Womenswear label Elk has cited several challenges in meeting its goal of using 80% preferred materials by 2025, including pricing and production volumes. 

According to the label's latest transparency report, some of the fabric mills it sources from only offer materials with requisite environmental certifications if Elk commits to larger orders. This makes sourcing a challenge because Elk’s order quantities are purposely kept low to avoid over-production.

Elk has also reported a slower than expected uptake of A+ transformational fibres in its collections, mainly because they have been recently introduced to the market and have a “prohibitively” high price point for both the business and consumer. 

A+ transformational fibres are regenerative and circular, including agricultural wastes such as next generation man-made cellulosic fibres (MMCFs), which are made from recycled textiles and agricultural waste, and recycled wool, cashmere and cotton.

Meanwhile, chain of custody certifications often require coordinating with multiple suppliers over a complex supply chain. 

“This presents unique challenges for a small team like ours from a resource and cost perspective,” the report confirmed.

Elk reported a 63% increase in its overall material usage to 84.5 tonnes in 2023. Overall preferred fibre use of A and B rated fibres was 64% in 2023, up from 45% in its last reporting period. 

“This increase is attributed to a change in reporting period from calendar year to financial year, our business growth since the previous reporting period, as well as a focus on improving our data systems to ensure that weights are captured as accurately as possible across the entire collection,” the report noted.

Man-made cellulosic fibres (MMCFs) were Elk’s most widely used material accounting for 29%, followed by cotton and bast fibres which make up for 25% and 18% respectively.

“We will continue to work towards meeting our goal of 80% preferred materials by 2025, reviewing and refining our sourcing strategy, and incorporating any new research or innovations into our design approach,” the report stated.

This will include bettering its use of A+ rated fibres. “For this we will work on sourcing Next-Gen recycled viscose solutions, which we are finding to be more accessible than before.”

Elk head of sustainability Vaibhav Gaikwad confirmed the brand will be submitting its B Corporation application shortly.

“Although this is later than expected, the initiatives we have implemented this year put us in a better position for getting certified,” Gaikwad said. 

“Over the next year, we will also be redefining certain aspects of our sustainability strategy, including an update to our preferred materials guide, and moving to a more metric driven approach wherein we set clear short and long-term goals for our key sustainability indicators and track their progress at regular intervals. 

“We will be keeping an eye on developments in the product stewardship space and the upcoming ESG reporting regulations in Australia.”

A majority of the brand’s tier 1 suppliers come from China and Hong Kong (75%), followed by India (14%), Turkey (5%), Vietnam (3%) and South Korea (3%). Elk has mapped all of its tier 1 suppliers, 86% of its tier 2 suppliers, 34% of its tier 3 suppliers and 32% of its tier 4 suppliers.

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