Environmental Aspects of the Supply Chain

Environmental protection at suppliers
Protecting the environment in all steps of the production and supply chain is paramount to HUGO BOSS. That’s why we work together with our suppliers to establish and enhance environmentally-friendly processes.

The HUGO BOSS environmental program

All HUGO BOSS suppliers pledge to comply with the HUGO BOSS Social Standards. They also contain environmental standards. The environment module of the Global Social Compliance Program (GSCP) forms the foundation for analyzing and improving environmental protection in the supply chain. To this end, HUGO BOSS has worked on optimizing the GSCP Open Source environmental program for many years, in collaboration with the GSCP and other experts. The aim is always to develop improved, uniform standards worldwide.

In the framework of GSCP environmental audits, HUGO BOSS requires its suppliers to provide information about environment-related aspects. The suppliers provide details about their energy and water consumption, greenhouse gas emissions, and waste water and waste generation, for example. They also indicate which measures they are taking to avoid harmful substances and which environment management systems they use.

If a partner fails to satisfy the demands of HUGO BOSS, the company draws up corrective action plans, aimed at rectifying the insufficiencies. Extensive information about the audits conducted and their results is available in the HUGO BOSS Sustainability Report.

HUGO BOSS commitment in the supply chain

HUGO BOSS also became active in the Global Climate Action for Fashion working group of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2018. In this group, brands, manufacturers, and organizations discuss goals and targets for climate protection along the entire textile value chain. This year, the group worked on developing a mutual understanding and also agreed on the next steps for contributing to the goals of the Paris Agreement.

Specifically for the sourcing market in Vietnam, HUGO BOSS and other German fashion brands supports a training course to sensitize the country’s textile suppliers to climate protection issues. This is organized by Global Compact Network Germany, WWF Germany, and other organizations. Systain Consulting trains the suppliers in methods for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, using energy more efficiently, and increasing use of renewable energy sources. In total, some 80 participants from around 30 factories, including eight HUGO BOSS suppliers, attended the course in 2018.

Our target: environmentally friendly leather

HUGO BOSS became a member of the Leather Working Group (LWG) in 2017. This initiative brings brands, retailers, leather producers, finished goods suppliers, chemicals suppliers, and technical experts together to mitigate the environmental impacts of leather production as much as possible. The LWG audits and certifies tanneries based on a custom-developed audit process.

HUGO BOSS has declared its target of sourcing a quarter of its leather requirements from tanneries certified by the LWG by 2019 – in 2017, this figure was 23%. Click here for more information about our materials.

Avoidance of hazardous substances

Producing leather and textile products requires the use of chemicals in several steps along the supply chain. HUGO BOSS works toward ensuring responsible use of these chemicals – not only to improve safety for customers and industrial workers, but also as a decisive factor for minimizing environmental impacts in the supply chain. That’s why HUGO BOSS works together with industry-wide initiatives and continually optimizes its production processes together with its suppliers.

  • Raw materials

    Different chemicals are used in the production of raw materials – whether for cotton, synthetic fibers, or recycled materials, for example. 

    To reduce the use of chemicals, HUGO BOSS works toward using materials from sustainable production in larger amounts. To this end, the company is a partner in the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), for example, to reduce the use of pesticides and fertilizers in cotton cultivation. We also use certified organic cotton, for example, in our BOSS Men Bodywear products in the Signature Line.

  • Manufacturing

    Our natural capital evaluation showed that the wet chemical processes in production in particular – such as dyeing and tanning – have major environmental impacts. This is partly due to the use of different chemicals. HUGO BOSS and its partners work together intensively to optimize these processes. This involves both the reduction of the use of chemicals and the use of alternative, more environmentally friendly chemicals.

    To support its suppliers, HUGO BOSS joined the ZDHC Roadmap to Zero Program in 2017. The basis of this program is the ZDHC Manufacturing Restricted Substances List (ZDHC MRSL), which will be introduced in 2018 as part of all supplier contracts and in the relevant production processes at HUGO BOSS. The list contains defined thresholds for specific chemicals, which helps our partners to minimize the use of harmful chemicals or eliminate them completely. Suppliers can find safe alternatives to these substances in an online tool operated by the ZDHC, the ZDHC Gateway - Chemical Module. The ZDHC also offers comprehensive training courses and materials in the ZDHC Academy, to help suppliers transition to environmentally-friendly processes.

    In addition, the prevention of water pollution is another important goal of the ZDHC. Its waste water guidelines define waste water parameters, thresholds, and testing methods for verifying compliance with the ZDHC MRSL and achieving high waste water quality. Participating suppliers can upload their collected data to the waste water module of the ZDHC Gateway, for distribution to brands, avoiding unnecessary tests.

    Using innovation: alternative processes

    HUGO BOSS also encourages its suppliers to use alternative processes to substitute chemicals and reduce water consumption – provided they can still achieve the high level of quality that HUGO BOSS customers expect.

    A good example of this is denim production: in certain styles the popular used look is now created using laser technology instead of treating the fabric with chemicals. The ozone wash method not only reduces the need for chemicals, but also water consumption.

    Another innovative technology uses nanobubbles made of air, water, and chemicals. Thanks to the nanobubbles, which promote the conveyance of the chemicals to the textile, significantly less chemicals, water, and energy have to be used. This technology was used in the production of the Responsible Capsule in the fall/winter collection 2018, for example.

    Alternative, more environmentally-friendly processes for processing wool are also already available today. Normally, wool is treated with a chlorine base to prevent it from shrinking and shedding during washing. An environmentally-friendly alternative that does not use any chlorine or other chemicals is Naturetexx® plasma technology. In this approach, the friction profile of the individual wool fibers on the surface is modified in a plasma field, so shedding no longer occurs. Products treated in this process can be machine-washed without problems – and wear is also reduced significantly. HUGO BOSS uses this method to treat its John RS Uni socks and William RS Uni socks, for example.

  • Final product

    To guarantee the health and safety of the people who come into contact with HUGO BOSS products – partners, employees, and customers – the company observes the highest safety standards. For this reason, in particular, compliance with the HUGO BOSS Restricted Substance List (RSL) is mandatory for partners and suppliers at every stage in the supply chain.

    With the HUGO BOSS RSL, the company defines strict maximum amounts of chemicals contained in products. Compliance is verified by regular product tests that HUGO BOSS commissions in external laboratories. The RSL is continually enhanced, incorporating input from our membership of the industry-wide AFIRM (Apparel & Footwear International RSL Management Group) initiative. AFIRM’s work focuses on defining an industry-wide RSL, sharing best practices, and designing joint approaches to product safety. Since 2018, the HUGO BOSS RSL has completely met the requirements of the AFIRM RSL.

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Working for the environment

HUGO BOSS works hard to reduce the environmental impacts of our business activities – for example, through a variety of measures aimed at reducing the energy consumption of our buildings.

Our goal: sustainable products

Sustainability starts with the design. That’s why HUGO BOSS increasingly uses materials that are produced through environmentally friendly processes. Animal welfare is another important factor in the selection of our materials.

Basis of the strategy: the natural capital evaluation

In the natural capital evaluation, HUGO BOSS uses scientific methods to analyze the entire value chain: Where do the largest environmental impacts occur and how can they be avoided?