Patagonia Launch Higg Index

, September 10, 2012

© Patagonia Archives
© Patagonia Archives

When Patagonia founder and owner Yvon Chouinard first mentioned his company’s major involvement in the Sustainable Apparel Coalition in 2008, you knew instantly that something groundbreaking must have been in the brew.

Four years ago, the Californian brand joined Walmart to create a community of like-minded clothing brands in the form of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. The two companies drove their joint quest to ‘Use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis’ by calling the ’21st Century Apparel Leadership Consortium’ in New York.

That event prompted the creation of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, a group that would represent 30% of the of the clothing and apparel sold around the world. Over the past four years, SAC members have included research completed by the North American Outdoor Industry Assocation’s Eco Index to outline their own social and environmental benchmarks, the Higg Index.

Now in development, the Higg Index will be delivered in the form of an open-source tool to be shared by members alongside their products in the form of a retrievable QR code. The Index focuses on measuring intended environmental outcomes from the use and quality of water, energy and greenhouse gases, waste, chemicals and toxic products.

Rick Ridgeway, Coalition Chair and VP of Environmental Programs at Patagonia summarises the situation on environmental and social consumeris, stating, ‘The largest and most influential corporations in apparel and footwear together with leading environmental and social organizations have voluntarily engaged in this collective effort because they recognize the opportunity to get in front of the growing need to measure and manage the environmental and social impacts of their products.’

The Higg Index and SAC’s immediate success hinges on their ability to make an easy to use, transparent tool. To the extent that the SAC can tailor certain levels of detail for trade use, and others for the consumer, they will be able to capture the demand for greater analysis of the supply chain, and mirror relevant information to supply a new incentive for the responsible consumer.

The first version of the Higg Index is available for download on the SAC’s website, at apparelcoalition.org, and is expected to undergo iterations for release in 2013.