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The Nisolo Sustainability Framework

A holistic approach to social & environmental responsibility.

People

Join us at the Nisolo warehouse for major discounts and exclusive access to samples, discontinued styles, colors, and sizes that are not available online.

Planet

Join us at the Nisolo warehouse for major discounts and exclusive access to samples, discontinued styles, colors, and sizes that are not available online.

Transparency

Join us at the Nisolo warehouse for major discounts and exclusive access to samples, discontinued styles, colors, and sizes that are not available online.

Accountability

Join us at the Nisolo warehouse for major discounts and exclusive access to samples, discontinued styles, colors, and sizes that are not available online.

Ecosystem Building

Join us at the Nisolo warehouse for major discounts and exclusive access to samples, discontinued styles, colors, and sizes that are not available online.

People

“Sustainability” means pursuing 100% Living Wages and best in class measures across Health & Safety, Governance & Worker’s Rights, Gender Equality & Empowerment, Healthcare & Benefits, and Racial Justice.

Learn More

Planet

“Sustainability” means pursuing 0% Net Carbon and best in class measures across Raw Materials Integrity, Process & Manufacturing, Packaging & Distribution, and Circularity & Post Use Product Lifecycle.

Learn More

Transparency

From our Sustainability Facts Label to sharing our Lowest Wages and beyond, “Sustainability” to us means pursuing unprecedented transparency within an industry known for concealing its negative impact on people and the planet.

Learn More

Accountability

“Sustainability” cannot exist without accountability. Too many brands today boast eco-friendly advertising solely to boost sales, making public-facing self assessment, and 3rd party verification and certifications more important than ever.

Learn More

Collaboration

When pursued in a silo, “Sustainability” is ineffective. Collaboration among consumers, brands, legislators, manufacturers, academics, and beyond is the only way the fashion industry can change.

Learn More

The Nisolo Sustainability Framework

A holistic approach to social & environmental responsibility.

People

“Sustainability” means pursuing 100% Living Wages and best in class measures across Health & Safety, Governance & Worker’s Rights, Gender Equality & Empowerment, Healthcare & Benefits, and Racial Justice.

Learn More

Planet

“Sustainability” means pursuing 0% Net Carbon and best in class measures across Raw Materials Integrity, Process & Manufacturing, Packaging & Distribution, and Circularity & Post Use Product Lifecycle.

Learn More

Transparency

From our Sustainability Facts Label to sharing our Lowest Wages and beyond, “Sustainability” to us means pursuing unprecedented transparency within an industry known for concealing its negative impact on people and the planet.

Learn More

Accountability

“Sustainability” cannot exist without accountability. Too many brands today boast eco-friendly advertising solely to boost sales, making public-facing self assessment, and 3rd party verification and certifications more important than ever.

Learn More

Collaboration

When pursued in a silo, “Sustainability” is ineffective. Collaboration among consumers, brands, legislators, manufacturers, academics, and beyond is the only way the fashion industry can change.

Learn More

People

Join us at the Nisolo warehouse for major discounts and exclusive access to samples, discontinued styles, colors, and sizes that are not available online.

Planet

Join us at the Nisolo warehouse for major discounts and exclusive access to samples, discontinued styles, colors, and sizes that are not available online.

Transparency

Join us at the Nisolo warehouse for major discounts and exclusive access to samples, discontinued styles, colors, and sizes that are not available online.

Accountability

Join us at the Nisolo warehouse for major discounts and exclusive access to samples, discontinued styles, colors, and sizes that are not available online.

Ecosystem Building

Join us at the Nisolo warehouse for major discounts and exclusive access to samples, discontinued styles, colors, and sizes that are not available online.

The Problem

To understand the Nisolo Sustainability Framework and why we’re so passionate about sustainability, you have to understand how broken the fashion industry really is. Realistically, the current state of the multi-trillion dollar fashion industry and its impact on People and the Planet is one of the most pressing challenges facing the world today.

People

Experts estimate that 93% of fashion brands do not pay living wages* and less than 5% of the 100M people making clothing around the world receive a living wage that covers their most basic needs (Source: for all sources, see *Resources.) Worldwide, 95% of people making clothing are held in systemic poverty, and 75% of them are women between the ages of 18 and 24.

Planet

Creating up to 10% of the world’s carbon footprint, the fashion industry is one of the most offensive contributors to climate change, creating more emissions than the international aviation and shipping industries combined. Not only is fashion one of the top 5 most polluting industries due to dirty, unregulated manufacturing, but 85% of the clothes we wear end up in landfills even though 95% could be reused or recycled.

Greenwashing

Greenwashing, loosely defined as spending more time and money on marketing social and environmental friendliness than on initiatives that actually improve impact, has reached an all time high. Brands often oversimplify “Sustainability”and pursue the most marketable (and often cheapest) ‘green’ initiatives while conveniently ignoring everything else.

The Problem

To understand the Nisolo Sustainability Framework and why we’re so passionate about sustainability, you have to understand how broken the fashion industry really is. Realistically, the current state of the multi-trillion dollar fashion industry and its impact on People and the Planet is one of the most pressing challenges facing the world today.

People

Experts estimate that 93% of fashion brands do not pay living wages* and less than 5% of the 100M people making clothing around the world receive a living wage that covers their most basic needs (Source: For all sources see *Resources). Worldwide, 95% of people making clothing are held in systemic poverty, and 75% of them are women between the ages of 18 and 24.

Planet

Creating up to 10% of the world’s carbon footprint, the fashion industry is one of the most offensive contributors to climate change, creating more emissions than the international aviation and shipping industries combined. Not only is fashion one of the top 5 most polluting industries due to dirty, unregulated manufacturing, but 85% of the clothes we wear end up in landfills even though 95% could be reused or recycled.

Greenwashing

Greenwashing, loosely defined as spending more time and money on marketing social and environmental friendliness than on initiatives that actually improve impact, has reached an all time high. Brands often oversimplify “Sustainability”and pursue the most marketable (and often cheapest) ‘green’ initiatives while conveniently ignoring everything else.

To more tangibly absorb the magnitude of these problems, watch this 2 min trailer of The True Cost, a film by our friend Andrew Morgan that we played a small part in helping bring to life.

As you can see, these issues not only affect the planet and the more than 100M people working in the supply chain of the fashion industry but their children and communities as well.

Since we all buy clothes, we can all do something to change this.

The truth is that as consumers, we know a lot about the products we buy, but nothing about the hundreds of hands they touch or thousands of miles they travel before they get to us. While we remain in the dark, our dollars fund a broken industry. This is because today, transparency is just a buzzword and accountability is largely non-existent.

