Can Farfetch’s Eco-Label Answer Call for 65 Percent of Consumers Amid Industry Setbacks?

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Farfetch and consumer ratings platform Good On You launched a transparency tool called “Good Measures” on Wednesday.

Today, more than 3,500 brands are rated on Good On You’s existing public-facing web and mobile platform, and companies like Farfetch, Yoox Net-a-porter and Microsoft employ its ratings. The platform maps over 500 data points culled from independent standards and certifications, third-party indices (such as those from Fashion Revolution and the Carbon Disclosure Project) and brand-provided public data.

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This data forms the backbone of the Good Measures tool where companies will be able to view their rating in full, see customized guidance for improvement from expert organizations, submit new public information to be re-rated by Good On You and try to qualify for Farfetch’s Conscious Collection. Brands can qualify for Farfetch’s Conscious Collection if scoring three (out of five) or higher on Good On You, depending on company size. Good On You ranks brands on a five-point scale (lower is worse and five is considered great) across categories for people, planet and animal welfare. Farfetch further classifies products with its “Positively Conscious” label based on a combination of Good On You data, material breakdown, certifications and pre-owned credentials.

Sandra Capponi, cofounder of Good On You, said the tool is not about “reinventing the wheel,” but rather is meant to stand up as a more “unified” and entrusted view of sustainability for brands, one which weighs public access to info as king.

To that, Thomas Berry, the senior director of Sustainable Business at Farfetch, underlined the goal to provide customers — and the industry — with better fashion intel that meets their increasing sustainability preferences.

Asked why Good Measures would better ward off greenwashing claims in light of recent setbacks for sustainability tools, Berry pointed it back to Good On You’s differentiation in public scorecards and added, “The current debate seems to be focused on the legitimacy of very specific environmental, quantitative data points, and more broadly on the application of good sustainability claims practice in relation to products, which inevitably requires both detail and transparency.”

For now, Good Measures is free to all 1,400 of Farfetch’s brand partners as the tool rolls out. Later this year, Good Measures will launch publicly for the rest of the fashion industry and brands can apply on Good On You’s website in the interim. Good On You will use feedback after the first six months to understand value, making any cost adjustments.

In a Tuesday report from Fordham’s Gabelli School of Business’ Responsible Business Coalition, some 500 U.S. consumers indicated their level of preference for fashion sustainability, and eco-labels are getting a lot of love.

While, predictably, shoppers are seeking sustainability-marketed apparel in greater droves, they are also seeking the labels to prove it (after “recyclability,” of course, which was the top demand driver). Most consumers (or 65 percent) desire eco-labels attached directly to garments they are considering purchasing. This information, according to the survey, can appear on a brand label, the price tag, or both. As it relates to online shopping, 44 percent of respondents said they’d prefer an eco-label in the form of a sustainability icon on the website, a website filter or both.

However, the industry isn’t all there yet.

Earlier this week, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition paused a major brand-backed transparency program — which was the closest working model of a sustainability label for fashion. H&M and Norrøna were among the brands given a slap on the wrist by The Norwegian Consumer Authority.

Lerzan Aksoy, Ph.D., lead author of the report and associate dean of strategic initiatives at Fordham University’s Gabelli School of Business, provided context for the crossroads eco-label enthusiasts are finding themselves at.

“Sustainability metrics that matter for government and investors are likely to differ substantially from those desired by consumers,” Aksoy told WWD. Referring to recently published research she co-authored in the Journal of Service Management, Aksoy underlined the findings of how customer perceptions of corporate heroes are often a mismatch by reported ESG gains.

“​​While we know much more than we did five years ago, the biggest barrier is that the science is still being developed. We have seen something similar in the history of nutrition claims — these things take time to be codified. Ultimately, an agreed upon rulemaking body is going to have to set the appropriate criteria for making sustainability claims,” she added. “But we cannot use this as an excuse to wait. We should be able to report on issues that are unambiguous and important to customers, such as recyclability and plastic content (e.g., polyester, acrylic and nylon textiles).”

Without question, Aksoy believes the fashion industry and regulatory bodies need to arrive at a consensus of how to measure and report on sustainability metrics.

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