SAN FRANCISCO, CA.
Today at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit (CFS+) technology company Higg Co will unveil its new transparency solution, introducing sustainability transparency to the apparel industry at a global scale. While transparency in the apparel sector is a hot topic, it has also been an elusive development. Until now, there has not been a way to explore the validity or comparability of product sustainability claims.
Expected to launch in 2021, this new open data portal, developed in partnership with the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), will feature access to the actual data behind social and environmental sustainability claims by global brands, retailers, and manufacturers. For the first time, consumers and stakeholders will be able to see the actual data behind statements about product sustainability.
The transparency product aims to provide a gateway from sustainability claims on online product purchasing pages, advertisements, or other applications direct to source data, which is credible, comparable, and contextualized. Powered primarily by Higg Index data, the product is designed to integrate with other data providers on the Higg platform to offer the most comprehensive publicly available picture of a product’s social and environmental sustainability performance.
“For years, we’ve heard that consumers want sustainability information they can use to shop in a way that aligns with their personal values,” says Jason Kibbey, Higg Co CEO. “As a consumer, you’ll soon be able to go on that journey for the first time. As an NGO you’ll be able to explore the detail behind claims and as a research or data scientist, you’ll be able to access new data sets. Data like this has never been available at this scale. Whether customers want to support brands that prioritize wages for workers or focus on reducing water consumption or lowering carbon emissions, meaningful data is essential to making better choices and incentivising industry change. The Higg open data portal is an important first step in delivering sustainability transparency publicly at a global scale.”
From the start, the Higg platform was planned to enable transparency, yet alignment on what that is and looks like is incredibly challenging to achieve, given the complexity of the global apparel and footwear industry. For the past several years the Higg Index has been collecting facility, brand, and retailer data, materials data, and shortly product level data. Consumers report they’re interested in product-level sustainability information – but are rarely given access to data in ways they can understand or act upon.
Higg is partnering with the SAC as SAC members progress towards industry alignment, testing transparency approaches with consumers. This summer, three leading SAC-member brands and retailers, Zalando, H&M, and PVH, tested consumer-facing Higg Index transparency at an unprecedented global scale, with more than seven million global customers engaged. As a technology company, Higg can quickly apply learnings from tests to iterate on platform capabilities, preparing to accommodate an industry-wide approach and enabling those who are well progressed on their transparency journey, to begin sharing information with stakeholders in a consistent, credible way.
Consumers, NGOs, regulators, and governments will be able to use the open data portal to compare and validate claims by the apparel industry, including brands and retailers, and track progress. Transparency also encourages data-driven decision-making and innovation – both within an organization, as well as across the entire sector.
“Seeing Higg transparency on product level pages will become the signal of a brand or retailer’s commitment to sustainability and transparency and the gateway to data that invites accountability and trust,” says SAC Executive Director Amina Razvi. “The goal of the Higg Index is to provide tools that everyone can engage with, to improve their performance and scale up transparency regardless of your budget or available tools. Accelerating transparency efforts allows us to accelerate action on the industry’s most pressing issues.”
Higg CEO, Jason Kibbey is clear that the open data portal is being built to evolve, acknowledging that digitalization enables visibility into how people interact with the data, informing platform evolution in line with user needs.
“We have so much to learn and fully expect that the platform will evolve as we better understand user needs, as the data improves, and as new data becomes available,” says Kibbey. ”It’s exciting to finally open the door to the sustainability data behind product claims; an original goal when the Higg Index was conceived 10 years ago”
Higg is the sustainability insights platform for consumer goods industries, delivering software and services for measuring, managing, and sharing supply chain performance data.
From materials to products, from facilities to stores, across energy, waste, water, and working conditions, Higg unlocks a complete view of a business’s social and environmental impact. Built on the leading framework for sustainability measurement, Higg is trusted by global brands, retailers, and manufacturers to provide the comprehensive intelligence needed to accelerate business and industry transformation.
Spun out of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition in 2019 as a public-benefit technology company, Higg is the exclusive licensee of the Higg Index, a suite of tools for the standardized measurement of supply chain sustainability.