The luxury fashion industry is notorious for its lack of transparency when it comes to its social impact throughout its production chain. There are most likely multiple defenses ready to explain away the smoke and mirrors that surround their practices. While some may be more understandable, others are hard to look over, such as sacrificing people for profit. The reality is that at the end of the day, most reasons still fall short given the financial resources at the disposal of the big luxury goods groups.
Chloé has started to develop a tool to help with this lack of transparency. The luxury fashion label is in the process of creating a social impact tool to measure, evaluate and visualize the effects of the industry. This Social Impact Measurement tool or Social Performance and Leverage (SP&L), as it is called, will be made available to the whole industry by making it an open-source methodology. With the creation of this tool, the aim is to give fashion companies guidance for the future of sourcing and product design.
As a reflection of the brand’s manifesto, the SP&L is meant to aid in its long-term commitment to uplift women, eradicate gender-based inequalities and promote inclusivity, ultimately developing products that have a positive impact on people throughout its production.
The SP&L works together with the Environmental Impact Report published on Chloé’s website back in July of 2021. It will also mobilize social auditing and integrate risk analysis. These measurements contribute to the holistic evaluation of the social and environmental impact of the brand, which is a key element of its sustainability strategy.
The new measuring methodology is an industry and academic collaboration between Chloé, Institut Français de la Mode and the Foresight and Sustainable Development Department of the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers. To develop the tool’s metrics the trio used sustainable value creation reports published by the World Economic Forum and International Business Council and the methodology is currently under review by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
The tool aims to guarantee working conditions maintain positive social practices. These are divided into six indicators: gender equality, a living wage, diversity and inclusion, training, well-being and job quality. These parameters will help brands to understand and see their impact on the people working directly on their products, from start to finish, including both in-house employees and subcontracted workers.
The Maison determines the “Job Quality” indicator through specific milestones and skillsets, namely tenure, pay progression, promotion, turnover and use of soft skills, including active listening, coordination, responsibility, and group work.
This project has been in development for 18 months and is now entering a more advanced stage of the process. In January, Chloé already carried out a section analysis of its Spring 2022 ready-to-wear collection. Next up, an industry-wide consultation process is scheduled for later in the year, which will have participating brands carry out pilot schemes to test the methodology and implement updates if needed. The full launch of the SP&L methodology is slated for 2023.
While this might be the first methodology for fashion companies themselves to use in-house to assess its social impact throughout its entire chain, there are assessment programs that also awards brands according to their social impact, among other markers. For example, with the Positive Luxury ESG+ Assessment Framework, brands get awarded “The Butterfly Mark.” This framework looks not only at the social impact that a brand has throughout its production chain, but also the environmental impact, the legislative compliance, and innovation.
The tool embodies both Chloé’s purpose-driven model and the brand mission: Women Forward For A Fairer Future.