 

When it comes to People, the Planet, Transparency, Accountability, and Collaboration, the fashion industry must do better, and, thankfully, each and every one of us can help make that happen.

Our Vision

Our Vision for The Fashion Industry

Rather than the fashion industry continuing on its destructive path, we believe it can become one of the world’s most powerful conduits for social and environmental progress. We envision the industry reversing its impact on climate change and becoming one of society's most effective tools to help eradicate poverty within our lifetime.

How Do We Accomplish This?

The #1 way we can reduce fashion’s impact on the planet and future generations is to produce and consume less as a society. What’s just as critical, though, is shifting demand from the biggest offenders toward “sustainable” brands, and here’s why:

Considering that some of the most powerful companies in the world are fashion brands dependent on mass-consumption of cheaply made goods AND considering the notion that “consuming less” is countercultural in many countries today, meaningfully shifting global consumer behavior toward less consumption may take more than a half century—if ever achievable.

That’s 50+ years before we’ll know whether or not the “consume less” plan will work—and that’s a risk we don’t believe society should be willing to take.

Additionally, consuming less may be best for the planet in the long-run, but today, this approach negatively impacts the more than 100,000,000 people (and their families) whose livelihoods directly depend on consumer purchases.

Our vision is to convince the fashion industry to value our planet and the people who make the clothes and shoes we wear just as much as the industry values the dollars of end consumers.

Our Vision

This is why we’re all about less consumption AND shifting demand toward “sustainable” brands…

…if, of course, brands deemed “sustainable”are actually sustainable.

Our vision is to convince the fashion industry to value our planet and the people who make the clothes and shoes we wear just as much as the industry values the dollars of end consumers.

When it comes to People, the Planet, Transparency, Accountability and Collaboration, the fashion industry must do better, and, thankfully each and every
one of us can help make that happen.

Our Vision

Our Vision for The Fashion Industry

Rather than the fashion industry continuing on its destructive path, we believe it can become one of the world’s most powerful conduits for social and environmental progress. We envision the industry reversing its impact on climate change and becoming one of society's most effective tools to help eradicate poverty within our lifetime.

How do we accomplish this?

How do we accomplish this?

The #1 way we can reduce fashion’s impact on the planet and future generations is to produce and consume less as a society. What’s just as critical, though, is shifting demand from the biggest offenders toward “sustainable” brands, and here’s why:

Considering that some of the most powerful companies in the world are fashion brands dependent on mass-consumption of cheaply made goods AND considering the notion that “consuming less” is countercultural in many countries today, meaningfully shifting global consumer behavior toward less consumption may take more than a half century—if ever achievable.

That’s 50+ years before we’ll know whether or not the “consume less” plan will work—and that’s a risk we don’t believe society should be willing to take.

Additionally, consuming less may be best for the planet in the long-run, but today, this approach negatively impacts the more than 100,000,000 people (and their families) whose livelihoods directly depend on consumer purchases.

People:

Actively pursue 100% Living Wages that cover the basic needs of People within supply chains.

Planet:

Actively pursue 0% Net Carbon through the reduction and offsetting of all carbon emissions.

Transparency:

Measure, track, and publicly share Sustainability Facts across People AND Planet in a digestible, consumer-facing label.

Accountability:

Validate practices through widely-accepted 3rd Party Verifications & Certifications, and when unavailable, self-audit and publish progress within Sustainability.

Ecosystem Building:

Advocate for a sustainable fashion industry by supporting changemakers, legislation and working intersectionality with all stakeholders to better protect People and Planet.

We believe that when this Minimum Standard is adopted by all brands, the course of the fashion industry will be changed for good.


This is why we’re all about less consumption AND we’re shifting demand toward “sustainable” brands…

…if, of course, brands deemed “sustainable" are actually sustainable.

Today's reality, where brands are embraced as “sustainable” for things like launching
one-off ‘green’ initiatives and product lines, won’t get us there.

It’s not about one-off initiatives or just “people” or even just the “planet.” If we want fashion to change, “sustainable” needs to start meaning all of it, combined.

So, it’s time to shake things up again…

Our Vision

A New Standard for "Sustainable"

Following 10+ years of business and leveraging decades of sustainability acumen across our team, we’ve developed the Nisolo Sustainability Framework to hit reset on what it means to be “sustainable” and to push ourselves and the industry toward a far more holistic approach. In its entirety, our framework is intense (as you’ll see further down). But, we know that unless we can bring others along, our individual push for sustainability is in vain.

As consumers and as brands just getting started, we know we need something simpler to latch onto. So, we’ve stripped down the most critical pieces of our framework into a new, minimum standard for what we believe “sustainability” should mean:

1. People
Pursuing 100% living wages that cover the basic needs of People within supply chains.

2. Planet
Pursuing 0% Net Carbon through the reduction and offsetting of carbon emissions.

3. Transparency
Measuring, tracking, and publicly sharing Sustainability Facts, in a digestible, consumer-facing label.

4. Accountability
Validating practices through public-facing self assessment, 3rd party verification & certifications.

5. Collaboration
Advocating for a more sustainable industry through interdisciplinary collaboration.

While our framework goes more in depth into these 5 pillars, we’re convinced that if we can all work together to push brands toward this minimum standard for sustainability, the course of the fashion industry will change for good.

Now, let’s unpack the Nisolo Sustainability Framework in its entirety…

Today's reality, where brands are embraced as “sustainable” for things like launching one-off ‘green’ initiatives and product lines, won’t get us there.

It’s not about one-off initiatives or just “people” or even just the “planet.” If we want fashion to change, “sustainable” needs to start meaning all of it, combined.

So, it’s time to shake things up again…

Our Vision

A New Standard for "Sustainable"

Following 10+ years of business and leveraging decades of sustainability acumen across our team, we’ve developed the Nisolo Sustainability Framework to hit reset on what it means to be “sustainable” and to push ourselves and the industry toward a far more holistic approach. In its entirety, our framework is intense (as you’ll see further down). But, we know that unless we can bring others along, our individual push for sustainability is in vain.

As consumers and as brands just getting started, we know we need something simpler to latch onto. So, we’ve stripped down the most critical pieces of our framework into a new, minimum standard for what we believe “sustainability” should mean:

1. People
Pursuing 100% living wages that cover the basic needs of People within supply chains.

2. Planet
Pursuing 0% Net Carbon through reduction and offsetting of all carbon emissions.

3. Transparency
Measuring, tracking, and publicly sharing Sustainability Facts, in a digestible, consumer-facing label.

4. Accountability
Validating practices through public-facing self assessment, 3rd party verification & certifications.

5. Collaboration
Advocating for a more sustainable industry through interdisciplinary collaboration.

While our framework goes more in depth into these 5 pillars, we’re convinced that if we can all work together to push brands toward this minimum standard for sustainability, the course of the fashion industry will change for good.

