Abercrombie & Fitch shifts wood-based fabrics to sustainable sourcing
September 15, 2017 | 12:07 pm CDT
A 100 percent tree-based tencel fabric blouse from Abercrombie & Fitch. 
ALBANY, Oh. - Abercrombie & Fitch Co. is moving to a more sustainable policy on the sourcing and use wood-based fabrics, including rayon, viscose and modal, in its clothes. 
“Currently, Abercrombie & Fitch stocks almost 300 items that use fabrics made from trees––like rayon, viscose, or modal. These fabrics are driving rainforest destruction in Indonesia and threatening the livelihoods of Indigenous and frontline communities,” said Brihannala Morgan, Senior Forest Campaigner with Rainforest Action Network.
A&F has committed to trace the sources of regenerated cellulosic fibers, such as viscose and rayon, used in its own clothing lines. By mid-2018, Abercrombie & Fitch says it will have put in place comprehensive procedures to establish the origin of its suppliers’ fibers, which are designed to ensure it does not work with those sourcing from ancient or endangered forests, or linked to violation of the rights of indigenous peoples who depend on such forests. This new policy will cover all of A&F’s brands.
Rainforest Action Network's thank you to Abercrombie & Fitch
A&F joins a growing list of apparel companies implementing policies to ensure its supply chain does not contribute to deforestation. The company stands out with Ralph Lauren and Victoria’s Secret (L Brands) as one of the few major U.S.-based companies to publicly address these issues. A source of wood-based fibers, Lenzing, announced in May a line of supply-chain verified fabrics - EcoVero - made from PEFC or FSC certified wood. 
Developed in collaboration with Rainforest Action Network, whose “Out of Fashion” campaign has been bringing attention to the risks that many wood-based fabrics pose to endangered forests, and the people who depend on those forests, in Indonesia and elsewhere.
“Communities in North Sumatra have been campaigning on this issue for over thirty years, demanding that global brands acknowledge and remedy their local impacts to people and forests,” said Brihannala Morgan, Senior Forest Campaigner with Rainforest Action Network (RAN), who worked with Abercrombie & Fitch Co. on the creation of its policy. “It’s encouraging to see brands beginning to take responsibility for their supply chains. Abercrombie & Fitch’s commitments and actions, joining more than 100 other brands who have developed policies, can truly have a positive impact on forests and the people that depend on them.”
“At A&F, we have a history of demonstrating our commitment to environmental responsibility through our actions, and this new policy is a further step on our ongoing sustainability journey. We know there is a need for better supply chain traceability and, with RAN’s support, we can now make an even greater positive impact,” said Kim Harr, Senior Director of Sustainability at Abercrombie & Fitch Co.
A&F’s new policy amplifies a strong market signal to producers in Indonesia, Canada, South Africa and Brazil where the production of pulp for fabrics has had major impacts on natural forests, as well as on the Indigenous and local communities who depend on the forests. For example, in Northern Sumatra, Indonesia, over 20 cases of land conflict have been documented where traditionally-owned land have been cleared and converted to plantations, without the communities’ consent, to make pulp for fabric and paper production.
Over the course of its Out of Fashion campaign, RAN encouraged its membership and consumers to write to A&F and other “Fashion 15” brands to call attention to the environmental and social impacts of forest-based fabrics and to ask the companies to take immediate action. RAN’s Out of Fashion campaign continues to call on other brands including Michael Kors, Guess, Forever 21, Under Armour and Foot Locker to develop robust purchasing policies, research their supply chains, identify and eliminate controversial sources and implement time-bound plans to ensure that their supply chains are not connected to the loss of forests or any associated violations of human rights. 

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About the author
Bill Esler | ConfSenior Editor

Bill wrote for WoodworkingNetwork.com, FDMC and Closets & Organized Storage magazines. 

Bill's background includes more than 10 years in print manufacturing management, followed by more than 30 years in business reporting on industrial manufacturing in the forest products industries, including printing and packaging at American Printer (Features Editor) and Graphic Arts Monthly (Editor in Chief) magazines; and in secondary wood manufacturing for WoodworkingNetwork.com.

Bill was deeply involved with the launches of the Woodworking Network Leadership Forum, and the 40 Under 40 Awards programs. He currently reports on technology and business trends and develops conference programs.

In addition to his work as a journalist, Bill supports efforts to expand and improve educational opportunities in the manufacturing sectors, including 10 years on the Print & Graphics Scholarship Foundation; six years with the U.S. WoodLinks; and currently on the Woodwork Career Alliance Education Committee. He is also supports the Greater West Town Training Partnership Woodworking Program, which has trained more than 950 adults for industrial wood manufacturing careers. 

Bill volunteers for Foinse Research Station, a biological field station staddling the border of Ireland and Northern Ireland, one of more than 200 members of the Organization of Biological Field Stations.