negative effects on suppliers and workers. By using the responsible purchasing practices as they have been laid down in the Common Framework as input for the BRM responsible purchasing practices questions, the SAC reinforces the importance of collaboration and convergence to drive progress within our industry.”

Karin Ekberg GmbH, Founder & CEO Leadership & Sustainability said:
“The launch of the new BRM module is a great step forward for SAC and its members. It has been a pleasure for us at Leadership & Sustainability to be part of the process to develop the new BRM. As it is now aligned with international ESG standards and expectations, we believe this version will meet market demands, will support brands and retailers to measure and improve their ESG performance as well as communicate their efforts in a transparent and trustworthy manner. Congratulations to the SAC team and all contributing members!”

Brands and retailers can use the Higg BRM to understand their performance in these areas: Environment: climate, water, waste, biodiversity and chemicals; Social: workers, employees, consumers and communities;  Governance: structure and management, ethics and behavior.

The updated Higg BRM is now available for brands and retailers to measure and report on their ESG impacts to understand their progress and  identify areas for improvement with clarity and transparency. If your organization is interested in using the Higg BRM, please find more information here.


– ENDS –

About the Sustainable Apparel Coalition:

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) is an independent and impact-creating organization that aims to lead the industry toward a shared vision of sustainability based upon a joint approach for measuring, evaluating, and improving performance.

As a non-profit organization, it has members from across the apparel, footwear and textile sector, but exists independently outside any one company so that it can drive progress. The SAC’s collective action efforts bring more than 280 global brands, retailers, manufacturers, NGOs, academics and industry associations together. They represent about half of the apparel and footwear industry along the whole supply chain – from sustainability pioneers to organizations just getting started.

Before the SAC existed, companies worked in a siloed way, using their own programs and measurements that lacked standardization and an ability to drive collective action. In 2009, Walmart and Patagonia identified this as a serious problem. Joining forces, they brought together peers and competitors from across the sector, to develop a universal approach to measuring sustainability performance and founded the Sustainable Apparel Coalition.