Now, let’s unpack the Nisolo Sustainability Framework in its entirety…

Our vision is to convince the fashion industry to value our planet and the people who make the clothes and shoes we wear just as much as the industry values the dollars of end consumers.

People

People

1. People

Rather than continuing in the direction the fashion industry is currently heading, we envision it becoming a vehicle for eradicating poverty for hundreds of millions of the world’s most vulnerable people, and, in time, inspiring other industries to pull their stakeholders out of poverty as well. Making this a reality starts by demonstrating it can be done across our own supply chain.

“A brand’s corporate responsibility is only as effective as the most marginalized member of their supply chain says it is.” -Aja Barber

While the ‘North Star’ most fundamental component of how we think about People within our framework is focusing on pursuing 100% living wages, creating an environment where people can thrive within supply chains goes beyond this data point. This is why our framework focuses on six primary areas within People, which all of our 1st tier factories have committed to and signed off on within our Supplier Code of Conduct: Payment & Wages, Health & Safety, Governance & Workers’ Rights, Gender Equality & Empowerment, Healthcare & Benefits, and Racial Justice.

Payment & Wages

Fashion Industry Context:
93% of fashion brands are not paying factory workers a living wage that covers their basic needs of food, water, shelter, and healthcare (Source: Clean Clothes Campaign, 2020). Experts estimate that less than 5% of people making clothing around the world receive a living wage, meaning 95% of producers in the fashion industry are being held in systemic poverty. And, 75% of them are women between the ages of 18 and 24 (Source: Fashion Revolution, 2017). This is especially troubling in light of the fact that “if brands absorbed this entire cost of paying living wages within their supply chains, for mere pennies per product, it would cost them, individually, less than 1 percent of the price of a garment–that’s 17 cents on a $25 shirt.” (Source: Bédat, 2021) This is not a small problem. In fact, the fashion industry employs nearly 100 Million factory workers around the world (that’s a higher number than the population of over 220 different countries) (Source: Fashion United, 2017). Factoring in that many workers have children, the number of people this problem affects quickly becomes as large as the population of the United States, the 3rd largest country in the world.

Our Approach:
We pay 100% living wages to every producer in our 1st Tier factories. To learn more about our wages than what’s shared here, read this post. Providing a living wage is the foundation for creating a healthy and equitable work environment. It establishes an ethos of social responsibility, and influences other decisions that uplift workers. In our experience, we always find that factories that pay a living wage are also best in class across the other criteria we assess.

We monitor individual living wages through 3rd party wage research from MIT, WageIndicator, and Trading Economics, and family living wages through benchmarks provided by the Global Living Wage Coalition in all of the countries we operate in. To ensure that 100% of our workers receive an individual living wage, we track suppliers’ lowest wages. If the lowest wage is at or above the living wage, everyone in that factory is receiving a salary deemed sufficient by these organizations to cover their basic needs. Since the cost of living is always changing, we’ve increased our lowest wages to meet revised living wages on three separate occasions across two different countries in the last 18 months alone.

While wages are internally assessed for our suppliers in Mexico, Brazil, and Kenya, the factory we own and operate in Peru has undergone an in-depth 3rd party audit from Accountable (see findings here) that verified its wages are individual living wages. Today, 100% of workers at our Tier 1 suppliers receive an individual living wage, but no supplier is providing a family living wage to the majority of its workers. It’s on our sustainability roadmap to work with suppliers to provide 100% family living wages in the future and to dive much deeper into Tiers 2-4 of our supply chain in pursuit of living wages as well.

Health & Safety

Fashion Industry Context:
The fashion industry is responsible for one of the worst industrial accidents in the history of the world. The Rana Plaza factory collapse in 2013 killed 1,134 garment workers in Bangladesh. From fires to further collapses, almost a decade later, the fashion industry continues to be a deadly business with insufficient regulation for health and safety. High demand, short lead times, and razor-thin margins produce unsafe working environments where high production is prioritized while adherence to maintaining building integrity and fire code is often neglected.

Our Approach:
We partner with factories that clearly prioritize the health & safety of their workers. All of our suppliers have established health & safety systems, policies, responsible team members, and 3rd party verification in place to cultivate a safe and healthy workplace. All have completed an independent health & safety audit, and most have recurring audits. Every worker is trained regularly on occupational emergency preparedness and provided with personal protective equipment (PPE) and access to clean water and facilities. Moreover, workers are consulted on health & safety risks and play a critical role in improving health & safety practices by regularly meeting and collaborating with management.

To learn more about each factory’s practices pertaining to Health & Safety, read the Behind The Scenes of Our Operations blog post.

Governance & Workers’ Rights

Fashion Industry Context:
The fashion industry is flooded with human rights abuses including issues such as child and forced labor, long working hours, repression of freedom of association & bargaining, lack of job security, discrimination and violence, and little to no access to justice for those whose basic rights are violated at work. There are an estimated 152 million children between the ages of 5-17 years in child labor, half of whom are in hazardous work including Fashion’s supply chain (Source: ILO, 2017). The Walk Free Foundation (2018) produced a study based on data from 167 countries and interviews with 71,000 people in 52 languages and found that Fashion is one of the key industries contributing to modern slavery. According to Global Slavery Index, “clothing is at risk for directing the second-highest amount of money toward modern slavery, after tech.” (Source: Bédat, 2021)

Our Approach:
We champion work environments that uplift workers and their families by visiting our Tier 1 suppliers regularly and collaborating with HR teams to ensure they are elevating workers’ rights through maintaining ethical governance. We have NO child or forced labor in our supply chain, and all of our factories’ working hours are in compliance with national laws and the International Labour Organization. Every factory has systems established to eliminate and prevent discrimination, harassment, and abuse, and openly discloses rights to workers. All of our suppliers have policies, responsible team members, and 3rd party verification in place to guarantee workers’ rights are met. All suppliers allow for freedom of association and bargaining, and the majority of our suppliers have established career paths in place for workers to move their way up in the factory.

To learn more about each factory’s practices pertaining to Governance & Workers’ Rights, read the Behind The Scenes of Our Operations blog post.

