In this new series with textile testing and certification group Testex, Ragtrader interviews fashion businesses about their approach to more sustainable practices.
Oliver Milliner: sustainability specialist at Kathmandu
What does your role involve as a sustainability specialist?
As Kathmandu’s sustainability specialist, my key area of focus is to embed the company wide sustainability plan. This role works in collaboration with the brand, product, supply chain, HR, operations and finance teams to achieve sustainability solutions and outcomes. Kathmandu uses the Higg Index framework, designed by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, as a guideline to achieve continuous improvement.
What's the biggest achievement Kathmandu has made in this space so far?
Each year as a business we keep reaching bigger milestones in implementing a more effective and comprehensive sustainability program. Below are some of last year’s main highlights listed in our annual sustainability report.
• Kathmandu became the first Fair Labor Association accredited brand in the Southern Hemisphere.
• The Ethical Fashion Report, published by Baptist World Aid, awarded Kathmandu an ‘A’ for its proactive activity in protecting workers.
• Kathmandu was ranked #2 by the Textile Exchange for its use of preferred materials for the second year in a row.
• By using sustainable material REPREVE, Kathmandu recycled 6.7 million plastic bottles back into its product range.
• By using more recycled cotton and solution-dyed polyesters, Kathmandu saved 11.5 million bottles of water in 2018.
What are your future goals for building sustainable practices at Kathmandu?
Our future goals are to drive further sustainable innovation and ethical practices throughout the organisation.
As a business we will continue to show leadership in sustainability in the Australasian outdoor retail industry through educating customers on the social and environmental impacts of making gear.
What's the biggest challenge involved in becoming sustainable?
One of the biggest challenge for people is to understand the power their individual purchasing behaviour does have. By choosing to spend and invest their money with sustainable and ethical businesses we can all have a positive impact on our planet and people.
How do you see the broader fashion industry in terms of sustainable practices?
The outdoor and fashion industry has made huge improvements over the last few years. There are many frameworks, programs and mandates now for companies to start reporting and implementing strategies to achieve sustainable solutions.
For example, in the USA it is now standard in the industry to have a comprehensive sustainability program. Within the next few years, this will continue to improve in standards before companies start looking at regenerative solutions.