Building Supplier Capacity with Upgraded Social and Environmental Practices
Wrangler manufactures about 60 percent of its apparel in company-owned facilities. We have robust processes in place addressing environmental and social metrics within those facilities and at our contract manufacturers. In 2015, we instituted a new approach to promote continuous improvement and capacity building within our supply chain.
Our goal is to help suppliers understand the key issues facing the industry, learn to track and measure impacts, and ultimately improve on their performance. Wrangler’s three-step engagement program encompasses:
An introduction to broad sustainability concepts via an on-line training video. The module covers how the apparel sector is transforming and how Wrangler and its suppliers can work together to advance industry practices.
Surveys covering environmental and social performance are provided annually to all Wrangler suppliers. We include our Tier 2 fabric mills, where our greatest environmental impacts occur when dying fabric.
Detailed webinars or in-person meetings with global Tier 1 and 2 suppliers delve into survey topics such as cotton sourcing and water and energy efficiency. In 2016, Asian suppliers attended a day-long, in-person session while suppliers in the western hemisphere participated in a two-hour webinar.
In 2016, we surveyed 90% of our suppliers with 87% responding. All key suppliers representing 95% of our portfolio by mass participated. This is an increase from 2015, the first year of the initiative, when we reached, 78% of our suppliers with 85% of those taking part. Our efforts to educate suppliers beforehand helped to increase our reach.
To create survey questions that zero in on the particular practices in the apparel industry, we leveraged our membership in The Sustainability Consortium (TSC), a global non-profit organization that creates tools to address impacts across product and supply networks. TSC brings together experts to identify the sustainability impacts of specific industries. Using TSC’s science-based Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), Wrangler will query suppliers annually on their water and energy use, the impacts of sourcing cotton or polyester materials, and dyeing practices, among other issues.
These questions help us communicate shared priorities to our suppliers and highlight the improvement opportunities that are unique to our business. The KPIs also serve as a focal point for developing supplier capabilities and strengthening our supplier network.
Working within Our Industry
Many of the opportunities to reduce environmental and social impacts that Wrangler is pursuing are common across our industry. To collaborate in fostering the transition to sustainable practices, apparel brands, retailers, manufacturers, and others formed the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), a trade organization working to improve global practices within the apparel and footwear industry.
Our parent company, VF, is a founding member of the SAC and has been instrumental in the development of SAC’s Higg Index, a suite of assessment tools that help companies evaluate the environmental sustainability performance of apparel and footwear products. Wrangler uses the Higg Index to examine materials, facilities, processes and products under different environmental and product design choices. This helps us determine where we should focus our efforts across the life cycle of our products - from the sourcing of materials to manufacturing, packaging, transportation and final garment use. Wrangler successfully integrated two key industry frameworks, using the Higg Index as a platform to help suppliers respond to the KPI survey questions developed by TSC.