Gender Equality & Empowerment

Fashion Industry Context:
It’s estimated that up to 80% of the fashion’s industry’s 75 Million workers are women between the ages of 18 and 24. While the fashion industry has the potential to eradicate poverty for tens of millions of women around the world (in addition to their families), 95%+ of fashion workers are held in systemic poverty, oftentimes in unsafe and abusive work environments. Additionally, an estimated 68% of fast fashion brands don’t maintain gender equality at production facilities (Source: Ethical Fashion Guide, 2019), and one in every two women workers in garment factories in Southeast Asia has experienced sexual harassment, according to on-the-ground reports from CARE International (2019). The industry is far from where it needs to be when it comes to assessing and improving its impact on women and their family members. While the industry could function as a platform for helping women achieve their aspirations, women are often trapped in poverty and experience other forms of trauma.

Our Approach:
We believe it’s possible to pull women and their dependents out of poverty by providing a living wage and a healthy, safe, and equitable work environment. All of our factories have a system in place to eradicate and prevent gender-based harassment, discrimination, and abuse. Health and safety precautions are taken for all women in the workplace, especially for those who are pregnant or nursing. Women and men are paid equally and given the same opportunities for promotions, and all of our factories’ leadership teams have women who represent, or in some cases exceed, 25% of management.

Our suppliers actively employ and empower women—in a leather footwear industry that primarily employs men, our partners provide job opportunities for women and train them to work in positions that are traditionally held by men. Most of our factories offer free health clinics to women and some provide a monthly stipend to all women with dependents.

To learn more about each factory’s practices pertaining to Gender Equality & Empowerment, read the Behind The Scenes of Our Operations blog post.

Healthcare & Benefits

Fashion Industry Context:
In an industry notorious for a classic “race to the bottom” where brands continuously shift production to countries with the lowest requirements for minimum wages, it’s not surprising that meaningful healthcare and benefits for workers are far from commonplace. In fact, the industry is so off course on this that when we assessed 31 of the top standards, assessments, and ratings systems pertaining to social and environmental impact as part of our research for building our Sustainability Facts Label, we found that none evaluate healthcare and benefits beyond a handful that assess only what’s required by law. Considering that much of the world’s clothing comes from either fast fashion brands or manufacturers in the informal economic sector in developing countries and emerging markets that have very few legal regulations, it’s fair to assume that the reason so little research exists on healthcare and benefits is because for the most part, they’re largely nonexistent.

Our Approach:
Living wages, access to healthcare, and generous benefits play a critical role in creating positive, cross-generational impact. All of our factories, at a minimum, provide benefits such as healthcare, paid time off, social security contributions (or equivalent), and financial bonuses. Additionally, most of our factories offer professional development training, opportunities for continued education, physical and mental health programming, and financial literacy resources. Providing benefits like these is why we believe we consistently see anonymous employee satisfaction rates of 90%+ in the factory we own and operate in Peru.

Within our supply chain, 75% of our factories provide opportunities for continued education such as hosting in-factory classes to help employees complete their secondary education and partnering with universities to provide discounts for those who want to pursue a college degree. Physical and mental health benefits are also provided at the majority of our factories. Some of our suppliers offer medical health training and clinics and even employ a doctor who works onsite. 50% of our suppliers offer training on topics ranging from nutrition and physical fitness to soft skills like stress management, conflict management, and how to practice healthy relationships. Half of our factories provide financial literacy training on how to budget and save, in addition to facilitating in-factory savings groups. Some of our suppliers go so far as to provide salary advances for family emergencies or other special circumstances. And, a few have funds set aside specifically to address needs through natural disasters and unforeseen macroeconomic challenges.

Benefits like these set our suppliers apart through the COVID-19 pandemic—as major brands around the world moved away from their workers by not even paying for purchase orders that had already been produced (leading to mass unemployment and accounts of hunger), we supported our suppliers in moving toward the workers within our supply chain through initiatives like the relief fund established in our factory in Peru.

Racial Justice

Fashion Industry Context:
For centuries now, the fashion industry has exacerbated racial injustice: many of the raw materials that make up the clothes we wear such as cotton, silk, indigo, etc. have historically been interconnected with slavery and slavery remains a prevalent issue within the fashion industry today (Source: Barber, 2021; ILO, 2016). Fast fashion’s race to produce the most clothes possible from the cheapest sources possible is holding tens of millions of people in poverty, the vast majority of whom are young BIPOC women subject to unsafe and abusive work environments. The fashion industry’s immense waste from the Global North is notorious for polluting the Global South, having a direct impact primarily on BIPOC communities (Source: The Or Foundation, 2021). A lack of BIPOC diversity in representation within every level of fashion companies, much less advertising at-large, has resulted in an ongoing power imbalance where BIPOC voices continue to be marginalized despite the fact that BIPOC communities are most affected by the negative impact of the fashion industry (Source: Barber, 2021).

Our Approach:
We have an opportunity to contribute toward progress within racial justice in the fashion industry by pursuing antiracism as an organization. We established Nisolo’s Racial Justice Plan of Action to leverage our business and its influence to help combat racism within the fashion industry. We are focused on six primary areas of action:
Team Learning – We believe that one of the most powerful tools of antiracism is education and learning. We are open in sharing our individual pursuits of antiracism in an appropriate way, reflecting and learning individually and as a team as we move toward greater awareness of biases and work to break down barriers.
Internal Process & Management – We strive to adhere to internal systems and processes that empower antiracist initiatives throughout the organization.
Recruitment – We seek to hire a diverse community of employees, with BIPOC representation throughout the organization.
Partnering with BIPOC Owned Businesses – We seek to identify, connect with, uplift, and partner with BIPOC owned businesses who offer excellent products and services.
Community Involvement – We seek to strengthen relationships and greater justice for the BIPOC communities in the locations where we operate.
Branded Content – We intend to strengthen and continue demonstrating a racially diverse community to our customers through our branded content.

To learn more about our holistic approach to People within the Nisolo Sustainability Framework, please reference the following posts where we dive deeper into specific initiatives impacting People within our supply chain: Sustainability Facts Label Methodology, Lowest & Living Wages, Why Nisolo Is A Top Rated Certified B Corporation, and Behind The Scenes of Our Operations.

Our Vision

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1. People

Rather than continuing in the direction the fashion industry is currently heading, we envision it becoming a vehicle for eradicating poverty for hundreds of millions of the world’s most vulnerable people, and, in time, inspiring other industries to pull their stakeholders out of poverty as well. Making this a reality starts by demonstrating it can be done across our own supply chain.

“A brand’s corporate responsibility is only as effective as the most marginalized member of their supply chain says it is.” -Aja Barber

While the ‘North Star’ most fundamental component of how we think about People within our framework is focusing on pursuing 100% living wages, creating an environment where people can thrive within supply chains goes beyond this data point. This is why our framework focuses on six primary areas within People, which all of our 1st tier factories have committed to and signed off on within our Supplier Code of Conduct: Payment & Wages, Health & Safety, Governance & Workers’ Rights, Gender Equality & Empowerment, Healthcare & Benefits, and Racial Justice.

