Sustainable Apparel Coalition 2023 Annual Meeting Calls for Industry Evolution

  • Annual Meeting
Amina Razvi, SAC Annual Meeting 2023
October 04, 2023

San Francisco, Amsterdam, Hong Kong – October 4, 2023: More than 500 in-person and virtual attendees joined the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) for its Annual Meeting on September 26 in Boston, MA. Reflecting the theme Evolution for Impact, the event brought together stakeholders from across the fashion and apparel value chain to discuss and explore opportunities for the industry to deepen collaborations in order to drive true and lasting impact for people and planet. Sponsors included Target Corporation, Lululemon, REN Energy, and Worldly, an impact intelligence platform that is the exclusive licensee of the Higg Index tools.

Announcements at the 2023 SAC Annual Meeting included a collaboration with the International Apparel Federation to accelerate efforts towards advancing equitable and sustainable global supply chains in the apparel and fashion industry, the new Manufacturer Climate Action Program (MCAP) enabling manufacturers to start their decarbonization journey, and results from an independent review of the Higg Index, a set of tools that empower designers, brands, retailers, and manufacturers, to use life cycle assessment data to make informed decisions and create more sustainable products. The SAC also shared strategies in support of its revised strategic plan, which was announced at New York Climate Week.

The Annual Meeting began with an opening address from Amina Razvi, Chief Executive Officer of the SAC, who reaffirmed the critical importance of collaboration to achieve industry goals that include a 45% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. “​​Together we share an extraordinary opportunity and a profound responsibility for our industry and beyond to deliver the necessary changes and accelerate progress,” she said. “The question is no longer just about intent – it’s about tangible results.” Razvi also announced that through the SAC’s Decarbonization Plan more than half of SAC members have either set or committed to set Science-Based Targets (SBTs) for GHG reduction, which became a requirement of membership in 2023.

Following an insightful keynote address by nature and biodiversity expert Helen Crowley, Managing Director at Pollination, details of the SAC’s new strategic direction were shared on a plenary panel with Jeremy Lardeau, Vice President, Higg Index at the SAC; Dr. Delman Lee, Vice Chair at TAL Apparel Limited and Immediate Past Chair at the SAC; Krishna Manda, Vice President Corporate Sustainability at Lenzing Group and SAC Vice Chair, Manufacturer Category; and Sean Cady, Vice President Global Sustainability, Responsibility, Trade, and Government Affairs at VF Corporation and SAC Board Director. At the Annual Meeting, the ensuing presentations and discussions delved deeper into the three pillars—Combat Climate Change, Decent Work for All, and Nature Positive Future—that underpin the SAC’s revised strategic plan. Among many others, they included:

  • Scott Raskin, CEO of Worldly, joined Amina Razvi for a fireside chat about the importance of partnership to achieve industry goals. “Not one of us is as smart as all of us,” he said. “Our great partnership with SAC continues – we believe in the Higg Index and constantly improving it; as well as constantly improving the experience of customers utilizing the full range of tools, capabilities, and partnerships Worldly has to offer.”
  • Liam Salter, CEO of RESET Carbon; Sarah O’Brien, CEO of the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council; Matthew Guenther, Director, Environmental Sustainability at TAL Apparel Limited; and Mitsuko Wong, Sustainability Lead, Product & Supply Chain at Ralph Lauren Corporation, discussed an emerging program, on which the SAC is also a partner, that aims to drive systematic decarbonization by focusing on the 1,500 suppliers who are responsible for 78% of emissions in the industry. “Time is critical,” said Salter. “We need to move fast and build on existing relationships, leverage the data we have, and move forward together.”
  • Jeremy Lardeau, SAC Vice President, Higg Index; Alexander Kohnstamm, Executive Director of Fair Wear; Mariette van Amstel, Head of Membership at Fair Wear, and James Schaffer, Chief Strategy Officer at Worldly shared an update on their collaborative work on a new Responsible Purchasing Practices due diligence framework. “The power imbalance between brands and manufacturers also translates to the power imbalance between manufacturers and workers,” Kohnstamm said. “Collaboration, common standards, and common pathways are key.”
  • Lisa Domoney, SAC Senior Director, Membership & Corporate Engagement; Janet Mensink, Executive Director of the Social & Labor Convergence Program; Abhishek Bansal, Vice President, Sustainability at Arvind Limited; and Mostafiz Uddin, Managing Director at Denim Expert Ltd. and Founder and CEO of the Bangladesh Apparel Exchange, discussed Occupational Health and Safety in terms of Human Resources standards and the importance of bringing all partners together to tackle issues of social audit duplicity. “Every resource spent on duplication is a resource taken away from improvement,” Bansal said. “Every measure you take becomes twice as effective if you have good management systems.”
  • Joël Mertens, SAC Director, Higg Product Tools; Ipek Kurtoglu Firat, Global Product Impact Lead, Sustainability at H&M Group; and John Armstrong, Chief Technology Officer at Worldly, discussed the evolution of the Higg Product Tools and their impact on manufacturers, brands, and retailers. “Our goal is beyond compliance – we want to be driving to a higher purpose,” Mertens said. “Better data to drive better choices to drive industry impact.”
  • Andrew Martin, SAC Executive Vice President; Joyce Tsoi, SAC Director, Collective Action Programs; Krishna Manda, Vice President Corporate Sustainability at Lenzing Group and SAC Vice Chair; Scott Vitters, Senior Director, Responsible Supply Chain (Environment) at Nike, Inc.; and Sandra Durrant, Senior Director of Environmental Sustainability and Traceability at Target Corporation, joined together to announce the Manufacturer Climate Action Program (MCAP). “The MCAP will be helpful for the SAC and the industry because we can have a harmonized way of measuring and setting SBTs,” Manda said. “Something as simple as a standardized baseline will be so impactful and reduce confusion. The process of improvement is complex enough; we need to align on how we are asking and tracking progress so we can focus on doing the work that drives impact.” He emphasized, “The importance of co-creation for roadmaps by manufacturers and brands, which needs to consider regional context of energy landscape and value chain related differences, and the central role of equity and inclusion to reach industry’s target of 45% GHG emissions reduction by 2030.”
  • Bryant LaPres, Senior Director of Industry Engagement at the Apparel Impact Institute, Shari Friedman, Managing Director at Eurasia Group, and Steffen Mueller, Programme Director of Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) through a recorded statement, shared news of the GIZ PDP Rooftop Solar Panel Initiative, a collaboration with SAC and GIZ that aims to increase the adoption of renewable energy technologies with SAC Corporate Members and their suppliers. “The why has to be based in mutual agreement, a shared vision – that has to be the foundation,” LaPres said. “Partnerships are crucial.”

At the event, the SAC also announced newly elected Board members Harsh Saini, Executive Vice President, Group Sustainability & Govt/Public Affairs at the Fung Group, and Amanda Tucker, Vice President of Responsible Sourcing and Sustainability at Target Corporation, as well as newly seated Board leadership: Chair Tamar Hoek, Senior Policy Director Sustainable Fashion at Solidaridad Network; Vice Chair Krishna Manda, Vice President of Sustainability at Lenzing Group; and Amanda Tucker, who will serve as Secretary. The Annual Meeting was powered by Global Fashion Agenda, which hosted the Global Fashion Summit on September 27, also in Boston.

Shyla Raghav, TIME’s Chief Climate Officer, delivered an inspirational final keynote. “Climate change is transitioning from a niche function to a core one,” she said. “The future of the fashion and apparel industry is already here – it’s here in this room.”

The 2023 SAC Annual Meeting online photo gallery is available here and a video recap is viewable here. The 2024 SAC Annual Meeting will be held in Munich, Germany.


– ENDS –

About the Sustainable Apparel Coalition:

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) is a global, non-profit alliance of over 280 organizations in the apparel, footwear, and textile industry. Initially formed to create standardized sustainability metrics, the SAC has sharpened its focus to driving pre-competitive, collective action across three foundational pillars. As an independent entity, the SAC brings together brands, retailers, manufacturers, NGOs, academics, and industry associations to combat climate change, ensure decent work, and contribute to a nature-positive future. Central to the SAC’s mission is the Higg Index, a suite of comprehensive tools that empower members to measure, evaluate, and improve sustainability performance across the supply chain.

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