Impact of Fashion leverages on over 50,000 data points to derive robust and actionable fashion footprint analysis.
Our purpose to develop Impact of Fashion
In the midst of incredible greenwashing, we believe transparency and tangible impact are crucial to building consumer trust and enforcing a conscious enduring change in the way we produce, consumer and dispose of fashion.
Impact of Fashion marks a revolutionary step in the direction of equipping brands with a seamless technology that enables continuous measurement, communication and mitigation of the environmental footprint of textile production and waste.
Our science-based tools are touching over 50 000 data points to provide an impartial and accurate evaluation down to a single product level, to allow brands and customers to take account and act to reduce their footprint.
Choosing the most robust methodology
To build the algorithm that generates an impartial, comprehensive and accurate evaluation down to a single product level, our team applied the methodology underpinning the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) approach.
Life cycle assessment is an environmental management tool that considers the impact towards certain pre-determined environmental issues over the lifetime of a product. Our choice of methodology was led by the recognition of LCA as the most robust tool to date to provide the systems perspective required to accelerate the shift towards more sustainable consumption and production patterns (UNEP 2016).
The scope of our LCA study is a cradle-to-grave (as opposed to cradle-to-gate which is confined to the manufacturing phase) to account for all the stages of a product lifetime, including raw materials extraction, manufacturing, transportation and distribution, use and disposal.
Due to the deficiency of rigorous, peer-reviewed scientific research on the environmental impact of user behaviour and consumption patterns, we have excluded the use phase from the assessment for the time being. We are aware of the significant contribution the use stage might have to certain environmental parameters (e.g. climate change) and will be working towards factoring this impact into a future version of the tool.
end of life
raw material production
dying and finishing
Leveraging on the largest dataset of verified and consistent data
The algorithm, set on primary and secondary peer-reviewed research, touches on 50,000+ data points, where we continuously enrich and update the database based on new research and findings.
The secondary data that the algorithm utilises leverages on representative data derived from over 1,500 scientific journals. We have performed a robust review and analysis of these to systemize outputs that quantify the impact at comparable unit processes, system boundaries, LCIA methodologies and allocation factors, and ensure comparisons are made “on like terms”. On the primary data end, we are partnering with Ecoinvent, the world's most consistent and transparent life cycle inventory database. Our ambition is to take the lead on exclusive LCA researches for innovative materials in collaboration with renowned research institutions and directly with producers.
All data sources that our algorithm relies on are based on an extensive structured analysis with representative samples and methodology. Our data analysis further takes into consideration and accounts for the differences in framework scope of the different researches and has mitigated the margin of error in results variation driven by the scope of the framework. That is, if one research has based their findings on the Cradle-to-Gate framework and another on the Cradle-to-Grave framework, our analytical framework would not treat the research findings as the final output data to include in our calculation algorithm, but would extrapolate and standardise the data to account for the methodological differences. Authenticity, time limit and geographical coverage of the secondary data sources are all aspects that were further carefully examined before using the data.
It is worth to mention that we found LCA studies with similar boundaries and geographic focus which reveal differing values for the environmental impact categories studied. In such instances, and on the condition that the deviation is not significant, we have selected the most thorough and conservative estimates. In the cases of significant variance, we have carried out a statistical analysis to accurately interpret the data and understand the key factor behind such deviation.
Current assessment limitations
The tool is built to focus on the environmental impacts of textile production and end-of-life management and currently does not consider social and economic implications. The algorithm leverages solely on primary and secondary peer-reviewed verified data sources and would only consider enriching our dataset with third-party private data upon impartially verifying the methodology, research implementation and data interpretation are complete, exhaustive, unbiased and statistically representative.
What and how do we measure
The impact assessment is the phase of the process aimed at understanding and evaluating the magnitude and significance of the potential environmental impacts throughout the life cycle of a product. Within the LCA framework there are two approaches to analysing the environmental impacts – a mid-point and an end-point approach. For the creation of our algorithm we resorted to the mid-point, also known as the problem-oriented approach, where the category impacts are translated into real phenomenon-based environmental themes such as climate change, water depletion, eco- and human toxicity.
Global warming potential
Human and eco toxicity
Each gas (CO2, CH4, N2O, HFC, PFC and SF6) has its own global warming potential (GWP) based on its radioactive capacity compared to CO2. GWP takes CO2 as the reference point of GHGs.
