Stella McCartney, Nike, H&M, Adidas and... Google? Inside the fight for a sustainable fashion industry

British fashion designer Stella McCartney

Google is the latest major company tackling the issue of sustainability within the fashion industry.

At this month's Copenhagen Fashion Summit the tech giant announced a collaboration with the luxury designer Stella McCartney -- famous for her eponymous clothing empire -- to measure the environmental impact of the fashion industry via a tool using data analytics and machine learning on Google Cloud. The strategy aims to give brands a more comprehensive view into their supply chains -- particularly when it comes to raw materials, an area they often have little visibility in. The aim is to allow brands to more accurately measure their impact by providing information on air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, land use and water scarcity. The approach will initially focus on cotton and viscose.

"At Stella McCartney we have been continuously focusing on looking at responsible and sustainable ways to conduct ourselves in fashion, it is at the heart of what we do," said McCartney in a statement. "We are trying our best -- we aren't perfect, but we are opening a conversation that hasn't really been had in the history of fashion."

Stella McCartney isn't the only company ramping up its efforts to bring about change in the fashion world.

The summit also saw Nike unveil a Circular Design Workbook that provides designers and creators across the sector with a common language for circularity and sustainability.

At the meeting PVH Corp., the parent company behind Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger, unveiled ‘Forward Fashion', the evolution of its corporate responsibility strategy that aims to reduce its negative impacts to zero and increase positive impacts to 100%.

The event also hosted the presentation of a joint manifesto from EURATEX (European Apparel and Textile Confederation), Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry, Global Fashion Agenda, International Apparel Federation and Sustainable Apparel Coalition, calling on existing and forthcoming EU policymakers to consider tools to establish a circular fashion system.

Meanwhile, April saw the H&M Group announce that 57% of the materials it uses are created using recycled or other sustainably sourced fibers, and Adidas debuted a beta version of a fully-recyclable running shoe.

The Copenhagen Fashion Summit -- which was organized by the organization Global Fashion Agenda -- came just weeks after the 2019 update of the annual report ‘Pulse of the Fashion Industry' was published, whose findings suggested that the sector was not moving quickly enough to counterbalance its harmful impact on the planet. The annual assessment is published by Global Fashion Agenda, Boston Consulting Group and Sustainable Apparel Coalition.