Responsible Fashion Starts in the Forest

Responsible Fashion Starts in the Forest

The fashion industry has the power to shift its innovation dynamics to responsibility.

In the ever-evolving landscape of fashion, sustainability is no longer a mere trend; it’s a defining trait. As the fashion-conscious global citizens that we are, it is time to pivot our focus toward a brighter, greener future with thriving forests. And there are some companies that are spearheading the sustainable fashion transformation.

We are proud to be a part of the original film series, Fashion Redressed, presented by the Global Fashion Agenda and produced by BBC StoryWorks. This series shines a spotlight on sustainable fashion, profiling the innovations and innovators that are leading fashion forward, with a particular focus on the crucial role of eco-friendly materials in our industry.

Watch our Episode: The footwear with a new spring in its step

Our film features IceBug, the Swedish shoe manufacturer, and their use of FSC-certified natural rubber in their shoe production, sourced from responsibly managed forests. It is a compelling story of passion and responsibility, using innovation to find a more sustainable source for rubber. So, gear up fashion enthusiasts because this episode is not to be missed!

Kim walking

From Forests to Footwear: Rubber that’s Better for Forests and People

The true cost of fashion extends far beyond the wardrobe as it can sometimes carry a significant environmental price tag. Textile manufacturing, particularly in the production of footwear, releases large amounts of carbon dioxide and introduces toxins and chemicals into our ecosystem.

Forests offer a promising solution to mitigate the environmental impact of the footwear industry. However, for this solution to be effective, we must ensure that forests not only endure but flourish despite the rising demand for their products. Responsible forest management is imperative to achieving this goal.

Natural rubber plays a dominant role in the fashion world, and footwear brands are increasingly embracing sustainability by responsibly sourcing this essential material. However, the production of natural rubber can inadvertently harm forests, ecosystems, communities, and workers when plantations are mismanaged. This mismanagement can lead to deforestation and human rights violations.

An estimated 85 per cent of the world’s natural rubber supply is derived from smallholders who work in tropical forests, with Thailand, Indonesia, China, and West Africa serving as their primary strongholds. The intricate supply chain, involving numerous intermediaries, often obscures the rubber’s origin and the forest-management practices involved. 

While natural rubber holds an environmentally friendly appeal, its sustainability hinges on responsible sourcing. Extracting natural rubber from uncertified forests carries the risk of contributing to deforestation and human rights abuses.

FSC certification is not just a symbol; it’s a commitment to nurturing our forests

As consumers and stakeholders increasingly hold companies accountable for their supply chains, these issues pose significant risks to supply chain security and integrity. By collaborating with smallholders and communities, FSC is paving the way to make certification more accessible, with improved conditions and enhanced traceability throughout the supply chain.

More global footwear brands are taking the lead by adopting FSC-certified rubber. When a brand chooses FSC certification, it guarantees that the products they source, make, or sell have been crafted with the utmost regard for the health and vitality of our forests.

FSC certification verifies companies’ commitment to environmental sustainability and improving the lives of people throughout the supply chain. In the footwear industry, it gives them and their consumers the confidence that the natural rubber they are using adheres to FSC’s standards, which put forests and people first.

We are committed to transforming the fashion industry for a more sustainable future, which is why we launched the Fashion Forever Green Pact. This pact builds on efforts by stakeholders in the sustainability space, such as Canopy’s Canopy Style Initiative. 

Learn more about how you can obtain your FSC certification or licensing here. Your journey towards sustainable sourcing starts now.

Source: FSC News October 2, 2023