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From ensuring Human Rights in our factories to decreasing Water Usage in our production, we’ve put meaningful effort into improving the sustainability of our products.
We work collaboratively with our supplier partners around the world to incentivize sustainability improvements. We assess our environmental impact and address human rights issues in our factories before we begin to work with them. On a quarterly basis, we discuss cross-functional and detailed feedback with our sourcing and manufacturing teams on factory sustainability performance, through the use of supplier scorecards. This process ensures that our suppliers understand the importance of sustainability in our sourcing strategy, as we incorporate these factors into all our decision making.
Social issues relating to our product are those that impact people and our ability to maintain a healthy and productive society. Our focus here has been to protect the Human Rights of those who work within our Supply Chain.
We aim to work with best-in-class factories and mills, defined by the quality of the product and by how they work. The human rights and environmental performance of our partners are part of our onboarding assessment and overall supplier scorecards. We use the United Nations Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights to form the basis of our approach, recognizing our responsibility to uphold human rights and provide workers with access to remedy.
For each new factory, we do an onboarding assessment which includes a
review of the factory’s employment practices and labour rights. We evaluate working
hours, wages, freedom of association and health and safety amongst other areas.
These standards are outlined in our Code of Conduct which is signed by our supply chain
partners. The Code of Conduct aligns with leading standards in the fashion industry,
including established international frameworks such as the International Bill of Human Rights ,
the International Labour Organization’s
Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and the Ethical Trading Initiative Base Code.
Responsible sourcing decisions are made at a country level as well as a factory level. Aritzia has a cross-functional country analysis process, including a review of the human rights and environmental context of a country, before deciding whether to begin business there. This approach allows us to integrate sustainability into our decision-making from the start.
Once onboarded, we continue to assess supplier performance against our
Code of Conduct, using local and independent specialists including Elevate and Impactt as our preferred partners. In
an effort to build relationships based on transparency and trust, our preference is
to conduct announced audits, which has been the case for 100% of our audits to date.
If needed, unannounced audits may be conducted. Our teams also conduct visits to
build relationships and trust with our partners and to ensure that remediation and
improvements are both sustainable and upheld.
When we find opportunities for improvement, we work collaboratively to develop a corrective action plan. Aritzia provides additional support in the form of in-person consulting with local expert organizations and online training. If a manufacturer is unable or unwilling to rectify issues, we’ll reconsider our business relationship with them, while ensuring that the rights and best interests of their workers are upheld.
Amplifying Our Impact
We've partnered with the ILO-IFC Better Work Program, which signals to
supply chain partners, governments and workers that labour rights and decent working
conditions are a necessary precondition for Aritzia.
Better Work is a partnership between the United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group. Better Work is a comprehensive program bringing together all levels of the global garment industry to all levels of the global garment industry to improve working conditions and respect labour rights for workers, while boosting the competitiveness of apparel businesses.
In their factory engagement services, Better Work provides not only an assessment process, but also advisory and training. Better Work Advisors work in partnership with factories on an on-going basis to build long-term, sustainable solutions to improve working conditions. Experienced in local and national laws, Better Work Advisors establish trusted relationships with factories and foster strong, effective dialogue between workers, trade unions and management.
For more information on our supply chain transparency, please see our page on the California Transparency Act.
During this unprecedented time, Aritzia has partnered closely with our factories to understand and monitor the impact of Covid-19 on their business and employees. We’re committed to sharing available and relevant resources as required, especially related to best practice health and safety measures. We continue to adhere to the national Health and Safety Covid-19 protocols as we monitor the ongoing labour standards.
COVID-19 has had a significant impact on millions of garment workers living in countries dependent on the textile industry. The ILO issued a global call to action, COVID-19: Action in the Global Garment Industry, to protect workers’ income, health and employment as well as suppliers’ survival. Already aligned with the principles and actions outlined in the Statement — which includes paying for finished goods, not cancelling any orders already in production, promoting health and safety standards and emphasizing social protection for workers — we formally endorsed it. Together, we continue to progress toward a more sustainable clothing industry. Almost one year since signing this commitment, Aritzia maintains our promise outlined in the statement, and will continue to do so.
The environmental impacts of raw material production, fabric processing and product manufacturing are significant. It’s crucial to be conscious of emissions, water, chemistry and waste impacts of our raw material choices and manufacturing partners.
