Producing shirts from plastic bottles and dyeing without a drop of water, Ralph Lauren shows the world how to succeed with sustainable fashion.
Sustainable fashion has so far mostly been pursued by a handful of small businesses, but when a global fashion giant like Ralph Lauren jumps into the fray to save Mother Earth, it signals a significant shift. Sustainable fashion requires reimagining processes and Ralph Lauren has risen to the challenge by not just dyeing the clothes without using any water but also deriving the threads for its iconic Polo shirt from plastic bottles!
“Ralph Lauren will commit to removing at least 170 million bottles from landfills and oceans by 2025. Plastic waste is a major issue threatening the environment – we want to be part of the solution and utilize an innovative approach to create something valuable,” said David Lauren, chief innovation officer.
Made from an average of 12 plastic bottles, the Earth Polo shirt has been produced in partnership with First Mile, an organisation that works on sustainability and to create a positive social impact. First Mile engages entrepreneurs from low-income households to collect recyclable plastic bottles, which are then processed through an eco-friendly manufacturing process and converted into high-quality yarn and eventually into fabric.
Where dyeing is traditionally a process where gallons of water is wasted, the Polo shirts are being dyed in a unique manner that uses not a drop of water! The company is in fact aiming to reduce water use by 20% across all its operations and value chain by 2025. It is also creating environmentally conscious denims that require significantly less water. Further, Ralph Lauren is partnering with suppliers who collect and recycle old denim. The brand is also achieving its aim of sustainable fashion through a partnership with the Better Cotton Initiative that works toward responsible cotton production. By 2025 the company is aiming to source 100% of its cotton sustainably.
“When Ralph founded our company more than 50 years ago, he did so with the idea that whatever we create is meant to be worn, loved, and passed on for generations. It’s with this spirit of timelessness that we approach sustainability,” added Halide Algaoz, executive vice president, chief supply chain and sustainability officer.
Ralph Lauren’s strategy on global citizenship and sustainably is tagged as ‘Design the Change’ and is a commitment to creating timeless style, protecting the environment and championing better lives. The company has also signed the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) to implement universal sustainability principles and to take steps to support UN goals.
The Earth Polo as well as the denim collection are available at global retail stores and on RalphLauren.com.