The water depletion indicator refers to the amount of freshwater (i.e. water taken from sources such as lakes and rivers) that is used and then consumed as a result of the production of garments.
Emissions of chemical substances to air, water and soil with results calculated in two impact categories: human toxicity and (freshwater) eco-toxicity.
Diversion of textile waste from landfill or incineration measured in net product weight
GWP100 – 100-year time horizon
Water depletion/water use
CTU h/kg (comparative toxic units, human)
CTU e/kg (comparative toxic units, eco)
kg (product weight)
CO2 eq. footprint
To derive the basis for the formula for CO2 eq. emissions and/or savings at product level, we had looked at the impact generated at five “hot spots”:
Material impact (MI)
Wet processing and finishing impact (WP&FI)
Manufacturing impact (MOHI)
Distribution impact (DI)
End of life impact (EOLI)
M * MI * PW/PA + WP&FI + DI * PW + MOHI + EOLI * PW/PA
The formula is then tailored to different business models ( Pre-owned, Standard, Sustainable and Rental) to arrive at the most accurate and actionable evaluation of the impact category.
To derive the basis for the formula for water footprint and/or savings at product level, we had looked at the impact generated at two “hot spots”:
Material impact (MI)
Wet processing and finishing impact (WP&F)
The formula is then tailored to different business models to arrive at the most accurate and actionable evaluation of the impact category.
M * MI * PW + WP&FI * PW
To derive the basis for the formula for toxic footprint and/or savings at single-unit level, we had looked at the impact generated at the two most chemical-intensive processes:
Material impact (MI)
Wet processing & Finishing impact (WP&FI)
End of life impact (EOLI)
The formula is then tailored to different business models (Pre-owned, Standard, Sustainable, Rental) to arrive at the most accurate and actionable evaluation of the impact category.
M * MI * PW + WP&FI * PW + EOLI * PW
Sustainable brands, pre-owned fashion and collaborative consumption (rental) contribute to diverting textile waste from landfill or incineration. Increasing the average number of times clothes are worn is the most direct lever to capture value and design out waste and pollution in the textiles system. Our tool accounts for this by using the product weight as base for measuring the waste savings.
Circularity Qualitative Score
We believe that assessing a piece's circularity on a proportion basis does not reflect the actual potential for this proportion to be circulated. In fact, if the piece is not 100% circular, it would not be circulated. This is why we have opted for a 0-1 binary approach, where if the piece is <100% circular, then it is not circular. Assessing circularity is based on the product's ability to:
1. Circulate back to the value chain efficiently while generating less footprint than a virgin material
2. Circulate back to nature without impacting our nature's diversity, balance and health.
We are applying a zero-sum approach where we consider a product to either be circular or not. We differentiate between 4 types of circularity-enabling products:
100% recycled material
The product supports a closed loop system by preventing non-healthy waste from entering the environment, regenerating materials and keeping them in use as long as possible.
100% upcycled material
The product supports a closed loop by turning waste into valuable, reusable material of enhanced quality. Materials are not processed but instead used as they come, with creativity as the main engine in the discipline.
100% recyclable material
The product is designed with recyclability in mind (either mechanical or chemical recycling process), following the principles of mono-material design, design for disassembly and transformability.
100% biodegradable material
We differentiate between 2 types of biodegradable products:
Naturally compostable – a material symbiotically decomposes in soil, marine environments or conventional home composts. The material returns to the biosphere with zero negative environmental impact. This implies absence of toxic and/or carcinogenic components.
Industrially biodegradable – the material is biodegradable under certain conditions (temperature, pressure). The biogas released during the degradation process can be used in alternative green energy industries.
Building a better world through supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
Impact of Fashion empowers brands and customers to take account and act to reduce their footprint, supporting the achievement of the United Nations SDGs. For the textile industry, SDG 12: Responsible Production & Consumption is the gateway to positive outcomes for many of the other SDGs, such as no poverty, sustainable agriculture, industry innovation, and improved life on land and under water.
By providing thorough, yet understandable, measurement of carbon (13), water (14) and waste (15) footprints and encouraging improved practices, the tool plays a critical role in reducing carbon emissions and the impact on water and energy use. To achieve the 2030 Goals, many stakeholders must work together, and SDG 17 Partnerships for the Goals will be key to success. We strongly believe in the power of collectivism, pulled knowledge and combined resources. That is why we are continuously seeking collaborations and working closely with partnering organisations (17) to enable transparency and call for action throughout the industry (9).