CFDA Wants to Clean Up Fashion Industry with Clean by Design Initiative

The Council of Fashion Designers of America has joined forces with the National Resources Defense Council on Clean by Design, a program seeking to significantly reduce the fashion industry’s environmental impact. 

CFDA Wants to Clean Up Fashion Industry with Clean by Design Initiative

CFDA president Diane von Furstenberg, Vogue‘s Anna Wintour, Vanity Fair‘s Graydon Carter and a host of industry professionals including Calvin Klein‘s Francisco Costa, Tory Burch, Zac Posen, Theory’s Andrew RosenNanette Lepore, Derek Lam and Joseph Altuzarra joined Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) at a breakfast yesterday to outline the initiative.

“This is such an opportunity for all of us — as an industry, as New Yorkers, as people who do an extraordinary job in creating economic growth — to join with the NRDC to take on this mission, which I think is unprecedented, and really herald a new era of what social change can be done by industry,” Gillibrand said.

One of Clean by Design’s goals is to get designers, retailers and brands to better understand their chain of supply and promote factory improvements. Those in attendance were shown a video depicting a Chinese river polluted by dyes with the statement that next season’s colors will be dictated by the colors of China’s rivers.

“We have found opportunities to reduce impact, using means that actually save the factories money, with process efficiency improvements that win-win, so to speak,” said Linda Greer, director of NRDC’s health and environment program. “The era of operating without knowledge of your factories abroad is ending, and the curtain is rising above the sorts of problems and aspirations that we have abroad.”

Anna Carter, a trustee of the NRDC, added, “It takes as much as 200 tons of water to produce 1 ton of fabric. Since less than 1 percent of the world’s water is drinkable, and our demand for it is on track to double over the next 40 years, this is an issue we need to address. We would be much more effective if we address it together.”

To that end, the NRDC developed its 10 Best Practices, low-cost solutions to reduce water, electricity and energy usage; from leak detection and maintenance in factories to recovering heat from smoke stacks. For every ton of fabric produced, these 10 practices can cut water usage by up to 23% and fuel usage by up to 32%.

PPR and one of its holdings Stella McCartney have already signed on to Clean by Design, though McCartney totally phoned it in; literally.  While she couldn’t make the breakfast, she sent along a video acknowledging her support. [WWD, sub req'd]