In brief

In brief

  • The need for product-level transparency on sustainability for the fashion industry has never been more critical.
  • The fashion industry has a significant opportunity to build trust and make it easier for consumers to make more sustainable choices.
  • The Impact Index—a standardized, industry solution—is a first step to defining trusted product-level sustainability claims.
  • The opportunity to close the gap between what brands are doing now to communicate sustainability data and what consumers want is clear.


Driving sustainability in retail fashion

Mounting pressure from consumers and investors, combined with government regulation, has accelerated the need for product-level transparency on sustainability for the retail fashion industry. The textile sector alone has more than 100 certification schemes and labels. And yet, half of the consumers in the Accenture Sustainable Fashion Survey cited vague, misleading, or difficult to understand sustainability and ethical impact claims as a deterrent for considering the sustainability of an apparel item in their purchasing decision.

By aligning around a harmonized approach for communicating product-level sustainability information, the industry has a significant opportunity to build trust and help consumers make more sustainable choices. And that’s where the Impact Index comes in—a standardized, industry-wide label to define trusted product-level sustainability claims.

The Impact Index for fashion

Find out how the retail fashion industry can help consumers make more sustainable choices through a new approach to product-level sustainability data.

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Communicating to retail fashion consumers

There are three key challenges that fashion retailers face when defining their sustainability claims.

01 Defining product-level sustainability

Consumers navigating sustainability claims is hard. Aligning on industry-wide reporting can build trust and help consumers make good choices.

02 Understanding the certification landscape

The current certification landscape is complex. A streamlined approach with accepted industry standards could scale adoption and progress.

03 Data collection and assurance

Measuring and reporting are often non-standard. A consistent approach to data and information flow between parties can enable a standardized solution.

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By aligning around a harmonized approach for communicating product-level sustainability information, the retail fashion industry has a significant opportunity to build trust and help consumers make more sustainable choices.

Introducing the Impact Index for fashion

Informed by consumer findings—combined with an understanding that some level of consumer education is necessary—we propose a set of core categories to include in the MVP of an industry-wide label. This recommendation is a first step based on the industry’s current capabilities, and aims to incorporate additional topics and drive continuous improvement as data availability and assurance matures. The framework’s core categories address the product itself and three out of the top four highest rated categories by consumers.

To enable success, the Impact Index needs a back-end system that is standardized and automated, ensuring brands can quickly share sustainability information with a variety of retailers in real-time.

Here are the core categories powering the label:

Raw materials

Products sourced with certified materials that reduce impacts to the environment and the communities who create them.

Animal welfare

Supporting the five freedoms of animal welfare and responsible land management practices.

Chemical usage

Products certified as free from harmful substances and chemicals.

Education and empowerment

Driving action for the benefit of workers and gender equity in global supply chains.

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Closing the gap between retailers and consumers

The opportunity to close the gap between what fashion brands and retailers are doing now to communicate product-level sustainability data and how consumers want to consume that data is clear. The Impact Index’s data categories, rooted in consumer research and vetted by brands, aims to resolve this. Read the full report.



Cara Smyth

Managing Director – Sustainability


Frank Zambrelli

Managing Director – Sustainability

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