Cascale and Fair Wear Announce Strategic Collaboration

  • Partnership and Collaboration

New collaboration to catalyze the industry towards impactful due diligence

Photo of a group of people stood around a table working collaboratively
March 28, 2024

Amsterdam, Hong Kong, Oakland (CA) – March  28, 2024: Cascale, the global nonprofit alliance formerly known as the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, and Fair Wear, an independent nonprofit multi-stakeholder initiative that works to improve conditions for workers in garment factories, have announced a strategic collaboration. The core purpose of the collaboration is to promote human and labor rights.

“Power imbalances in the consumer goods industry can often result in both human rights and environmental risks and violations in supply chains,” said Andrew Martin, executive vice president at Cascale. “More equitable partnerships are not only desirable but are a necessary driving force for continuous improvement in responsible business conduct, and effective due diligence has a pivotal role to play in delivering this. With our membership, representing over 300 organizations in the consumer goods industry, and Fair Wear’s expertise, we work collaboratively to expand and scale the systemic change needed to address the human rights challenges we face.”

“With 25 years of experience in what is now known as human rights due diligence, Fair Wear knows that industry alignment is a condition for real impact on workers,” said Alexander Kohnstamm, executive director at Fair Wear. “Now that legislation is a fact, we are ready to provide Cascale members with Fair Wear’s knowledge and solutions to facilitate impactful due diligence. This collaboration is a great step in raising the bar for human rights in global garment supply chains.”

The industry’s fragmented nature undermines efforts to ensure unified due diligence implementation. Cascale and Fair Wear agree that meaningful change requires collaboration. Therefore, they will work with Worldly, the leader in environmental and social impact data for the apparel and footwear industry, to jointly provide their members with high-quality, reliable resources and guidance. These resources will help navigate the complexities of human rights due diligence effectively, leveraging tools such as Cascale’s Higg Index.

Fair Wear and Cascale have been working to drive sustainability in the apparel and textile industry for decades, collaborating and aligning on several initiatives related to responsible business practices. Both organizations have jointly emphasized and advocated for the critical importance of mandatory due diligence legislation as a catalyst for industry-wide impact. Furthermore, the organizations have actively supported the European Commission’s Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CS3D), a recently approved Directive in European Union law that requires due diligence for companies to prevent adverse social and environmental impacts across their value chains. Cascale and Fair Wear welcome the recent approval of CS3D by the Council, as well as the recent approval vote in the European Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI). Together, they eagerly await the European Parliament’s plenary vote to adopt the Directive, expected in April 2024. This vote is expected to contribute to the establishment of a comprehensive framework for sustainable practices in the industry.

Moreover, both organizations understand the urgent need for aligning due diligence efforts with international standards, such as the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains in the Garment & Footwear Sector (OECD Guidelines). This is especially important given the developments in Human Rights and Environmental Due Diligence (HREDD) legislation, such as the EU CS3D. Through this collaboration, Fair Wear and Cascale will help brands meet existing and upcoming legislative requirements.


About Cascale

Cascale is the global nonprofit alliance catalyzing collective action toward equitable and restorative business practices in the consumer goods industry. Spanning 300 retailers, brands, manufacturers, governments, academics, industry associations, and nonprofits across 37 countries, we are united by a singular vision to give back more than we take for people and the planet. Cascale’s membership includes apparel, footwear, home furnishings, sporting and outdoor goods, and bags and luggage companies.

Formerly known as the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, Cascale owns and develops the Higg Index. Initially formed to create standardized sustainability metrics, Cascale has sharpened its focus to driving pre-competitive collective action for a unified industry transformation. As an independent entity, Cascale brings together brands, retailers, manufacturers, NGOs, academics, and industry associations to combat climate change, ensure decent work, and contribute to a nature-positive future.

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About Fair Wear

Fair Wear’s mission is to achieve a world where workers’ rights are realised through freedom of association and social dialogue. We want to see the global garment supply chain as a source of safe, dignified and decently paid employment. As a multi-stakeholder initiative, we have connected and convened brands, factories, workers, trade unions, NGOs and other industry influencers, and built strong multi-stakeholder networks across the whole value chain for the past 25 years. Utilising each of their unique leverage, we demonstrate how impactful OECD-aligned HRDD implementation can positively change the lives of the people who make our clothes.

TAL Apparel

  • Manufacturers

Read why TAL Apparel uses Higg Index tools and believes in equal partnership.

TAL Apparel logo
Workers in a Tal Apparel factory assembling an order, wearing blue shirts with orange collars.
February 07, 2024

TAL Apparel

“The more people asking for the same tool, the better. The same language, the convergence – it’s incredibly important. Our strategic mills are definitely also using the Higg Index suite of tools and then hopefully they push it up as well. ”

— Delman Lee, Vice Chair, TAL Apparel

TAL Apparel is one manufacturer using the Higg Index suite of tools across its factory footprint. For the Vietnam-based manufacturer, all eight factories use the tools for advancing social and environmental performance. Sustainability is one vital value driver in TAL’s business operations, according to vice chair Delman Lee.

In a January interview with the SAC, Lee explained why TAL (a founding SAC member) continues to see value in membership including upholding principles like equal partnership and representation.

“As a manufacturer, we don’t participate in many multi-stakeholder initiatives because we’re a small team, and there are a lot of multi-stakeholder initiatives. There are two reasons. Even right at the outset, the SAC’s approach to driving change is impressive. On the technical side, even 12 or 14 years ago, they introduced the idea of facility, environmental performance, product performance, and brand performance. There are multi-dimensions of sustainability which is a technical aspect that was pretty comprehensive at the time. And then the second reason is they involve partners across the supply chain. Manufacturers are actually at those tables. There are manufacturers talking about how to make the change.”

He argued many multi-stakeholder initiatives today are brand-led and dominated. “Manufacturers are told to do something or rarely consulted. A lot of the social and environmental issues are in the plant, so it’s always good to involve the people doing the change in the discussion about change,” he added.

Though the SAC, too, has faced challenges in engaging its wide array of stakeholders, Lee said intentional partnership is at least foundational.

A second-term SAC board member, Lee explained the importance of equal partnership. “We call this an equal partnership principle which has been instilled in SAC from the beginning, and that’s why you see a third of the board comprises brands and retailers, a third is manufacturers, and a third is affiliates. It’s in the governance model. That’s why it’s made so much progress and why it appeals to manufacturers to be part of this coalition.”