Payment & Wages

Fashion Industry Context:
93% of fashion brands are not paying factory workers a living wage that covers their basic needs of food, water, shelter, and healthcare (Source: Clean Clothes Campaign, 2020). Experts estimate that less than 5% of people making clothing around the world receive a living wage, meaning 95% of producers in the fashion industry are being held in systemic poverty. And, 75% of them are women between the ages of 18 and 24 (Source: Fashion Revolution, 2017). This is especially troubling in light of the fact that “if brands absorbed this entire cost of paying living wages within their supply chains, for mere pennies per product, it would cost them, individually, less than 1 percent of the price of a garment–that’s 17 cents on a $25 shirt.” (Source: Bédat, 2021) This is not a small problem. In fact, the fashion industry employs nearly 100 Million factory workers around the world (that’s a higher number than the population of over 220 different countries) (Source: Fashion United, 2017). Factoring in that many workers have children, the number of people this problem affects quickly becomes as large as the population of the United States, the 3rd largest country in the world.

Our Approach:
We pay 100% living wages to every producer in our 1st Tier factories. To learn more about our wages than what’s shared here, read this post. Providing a living wage is the foundation for creating a healthy and equitable work environment. It establishes an ethos of social responsibility, and influences other decisions that uplift workers. In our experience, we always find that factories that pay a living wage are also best in class across the other criteria we assess.

We monitor individual living wages through 3rd party wage research from MIT, WageIndicator, and Trading Economics, and family living wages through benchmarks provided by the Global Living Wage Coalition in all of the countries we operate in. To ensure that 100% of our workers receive an individual living wage, we track suppliers’ lowest wages. If the lowest wage is at or above the living wage, everyone in that factory is receiving a salary deemed sufficient by these organizations to cover their basic needs. Since the cost of living is always changing, we’ve increased our lowest wages to meet revised living wages on three separate occasions across two different countries in the last 18 months alone.

While wages are internally assessed for our suppliers in Mexico, Brazil, and Kenya, the factory we own and operate in Peru has undergone an in-depth 3rd party audit from Accountable (see findings here) that verified its wages are individual living wages. Today, 100% of workers at our Tier 1 suppliers receive an individual living wage, but no supplier is providing a family living wage to the majority of its workers. It’s on our sustainability roadmap to work with suppliers to provide 100% family living wages in the future and to dive much deeper into Tiers 2-4 of our supply chain in pursuit of living wages as well.

Health & Safety

Fashion Industry Context:
The fashion industry is responsible for one of the worst industrial accidents in the history of the world. The Rana Plaza factory collapse in 2013 killed 1,134 garment workers in Bangladesh. From fires to further collapses, almost a decade later, the fashion industry continues to be a deadly business with insufficient regulation for health and safety. High demand, short lead times, and razor-thin margins produce unsafe working environments where high production is prioritized while adherence to maintaining building integrity and fire code is often neglected.

Our Approach:
We partner with factories that clearly prioritize the health & safety of their workers. All of our suppliers have established health & safety systems, policies, responsible team members, and 3rd party verification in place to cultivate a safe and healthy workplace. All have completed an independent health & safety audit, and most have recurring audits. Every worker is trained regularly on occupational emergency preparedness and provided with personal protective equipment (PPE) and access to clean water and facilities. Moreover, workers are consulted on health & safety risks and play a critical role in improving health & safety practices by regularly meeting and collaborating with management.

To learn more about each factory’s practices pertaining to Health & Safety, read the Behind The Scenes of Our Operations blog post.

Governance & Workers’ Rights

Fashion Industry Context:
The fashion industry is flooded with human rights abuses including issues such as child and forced labor, long working hours, repression of freedom of association & bargaining, lack of job security, discrimination and violence, and little to no access to justice for those whose basic rights are violated at work. There are an estimated 152 million children between the ages of 5-17 years in child labor, half of whom are in hazardous work including Fashion’s supply chain (Source: ILO, 2017). The Walk Free Foundation (2018) produced a study based on data from 167 countries and interviews with 71,000 people in 52 languages and found that Fashion is one of the key industries contributing to modern slavery. According to Global Slavery Index, “clothing is at risk for directing the second-highest amount of money toward modern slavery, after tech.” (Source: Bédat, 2021)

Our Approach:
We champion work environments that uplift workers and their families by visiting our Tier 1 suppliers regularly and collaborating with HR teams to ensure they are elevating workers’ rights through maintaining ethical governance. We have NO child or forced labor in our supply chain, and all of our factories’ working hours are in compliance with national laws and the International Labour Organization. Every factory has systems established to eliminate and prevent discrimination, harassment, and abuse, and openly discloses rights to workers. All of our suppliers have policies, responsible team members, and 3rd party verification in place to guarantee workers’ rights are met. All suppliers allow for freedom of association and bargaining, and the majority of our suppliers have established career paths in place for workers to move their way up in the factory.

To learn more about each factory’s practices pertaining to Governance & Workers’ Rights, read the Behind The Scenes of Our Operations blog post.

Gender Equality & Empowerment

Fashion Industry Context:
It’s estimated that up to 80% of the fashion’s industry’s 75 Million workers are women between the ages of 18 and 24. While the fashion industry has the potential to eradicate poverty for tens of millions of women around the world (in addition to their families), 95%+ of fashion workers are held in systemic poverty, oftentimes in unsafe and abusive work environments. Additionally, an estimated 68% of fast fashion brands don’t maintain gender equality at production facilities (Source: Ethical Fashion Guide, 2019), and one in every two women workers in garment factories in Southeast Asia has experienced sexual harassment, according to on-the-ground reports from CARE International (2019). The industry is far from where it needs to be when it comes to assessing and improving its impact on women and their family members. While the industry could function as a platform for helping women achieve their aspirations, women are often trapped in poverty and experience other forms of trauma.

Our Approach:
We believe it’s possible to pull women and their dependents out of poverty by providing a living wage and a healthy, safe, and equitable work environment. All of our factories have a system in place to eradicate and prevent gender-based harassment, discrimination, and abuse. Health and safety precautions are taken for all women in the workplace, especially for those who are pregnant or nursing. Women and men are paid equally and given the same opportunities for promotions, and all of our factories’ leadership teams have women who represent, or in some cases exceed, 25% of management.

Our suppliers actively employ and empower women—in a leather footwear industry that primarily employs men, our partners provide job opportunities for women and train them to work in positions that are traditionally held by men. Most of our factories offer free health clinics to women and some provide a monthly stipend to all women with dependents.

