Last year our team made some tremendous progress, increasing the percentage of responsibly sourced fibres to 94%. We completely eliminated conventional cotton, conventional viscose and conventional lyocell from our collections. This resulted in the footprint of the average Isabella Oliver garment dropping significantly: the relative carbon footprint dropped by 27% and the water footprint dropped by 30%, year on year.

We’ve celebrated these achievements, but by no means are we resting on our laurels. We know that the fashion industry is causing inexcusable damage to our world – and we’re on a mission to change that.

The better we get, the more we need to improve at measuring what we do: both so we can see the small improvements we are making and to spot where there is room for further development.

Most recently, we re-calculated the impact of garments for the entirety of 2021, 2020 and 2019. The new methodology is more accurate - further differentiating between the production processes for the formation of yarns and fabrics, as well as some of the additional washes and fabric treatments. We’ve also added ‘trims’ to our calculations. These had not previously been accounted for and they can have a significant impact (especially in the case of metal trims).

This has resulted in an increase of our carbon footprint, which we want to be transparent about. This increase was seen in all 3 years, as well as a more pronounced drop in relative carbon emissions.

At this point one might wonder why go to this much trouble only to end up with a higher footprint – and then discuss it in a public forum…

Why did we do it?

We want to remain honest with ourselves and all our stakeholders – including our customers – about our impact. For example, from 2019 to 2020 our team removed rivets in jeans – which we considered didn’t add much to the design, but they made a significant difference when it came to disassembling them for recycling. Whilst previously these kinds of trims had not been accounted for, we can now measure the carbon footprint savings inherent to this change.

It's a small difference in the grand scheme of things but given how much great work our team has done already to tackle the large impact areas (such as lowering the amount of conventional fibres and other high-environmental impact materials), some of our progress going forth, now relies on working toward this level of detail.

Changes to the Isabella Oliver Sustainability Index scores

As we looked into our improved methodology calculating the environmental footprint of clothing, we realised that some of the changes should also extend to our Isabella Oliver Index. We took the opportunity of the changing season to roll out revised scores. This reflects the changes made to how we calculate the environmental impact of garments through the Isabella Oliver Sustainability Index.

Our index was created and launched last year to allow for easier comparison of impact areas and cross-material comparisons. You may have come across it on our product pages or as the small icon with an impact score in our catalogues (and you can read all about it here).

During the time of the first drop of products in January 2022, new scores were uploaded into our website. Some of you may have noticed a difference, especially notable in woven fabrics and garments with heavier washes and/or more trims, which now score a little lower.

Changes to our use of Sustainable Attributes icons

Connected to the environmental footprint of each garment is also our acknowledgement to the Sustainable Attributes. Some of these rely on the environmental impact of the product in certain areas. These attributes are the Low Carbon, Low Water Use and Low Impact. With the change to how we calculate the impact of garments, some of our products now score higher than the threshold for these attributes – which have been accordingly removed for a number of our product pages.

Whilst the list of credentials for some of our products now looks less impressive, we see this also as a challenge to drive the environmental footprint of those garments and processes further down and conquer those credentials once more. As you may have seen by now, our team love a good challenge!

We are on track to continue reducing the environmental footprint of our garments. This season we’ve already achieved some fantastic targets: all of our garments are made from responsibly sourced materials and none of our raw materials impact deforestation.

This year we will continue exploring new materials and new manufacturing processes that are better for people and planet. We’ll also seek to increase the amount of recycled fibres and work to make our collections as circular as possible. As always, you can keep up with what we’re achieving by checking our Impact page.

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