MILAN — Patagonia, Levi’s and The North Face are the brands most committed to fashion circularity, according to research by Kearney.
The global management consultancy has released its latest Circular Fashion Index, or CFX, a ranking that measures fashion brands’ efforts to extend the life cycle of their garments.
Compared to the first CFX introduced in 2020, the ranking has expanded its scope this year to assess 150 global brands representing 20 countries and six categories. It was luxury; high-end, affordable luxury; mass market; fast mode; sports and outdoors, and underwear and lingerie.
According to the index, a company’s circularity performance is scored based on seven aspects that affect garment longevity, considering both primary and secondary markets. Examples for the first category include assessing the percentage of recycled fabrics used to make new products or promoting circularity in brand communication, while for the second, second-hand sales, rental and reuse of returned garments were valued. Each aspect was given a score between 1 and 10 and the companies’ overall scores were a combination of these.
The first CFX in 2020 returned an average score of just 1.6 out of 10 for all brands reviewed. Growing consumer and business attention towards the environmental impact of fashion over the past two years influenced the 2022 rankings, which showed slight improvement in the industry registering an average score of 2.97 out of 10 for all brands.
Yet this figure underlined that the road to circularity in fashion is still long.
According to the research, only 7% of brands regularly use recycled materials, 54% of companies only use them for a few select items or product features, while 39% use no recycled materials at all. Even though communicating and promoting circularity efforts is among the fastest measures to implement, 44% of brands do not do it at all and 40% of companies provide the minimum care instructions required by the law.
When it comes to stocks requiring higher engagement, only 5% – mostly luxury brands – offer extended repair services and only 2% of brands offer rental or leasing services, for example.
Patagonia, Levi’s and The North Face recorded scores of 8.50, 8.20 and 8.05 respectively, improving their performance over 2020. Some implementations propelled growth, such as Patagonia’s equipment rental program with the Awayco equipment rental platform and the increased use of recycled fabrics.
In the global top 10, Esprit came fourth, followed by OVS, Gucci, Gant, Coach, Lululemon Athletica and Lindex.
In particular, OVS and Gucci have improved their scores, rising respectively from the 17th and 15th positions they had in 2020, to the fifth and sixth this year.
OVS has increased its commitment to recycled fabrics, starting from a 65% share of the 2020 collection made with reduced impact materials and aiming to reach 90% recycled fabrics by 2025. Improved care instructions , repair services available in select stores and pre-donation of clothing belonging to charities were among other achievements that boosted the Italian brand’s score.
Gucci, which intensified its efforts with the Gucci Equilibrium and Off the Grid projects, as well as reinforced communication around the longevity and circularity of products, led the top 10 for the luxury category in particular, ranking ahead of Coach and Burberry. Other luxury companies on the list were Louis Vuitton, Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Dior, Prada and Hermès.
Gant topped the premium and affordable luxury ranking, followed by Cos and Sandro. The Kooples and Tommy Hilfiger ranked fourth and fifth respectively, while the top 10 in this segment also included Free People, Hollister, Abercrombie & Fitch, Ralph Lauren and Timberland.
The ranking for the mass market included Levi’s, Esprit and OVS, while Crocs and Uniqlo were in fifth and seventh positions respectively.
In the field of fast-fashion, Jules/Brice, Tape à l’oeil and H&M posted the three best scores. Zara and Bershka placed seventh and eighth respectively.
For the sports and outdoor segment, Lululemon Athletica ranked third, after Patagonia and The North Face. Other companies in this ranking were Columbia, Decathlon, New Balance, Adidas, Nike, Mizuno and Merrell.
As for the brands of underwear and lingerie, Etam, Wolford and Intimissimi show the three best scores. Calzedonia, Yamamay and Victoria’s Secret also made the list in this category, ranking fifth, seventh and eighth respectively.
Overall, luxury and premium brands recorded the highest scores due to their extensive care instructions and repair services implemented to cater to the most demanding consumers, while fast brands -fashion and lingerie received the lowest scores due to the nature of their business model and because second-hand or rental services are more difficult to introduce into these segments.
Nearly 75% of the total brands came from France, Italy, Germany and the United States. Although France had no mark in the top 10, it recorded the highest average score among these countries – 3.65 out of 10 – followed by Italy. Even though the US is home to the top three global CFX brands, it ranked third as a number of underperforming labels brought their average score down to 2.95.