To learn more about each factory’s practices pertaining to Gender Equality & Empowerment, read the Behind The Scenes of Our Operations blog post.

Healthcare & Benefits

Fashion Industry Context:
In an industry notorious for a classic “race to the bottom” where brands continuously shift production to countries with the lowest requirements for minimum wages, it’s not surprising that meaningful healthcare and benefits for workers are far from commonplace. In fact, the industry is so off course on this that when we assessed 31 of the top standards, assessments, and ratings systems pertaining to social and environmental impact as part of our research for building our Sustainability Facts Label, we found that none evaluate healthcare and benefits beyond a handful that assess only what’s required by law. Considering that much of the world’s clothing comes from either fast fashion brands or manufacturers in the informal economic sector in developing countries and emerging markets that have very few legal regulations, it’s fair to assume that the reason so little research exists on healthcare and benefits is because for the most part, they’re largely nonexistent.

Our Approach:
Living wages, access to healthcare, and generous benefits play a critical role in creating positive, cross-generational impact. All of our factories, at a minimum, provide benefits such as healthcare, paid time off, social security contributions (or equivalent), and financial bonuses. Additionally, most of our factories offer professional development training, opportunities for continued education, physical and mental health programming, and financial literacy resources. Providing benefits like these is why we believe we consistently see anonymous employee satisfaction rates of 90%+ in the factory we own and operate in Peru.

Within our supply chain, 75% of our factories provide opportunities for continued education such as hosting in-factory classes to help employees complete their secondary education and partnering with universities to provide discounts for those who want to pursue a college degree. Physical and mental health benefits are also provided at the majority of our factories. Some of our suppliers offer medical health training and clinics and even employ a doctor who works onsite. 50% of our suppliers offer training on topics ranging from nutrition and physical fitness to soft skills like stress management, conflict management, and how to practice healthy relationships. Half of our factories provide financial literacy training on how to budget and save, in addition to facilitating in-factory savings groups. Some of our suppliers go so far as to provide salary advances for family emergencies or other special circumstances. And, a few have funds set aside specifically to address needs through natural disasters and unforeseen macroeconomic challenges.

Benefits like these set our suppliers apart through the COVID-19 pandemic—as major brands around the world moved away from their workers by not even paying for purchase orders that had already been produced (leading to mass unemployment and accounts of hunger), we supported our suppliers in moving toward the workers within our supply chain through initiatives like the relief fund established in our factory in Peru.

Racial Justice

Fashion Industry Context:
For centuries now, the fashion industry has exacerbated racial injustice: many of the raw materials that make up the clothes we wear such as cotton, silk, indigo, etc. have historically been interconnected with slavery and slavery remains a prevalent issue within the fashion industry today (Source: Barber, 2021; ILO, 2016). Fast fashion’s race to produce the most clothes possible from the cheapest sources possible is holding tens of millions of people in poverty, the vast majority of whom are young BIPOC women subject to unsafe and abusive work environments. The fashion industry’s immense waste from the Global North is notorious for polluting the Global South, having a direct impact primarily on BIPOC communities (Source: The Or Foundation, 2021). A lack of BIPOC diversity in representation within every level of fashion companies, much less advertising at-large, has resulted in an ongoing power imbalance where BIPOC voices continue to be marginalized despite the fact that BIPOC communities are most affected by the negative impact of the fashion industry (Source: Barber, 2021).

Our Approach:
We have an opportunity to contribute toward progress within racial justice in the fashion industry by pursuing antiracism as an organization. We established Nisolo’s Racial Justice Plan of Action to leverage our business and its influence to help combat racism within the fashion industry. We are focused on six primary areas of action:
Team Learning – We believe that one of the most powerful tools of antiracism is education and learning. We are open in sharing our individual pursuits of antiracism in an appropriate way, reflecting and learning individually and as a team as we move toward greater awareness of biases and work to break down barriers.
Internal Process & Management – We strive to adhere to internal systems and processes that empower antiracist initiatives throughout the organization.
Recruitment – We seek to hire a diverse community of employees, with BIPOC representation throughout the organization.
Partnering with BIPOC Owned Businesses – We seek to identify, connect with, uplift, and partner with BIPOC owned businesses who offer excellent products and services.
Community Involvement – We seek to strengthen relationships and greater justice for the BIPOC communities in the locations where we operate.
Branded Content – We intend to strengthen and continue demonstrating a racially diverse community to our customers through our branded content.

To learn more about our holistic approach to People within the Nisolo Sustainability Framework, please reference the following posts where we dive deeper into specific initiatives impacting People within our supply chain: Sustainability Facts Label Methodology, Lowest & Living Wages, Why Nisolo Is A Top Rated Certified B Corporation, and Behind The Scenes of Our Operations.

We believe that when this Minimum Standard is adopted by all brands, the course of the fashion industry will be changed for good.

Planet

Planet

2. Planet

Rather than fashion continuing as a top 5 polluting industry creating up to 10% of the world’s carbon footprint, we believe it can reverse its impact on climate change and inspire other industries to do the same. In contrast to the industry’s current “take, make, and dispose” model, we believe in pursuing a “circular” approach to fashion that takes environmental impact into account at every stage—from initial design to the sourcing of raw materials to manufacturing to logistics through to post-use product lifecycle, and everywhere in between.

While the “North Star” most fundamental component of how we think about Planet within our framework is focusing on pursuing 0% Net Carbon through the reduction and offsetting of all carbon emissions, we embrace a holistic approach to environmental impact by focusing on the following 5 areas: Carbon Footprint, Raw Materials Integrity & Durability, Processing & Manufacturing, Packaging & Distribution, and Circularity & Post Use Product Lifecycle.

Carbon Footprint

Fashion Industry Context:
Creating 1.2 billion tons of annual greenhouse gas emissions and on pace to account for 26% of emissions by 2050, the fashion industry is one of the worst contributors to climate change, creating more emissions than the international aviation and maritime shipping industries combined (Source: Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2017). Brands are starting to monitor their carbon emissions due to pressure from consumers and other advocate groups. Still though, a significant amount of the industry has taken no action, which is concerning in light of the most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change making the scientific case that we must decarbonize entire industries far more rapidly if we are going to meet the 1.5 degree global warming threshold.

