With the market for responsible fashion moving beyond innovators and early adopters, brands and retailers are increasingly looking for ways to be more social and sustainable. Innovation around sustainability often comes often from small labels, purposeful suppliers founded on the principle of doing good and specialist NGO’s. To face the urgency of bringing about change and meet the growing demand from consumers, certain established retailers and brands are taking steps by partnering with organizations who bring in topical expertise needed for their change for good.
Shared purpose and impact for long term success
Stella McCartney ♡ Adidas, partners since 2005
In 2005, sportswear specialist Adidas teamed up with eco-friendly fashion designer Stella McCartney to develop activewear combining colourful prints, stylish designs, quality performance and sustainability. Where Adidas brings in technical knowledge, Stella McCartney fills in with knowledge and experience around sustainability.
The collection makes use of a wide range of eco-friendly materials such as organic cotton and recycled yarns, and technological innovations such as the Adidas DryDye technology which allows for dyeing fabric without using water.
In 2015, Adidas teamed up with environmental organization Parley for the Oceans, that addresses threats towards the oceans. Together they developed high-performance Parley Ocean Plastic™ yarn using ocean plastic collected from sea and beaches. This yarn is used in products from both the Adidas and Adidas by Stella McCartney collections.
This strategic partnership between the brands has been successful and recognized throughout both the fashion and the active wear industry. Both Adidas and Stella McCartney offer the joint-collection through online and brick and mortar stores around the world. Good for sales, good for the environment.
Fast fashion retailer H&M also sought to work in partnership with an organisation seeking to protect the environment: the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF). Having looked at the impact of the fashion industry on water flows, and the need of communities for clean, fresh water, H&M entered a partnership with the WWF in 2011, to raise awareness about water stewardship, improve their supply chains and inspire other brands to take action too.
During the first four years of the partnership, the focus was on putting in place systems to bring social, economic and ecological benefits to suppliers and the surrounding ecosystem. Since 2016, the collaboration has intensified with the WWF supporting H&M in the journey to become more sustainable, to move towards circularity and bring about change in the industry. Through their collaboration, the WWF and H&M explore the textile industry’s broader sustainability challenges and opportunities, bringing sustainable and science-based solutions to both H&M and the fashion industry.
In September, H&M launched a collection highlighting their collaboration and raising awareness among consumers about at-risk wildlife. With 10% of the proceeds going back to WWF, they are also giving back for further research and action. Some might argue that the textiles and production processes they used are not environmentally friendly enough, yet doing something is much better than doing nothing.
Through this strategic partnership H&M is showing the industry and consumers that they are taking steps to make a difference. According to a WWF publication, the partnership is also successful for their organisation, and it has inspired other brands, such as Target and Tommy Hilfiger, to follow.
For more info:
- Adidas & Stella McCartney: https://www.stellamccartney.com/experience/en/adidas/
- Adidas & Parley for the Oceans:
- H&M & the WWF:
- Partnership for Good — Part I About partnerships for the cause (marketing, raising awareness)
- Partnership for Good — Part III About partnerships for the good (behind the scenes), coming soon.