Abercrombie & Fitch defined fashion in the early 2000s and 2010s. With low-rise jeans and polo shirts with the iconic elk logo, it’s the “it” brand for high schools across the country. Let’s not forget the strong fragrance that comes with shopping in-store.
While the brand seemed outdated a few years ago, it’s making a big comeback now. There is only one problem. How environmentally friendly is Abercrombie?
Abercrombie is back on our radar, with the hashtag #abercrombiehaul racking up 72 million views on TikTok. With these numbers, it’s no secret that shoppers are obsessed with this returning brand. However, Abercrombie is still considered a fast fashion brand.
Fast fashion is often associated with retailers such as Shein, H&M and Zara. The term represents a sector of the fashion industry, which is defined as low-cost, stylish clothing that is made in an unsustainable manner, often not ethically. While the fast fashion industry may be sweeping our social media, it’s also causing major social and environmental problems – such as contributing to global warming and climate change.
On the bright side, the fashion industry is evolving and we are seeing new, sustainable innovations in the market. This means more and more fashions made with sustainable materials, more brands participating in the circular economy, and even new upcycling projects.
That’s why we’re curious about what Abercrombie is doing with these eco-friendly trends. Let’s see how environmentally friendly Abercrombie is.
Abercrombie’s Sustainability Goals
The parent company, Abercrombie & Fitch Co., owns several Abercrombie brands. That includes Abercrombie & Fitch, Abercrombie Kids and Hollister Co. (it also has a brand of underwear called Gilly Hicks). In our research, we analyze what A&F companies are doing to protect the planet.
According to A&F Co., the company announced its 2019 sustainability goals, focusing on three areas: products, global home offices and global stores. The company said the goals are aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which contain 17 goals that help address social and environmental issues. In 2020, the company has already made progress in all three areas.
A&F has sourced 100% of its down from sources certified to the Responsible Down Standard, achieving its 2025 target within a year of implementation. It also sources 13% of its cotton supply through Better Cotton, with a target of 25% by 2025. At this point, it has achieved a 30% water reduction in denim production.
However, many of A&F’s targets are still in the beginning stages of production. For example, the company aims to achieve 100% responsible linen and 100% responsible wool standard wool, but there is little indication that the company is hitting that target.
A&F also aims to use 25 percent recycled polyester and expand its capacity-building program to 50,000 workers. Those goals are still in the construction phase, but overall, the company hopes to hit them by 2025.
Like many other fast fashion retailers, the Abercrombie brand is a player in the fashion resale market. In 2020, A&F has partnered with thredUP to allow customers to send lightly used women’s and children’s clothing of any brand to thredUP. These products can then be “re-consumed” on thredUP’s website, and customers can receive an A&F-branded gift card.
Goals of Global Headquarters
As far as A&F’s global home office goals are concerned, the company has already achieved some. In terms of waste, the company has committed to continuing to fully recycle 100% of cardboard, e-waste, fabric and denim waste. The company is working to reduce waste by 50% by 2025.
Waste reduction goals also include reducing food waste and paper waste. In 2021, A&F has partnered with a service provider to collect and compost food waste. Also in 2021, A&F employees will save more than 630 trees by printing 86% fewer pages than in 2017. A&F noted that the reduction in paper usage comes from the work-from-home business that has sprung up as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The company also said that by 2025, it will train 100 percent of its “relevant employees” on human trafficking.
global store goals
A&F’s stores are on track to reduce print by 10% globally, up from a year earlier. The goal, which is still under construction, is 100% recycling of plastic bags in participating stores and 100% recycling of hazardous waste in domestic stores.
The company noted that it has more than 730 stores around the world, which “have varying recycling requirements and capabilities.” A&F is also working to recycle 100% of plastic bags for clothing where the program is offered.
In addition, the company has a goal of recycling all hazardous waste from domestic stores by this year. Previously, in 2020, 27% of domestic stores participated.
Is Abercrombie fast fashion?
A&F has a comprehensive list of sustainability goals, including how it is working to reduce carbon emissions. The company also pledged to “continue [its] work to establish a reduction target and begin identifying additional carbon reductions”.
Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across A&F’s value chain – including product transport, travel and supplier emissions – are seeing reductions so far. In 2019, GHG emissions from the value chain totaled 128,830 metric tons of CO2. In 2020, that number dropped to 84,710 metric tons of carbon dioxide.
However, despite Abercrombie’s efforts to make its environmental footprint more transparent, the corporate goals consumers will be able to achieve may not be as detailed as we think.
In the 2021 Fashion Transparency Index, Abercrombie & Fitch scored 21-30%. This means the company is likely to publish more information about policies, procedures, and social and environmental goals; however, the brand is unlikely to share information about the results of supplier assessments. And in this category, brands only publish a rudimentary list of manufacturers – they can do better.
As consumers, we want Abercrombie to be more transparent about its social and environmental impacts. To learn more about Abercrombie & Fitch’s sustainability efforts, check out the company’s corporate goals.
Also, it’s important to note that while some brands are offering eco-friendly products, like Steve Madden’s Cool Planet shoes, Abercrombie has yet to release an eco-friendly line of clothing or accessories.
All in all, the Abercrombie brand is still fast fashion, albeit at a premium compared to retailers like Shein and H&M.
Not all of Abercrombie’s products are sustainably made, but the company is slowly moving in the right direction. That said, it’s important for consumers to spend their money on brands that align with social and environmental values.
Unfortunately, the fashion industry accounts for 10% of all human carbon emissions and is the second largest consumer of global water supplies. Some big brands like Abercrombie are transitioning to greener practices, such as using recycled materials and working to reduce carbon emissions. But much remains to be done to mitigate the effects of climate change on our planet.
As a consumer, you can send a message to brands – including fast fashion companies – by buying ethically and sustainably. After all, the fashion world is seeing more and more sustainable materials like fibers made from pineapple leaves and mushroom skins.
You can also get involved in a more circular economy. That means participating in resale programs and even upcycling textiles. Even so, one of the best ways to shop is to buy second-hand.
There are many ways to shop more sustainably, and our job as consumers is to stay informed about what brands are doing in the sustainability space.