Our Approach:
Everything we make has an impact on the planet, which is why we measure, strive to reduce, and ensure we offset 100% of our carbon emissions. Since 2018, we have offset the carbon emissions of everything we have produced by partnering with Ecosphere+ to invest in forest conservation in the Peruvian Amazon. Our program focuses on keeping the threatened forests of the Amazon alive and protected while creating sustainable livelihood opportunities for its indigenous communities. As a Climate Neutral Certified brand, our carbon footprint is verified annually by a 3rd party, and we offset 100% of our emissions through verified conservation work. Additionally, we recently began measuring our emissions at the product level through Doconomy’s 2030 Calculator so that we can scale our reduction efforts. Moreover, we publicly share the carbon footprint of every Nisolo branded footwear and accessory item on our product pages as best we can so that consumers have visibility into the carbon footprint of the specific products they are purchasing.

To learn more about our carbon footprint and conservation work, feel free to explore this post.

Raw Materials Integrity & Durability

Fashion Industry Context:
As much as 90% of a product’s environmental impact is determined during the design stage when raw materials are determined. Sadly, most of the raw materials for the clothes we wear are derived from oil and fossil fuels—63% of textile fibers are derived from petrochemicals that take centuries to degrade in landfills (Source: Journal of Cleaner Production, 2018). “Nearly 70 million barrels of oil are used each year to make the world’s polyester fiber, which is now the most commonly used fiber in our clothing. But it takes more than 200 years to decompose” (Forbes, 2015). These low quality materials make our clothes less durable and unfortunately more disposable.

The fashion industry is operating under a linear “take, make, and dispose” model that’s having a detrimental and oftentimes irreversible impact. A significant amount of the raw materials that make up our clothing originate from our natural environment, and the fashion industry is responsible for changing the physical landscape of our planet for the worse. Fashion is projected to use 35% more land for fiber and textile production by 2030—an extra 115 million hectares that could be left to preserve biodiversity (Source: Global Fashion Agenda, 2017).

Our Approach:
We strive to design and manufacture with raw materials that are timeless, durable, easy to care for and easy on the environment. We do not use any oil-based materials or synthetics like polyester in our primary raw materials and are committed to never using plastic or fossil fuel based materials unless they are 100% recycled and recyclable at the end of their life. We actively look for ways to upcycle waste into new products across our line. We are beginning to work with recycled PET (RPET) by upcycling post-consumer recycled water bottles into knit materials for sneakers and other products. We’re also innovating with a sugar-based EVA foam for outsoles and various forms of Green EVA for insoles as well. Additionally, the artisans in Kenya who manufacture our jewelry upcycle brass and other metal waste into new products across our jewelry line. We are committed to ensuring the Five Freedoms of animal welfare are met within our supply chain. We have a strict commitment to never use exotic skins (e.g., ostrich, crocodile, kangaroo, elephant, lizard, snake, etc.), or fur for our products due to the historic animal rights abuses of these industries.

One of our company’s core values is to “continuously improve.” It’s a mindset that affects our decision-making at every level of the business. Naturally, we applied this to our use of leather as a primary raw material, and a few years ago, this led to one of the most expensive external consulting projects we’ve ever done. The objective of the project was to assess every raw material option for our products in order to find better options than conventional leather. Our expert consultants scoured suppliers and innovators from all over the world, but we were disheartened by the global market’s offering of leather alternatives. We found that most alternative materials marketed as “sustainable” still had significantly negative environmental impacts. While they appeared to be “plant-based” or “green” at face value, when we dug deeper, we found that a large percentage of the materials were made with virgin plastic. It turned out that a lot of “vegan” options were just sophisticated greenwashing. Alternatives that met our product aesthetic did not hold up from a durability perspective. We explored options like pineapple and cactus leather, plus a variety of other natural options, but none of them held up like conventional leather, which means they ultimately ran the risk of creating more waste and environmental impact. Next-generation leathers (e.g., mushroom leather, lab-grown leather, etc.) either didn’t work well for footwear or had a pay-to-play model. For instance, it would have cost us $1M to get a viable run of mushroom leather or buy into some of the lab grown options in the works. As a small, under-resourced brand, we do not have the capital to work with these materials at scale. That said, we continue to evaluate new options, and we hope next-generation leathers will be more accessible in the future.

Today, much of our product offering is made with leather as a raw material. When used irresponsibly, leather can be harmful to the environment. After a decade trying to understand leather on a more holistic level and evaluating alternatives, we’ve come to embrace leather as one of the more sustainable options available for high-quality, durable footwear and accessories when made and processed responsibly. We consider the leather we work with an economic by-product of the meat industry, as we divert hides from immediately ending up in landfills by responsibly manufacturing them into shoes and accessories.

To learn more about our holistic approach to raw materials evaluation as well as how we are using leather in a sustainable manner, see more here.

Processing & Manufacturing

Fashion Industry Context:
The fashion industry relies heavily on natural resources and hazardous chemicals to manufacture its products. “Freshwater is a highly limited commodity and its supply is diminishing. A full two thirds of the world’s population are projected to face water scarcity by 2025, according to the UN. This is not because water molecules are disappearing; it’s because existing freshwater is getting polluted, rendering it unsafe for human consumption, and the chemicals from our clothing contribute to this water crisis.” (Source: Bédat, 2021) As much as 20% of industrial water pollution comes from washing, solvents, and dyes (Source: Mckinsey, 2020), and if the water and chemical waste from making our clothes isn’t treated, it will run off into natural waterways and create serious health problems for nearby communities and the planet at large (Source: The True Cost, 2015). Additionally, microplastics from our clothing are winding up in rivers and oceans that pollute marine ecosystems at alarming rates—fashion accounts for 20 to 35 percent of microplastic flows into the ocean (Source: Mckinsey, 2020). Even if factories comply with local legislation for managing chemicals, water usage, and energy, the fashion industry is still largely unregulated, especially in the deeper tiers of the supply chain.

Our Approach:
We personally visit and vet all of our 1st and 2nd tier suppliers to ensure they have systems in place to monitor and improve chemical management, water use & wastewater treatment, energy consumption, and waste generation & recycling. We are a Leather Working Group member and 95% of our leathers are Leather Working Group Certified, which means they have been evaluated and certified for best practices against the following criteria: material traceability, environmental management system, restricted substances, energy consumption, water usage, air and noise emissions, waste management, effluent treatment, health, safety, and emergency preparedness, chemical management, and operations management. 100% of our leathers will be LWG Certified within the next 24 months, at most.

A significant share of our supply chain is powered by renewable energy. We installed solar panels on the roof of our factory in Peru, which generate power for the facility. And one of our factory partners in Mexico is installing solar energy alternatives with our support later this year.

To learn more about our manufacturing facilities as well as how we ensure our leathers are processed responsibly, see this post and this post.

