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New Tech Platform Makes Sustainability ‘Common Objective’ for Fashion Companies

Not-for-profit Ethical Fashion Forum (EFF) organized collaborative efforts in the clothing and textiles industry for over a decade before creating a complementary corporation, the Ethical Fashion Group, and launching the new Common Objective (CO) platform to facilitate industry connections and drive sustainability. | Image credit: Common Objective (CO) / Ethical Fashion Forum (EFF)

A new digital platform aims to make sustainable business decisions easier for the fashion industry. By matching actors along the supply chain and providing data-driven, solutions-focused information, Common Objective (CO) hopes to improve the day-to-day practices of textiles and clothing companies around the world.

While the fashion world and the media have long embraced sustainability as a concept, the global clothing industry still has a very long way to go in improving its social and environmental impacts. The use and pollution of natural resources continues to be overwhelming. Up until now there have been too many gaps in knowledge and not enough industry collaboration to make significant change.

In 2018, 1 in 8 people in the world work in fashion and textiles and 192 million people across the globe are still in vulnerable and/or insecure work. The industry uses 12,400 Olympic swimming pools worth of oil each year and 83 percent of the world’s water is polluted with microplastics, of which the fashion industry is responsible for a third.

Yet, only 2.2 percent of factories participate in some kind of ethical or sustainable initiative or recognized certification.

CO is the first free global connection tool for the fashion industry and was developed by the Ethical Fashion Group in collaboration with the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS), Fairtrade, World Fairtrade Organisation (WFTO), Fashion Revolution, and other leading fashion industry bodies.

The group calls CO “the most practical response to date to the negative environmental impact and human cost of the global fashion sector and provides essential help and guidance for fashion professionals.” The site was developed by a network of fashion professionals from across the supply chain committed to doing business better and making changes for good.

The CO platform is intended to:

  1. Act as a fundamental tool that makes it easier for all fashion professionals and businesses to do business better - to find the right suppliers, grow their sales base, and get their products right - whether or not they are interested in sustainability.
  2. Match users based on their specified needs, with suppliers, buyers, experts and resources, so that they can achieve their goals and save time and money.
  3. Reward sustainability by assigning weights to several elements of CO business profiles that impacts search ranking on the site. In this way, businesses that can demonstrate robust ethical and sustainability credentials benefit from increased visibility on the site and more connections with potential customers.

To support the launch of CO, the Ethical Fashion Group has mapped the size and impact of the fashion industry – drawing from over 500 sources including the Pulse Report, the Fashion Transparency Index, market research data and production data – thus providing clear reference points for improvements across the supply chain. This new research traces the provenance of garments from cotton pickers to retailers, from factories to our wardrobes, and identifies opportunities for better business practices. The research will be updated, expanded, and republished regularly on the CO platform.

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“CO is about Impact. Our goal is to transform the way fashion business is done – changing lives for millions of people in supply chains, on a global scale,” said Harold Tillman, Chairman of Ethical Fashion Group and a former Chair of the British Fashion Council.

“Everyone working in the fashion industry is invited and encouraged to join and connect with potential customers, suppliers and collaborators, access the expertise and information to succeed sustainably in fashion, and make a material difference.”

Founding investors and partners in CO include Tillman, Roland Mouret, Vivienne Westwood, Adjuno, suppliers Mantis World and Plexus Cotton Group, and a number of others.

Ethical Fashion Group claims that thousands of other fashion professionals have also begun using the CO platform to make connections and find information, including individuals from some of the world’s largest brands, such as Target, Kering, Stella McCartney, PVH, H&M, and Levi’s, as well as leading suppliers such as Arvind (producers for Tommy Hilfiger, Banana Republic), SOKO Kenya (producers for ASOS), and Artisan Fashion (producers for Vivienne Westwood and Stella McCartney).

“Our Common Objective is a world in which business works better for everyone. And the planet. CO is an innovative and practical solution to the challenges we face as an industry,” said Ethical Fashion Group CEO Tamsin Lejeune. “We’re providing global sourcing and networking with a massive reach – and refining it with intelligent technology that helps users make more sustainable decisions.”

Launched in 2006, Sustainable Brands has become a global learning, collaboration, and commerce community of forward-thinking business and brand strategy, marketing, innovation and sustainability professionals who are leading the way to a better future. We recognize that brands today have… [Read more about Sustainable Brands]

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