Across the fashion business, raw material production is where some of the highest environmental impact sit — including water, biodiversity and carbon impacts. Therefore, it’s one of our biggest opportunities to reduce GHG emissions, biodiversity impacts and water usage. Over the last few years, we’ve made significant improvement through adopting sustainable alternatives for our top raw materials and are committed to continual progress.
Aritzia uses the Textile Exchange “preferred” fibre or material to identify sustainable resources. We define this as a fibre or material that is ecologically or socially progressive and has been selected because it has more sustainable properties in comparison to conventional options. To achieve a “preferred” status, the fibre or material must have a recognized sector standard in place that confirms its status as “preferred”, and have sustainability criteria developed through a formalized multi-stakeholder process, which includes objective tests to verify its superior sustainability attributes, such as a peer-reviewed Life Cycle Assessment. In our Spring and Summer 2021 collections, 40% of our styles use “preferred” fibres or materials, including the materials below. Aritzia has been a member of Textile Exchange since 2019 and completes the Corporate Fibre and Materials Benchmark annually. The results from 2019 reporting cycle can be found here.
Better Cotton is sourced via a system of Mass Balance and is not physically traceable to end products. See bettercotton.org/massbalance for details.
The initiative upholds the following principles:
- Minimize the use of harmful pesticides
- Promote water stewardship
- Care for the health of soil
- Enhance biodiversity and responsible land use
- Care for and preserve fibre quality
We only use goose down that’s certified to the Responsible Down Standard (RDS).
Every step of the supply chain, down to the farm, has been inspected by an accredited independent certification body that upholds the RDS's strict requirements — ensuring our down is sourced from geese who receive adequate food, space, shelter and fresh water, and who are never force-fed or live-plucked.
To support the development of solutions to this issue, we’ve collaborated with the Ocean Wise Plastics Lab research team as well as Metro Vancouver, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, The McLean Foundation, OneOcean Expeditions and other retailers. The research will further understanding of the impacts of microfibres and identify opportunities to improve our future manufacturing to reduce the impact on our oceans.
We don’t use fur or angora on the basis of animal welfare and have banned garment sandblasting based on worker welfare. Aritzia has a comprehensive Materials Sourcing Policy, to which we hold our partners and suppliers accountable. It covers our standards for materials, animal and worker welfare, fabric processes and treatments, and raw material origin and traceability. We obtain chain of custody and facility certificate documentation from our supplier partners to validate all claims that we make.
As shown below, Aritzia’s water footprint is largely upstream at the stage of raw material production and fabric processing. It’s used for irrigation of agricultural raw materials in our products, such as growing cotton, as well as for fibre and fabric washing, processing, dyeing and finishing. To date, our strategy to reduce water consumption has focused on selecting more water-efficient, raw-material alternatives. This includes FSC certified man-made cellulosic, more sustainable cotton, recycled materials, and reducing water usage in high-water-dependent processes, such as denim production. For example, Aritzia’s Denim Forum uses Laser and Nanobubble technology to create the aesthetic our clients want, while also reducing water usage.
To monitor the environmental performance of our supply chain partners, we
adopted the Higg Facility Environmental Module (Higg
FEM) in 2018, an industry tool created by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition.
The Higg FEM is a self-assessment used by suppliers to report on their environmental
management and performance against seven key areas: energy management systems,
water, effluent, chemicals, energy, emissions and waste.
Aritzia requires Higg FEM completion by all finished good apparel factories, strategic accessories factories and strategic fabric suppliers, with a priority on their wet processing (i.e., dyeing, finishing) facilities, due to their inherent higher and more complex water and chemical impacts.
In 2020, we met our target for 100% of finished-good factories to adopt the Higg FEM. As a result of our high level of engagement with our suppliers through Higg FEM, CDP rated Aritzia as a leader within our industry regarding Supplier Engagement on climate change.
With the findings from the Higg Facility Environmental Module results, we work collaboratively with suppliers to develop Performance Improvement Plans to tackle any opportunities identified. For example, one facility didn’t provide regular training to all employees who work with hazardous waste; as a result of flagging this issue, the facility now provides training to all of these employees on a quarterly basis. We view this as an opportunity for our suppliers to improve environmental management practices through the feedback we receive.
We’re using Higg FEM to review our performance against the industry, and to inform how we work with our suppliers on environmental stewardship. We believe better environmental performance equals better business.