Packaging & Distribution

Fashion Industry Context:
Packaging for the clothes and shoes we wear is often composed of single-use plastics and materials that immediately wind up in landfills. Shipping emissions to us as customers also contribute significantly to Fashion’s carbon footprint. “The fashion industry has long been dependent on plastic for wrapping, hanging, tagging and shipping…in just the U.S. alone, 380 billion plastic bags and wraps are used each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Many of these single-use plastics are not recycled or disposed of properly” (Source: Triple Pundit, 2021). Much of the fashion industry is transitioning towards more environmentally responsible packaging, but the volume of packaging and high concentration of plastic is still a significant concern.

Our Approach:
We are committed to improving packaging materials, recyclability, and reducing shipping emissions. We measure and strive to offset 100% of our upstream (factory to distribution center) and downstream (distribution center to customer) shipping, and have achieved reductions in shipping emissions by relying more heavily on ocean and ground shipments vs. air over the last few years. The majority of our packaging is made from recycled corrugated cardboard and is fully recyclable. Additionally, we are in the process of overhauling our packaging to make it even more environmentally responsible. And, we plan to reduce packaging materials and impacts in half by using a single box instead of double boxing our products for the majority of our products by the end of 2022 forward.

Circularity & Post Use Product Lifecycle

Fashion Industry Context:
With the rise of fast fashion in the 1990s, our clothes became cheaper and more disposable than ever before. The vast majority of clothing is made from virgin raw materials under a linear “take, make, dispose” model. American shoppers are buying five times more now than they did in 1980, which averages out to 68 garments per year (Source: Rent The Runway, 2018). Each piece is only worn a handful of times before it gets tossed, and estimates range from three to seven wears in total, on average. This increased consumption correlates with increased fashion waste—between 1999 to 2009 post consumer textile waste grew by 40% (Source: Environmental Protection Agency, 2009). Rubber, leather, and textiles make up more than 9% of municipal solid waste in the United States, and the average American throws out 81 pounds of clothing every year (Source: Environmental Protection Agency, 2016). Perhaps the worst part all of this is that 95% of our clothing and shoes can be recycled or reused, yet 85% ends up in landfills and can take decades (sometimes even centuries) to biodegrade (Source: Council for Textile Recycling, 2021).

Our Approach:
We embrace Circularity as a brand and strive to take environmental impact into account at all stages ranging from initial design, to the sourcing of materials, to manufacturing, to logistics to the final customer, to the end lifecycle of products post consumer use, and all steps in between. We give new life to what was once considered waste and are striving to use more post-consumer recycled PET (RPET) on products where possible in addition to continuing to upcycle brass and scrap metal into jewelry.

Our intention is to keep our products in use as long as possible, which is why we focus on providing leather cleaning kits and products that better care for our goods in addition to educating our customers on how to maintain our products. We resell flawed and damaged products we receive back from customers or from our suppliers at a discounted rate to ensure that everything we produce gets utilized. And, we are in the process of determining a Resale platform and Repair strategy that will accelerate and scale our ability to better care and extend the life cycle of used and worn out products.

At the end of the product life, we encourage customers to recycle and dispose of their products responsibly through our takeback program with Soles4Souls (S4S). Since launching this program, we have collected and diverted over 7,000 pairs of used shoes from landfills. Soles4Souls’ programs are distinct from typical distribution schemes that wind up polluting the Global South, and 0% of donated products go straight to landfills or incinerators.

Learn more about our takeback program here.

Everything we make impacts the planet. One-off green initiatives and product lines will not solve fashion’s challenges. Circularity and a holistic approach to environmental responsibility is the only way forward. To learn more, see Behind The Scenes of Our Operations, Why Nisolo Is A Top Rated Certified B Corporation, How Our 0% Net Carbon Commitment Combats Climate Change, and our Sustainability Facts Label Methodology.

2. Planet

Rather than fashion continuing as a top 5 polluting industry creating up to 10% of the world’s carbon footprint, we believe it can reverse its impact on climate change and inspire other industries to do the same. In contrast to the industry’s current “take, make, and dispose” model, we believe in pursuing a “circular” approach to fashion that takes environmental impact into account at every stage—from initial design to the sourcing of raw materials to manufacturing to logistics through to post-use product lifecycle, and everywhere in between.

While the “North Star” most fundamental component of how we think about Planet within our framework is focusing on pursuing 0% Net Carbon through the reduction and offsetting of all carbon emissions, we embrace a holistic approach to environmental impact by focusing on the following 5 areas: Carbon Footprint, Raw Materials Integrity & Durability, Processing & Manufacturing, Packaging & Distribution, and Circularity & Post Use Product Lifecycle.

Carbon Footprint

Fashion Industry Context:
Creating 1.2 billion tons of annual greenhouse gas emissions and on pace to account for 26% of emissions by 2050, the fashion industry is one of the worst contributors to climate change, creating more emissions than the international aviation and maritime shipping industries combined (Source: Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2017). Brands are starting to monitor their carbon emissions due to pressure from consumers and other advocate groups. Still though, a significant amount of the industry has taken no action, which is concerning in light of the most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change making the scientific case that we must decarbonize entire industries far more rapidly if we are going to meet the 1.5 degree global warming threshold.

Our Approach:
Everything we make has an impact on the planet, which is why we measure, strive to reduce, and ensure we offset 100% of our carbon emissions. Since 2018, we have offset the carbon emissions of everything we have produced by partnering with Ecosphere+ to invest in forest conservation in the Peruvian Amazon. Our program focuses on keeping the threatened forests of the Amazon alive and protected while creating sustainable livelihood opportunities for its indigenous communities. As a Climate Neutral Certified brand, our carbon footprint is verified annually by a 3rd party, and we offset 100% of our emissions through verified conservation work. Additionally, we recently began measuring our emissions at the product level through Doconomy’s 2030 Calculator so that we can scale our reduction efforts. Moreover, we publicly share the carbon footprint of every Nisolo branded footwear and accessory item on our product pages as best we can so that consumers have visibility into the carbon footprint of the specific products they are purchasing.

To learn more about our carbon footprint and conservation work, feel free to explore this post.

Raw Materials Integrity & Durability

Fashion Industry Context:
As much as 90% of a product’s environmental impact is determined during the design stage when raw materials are determined. Sadly, most of the raw materials for the clothes we wear are derived from oil and fossil fuels—63% of textile fibers are derived from petrochemicals that take centuries to degrade in landfills (Source: Journal of Cleaner Production, 2018). “Nearly 70 million barrels of oil are used each year to make the world’s polyester fiber, which is now the most commonly used fiber in our clothing. But it takes more than 200 years to decompose” (Forbes, 2015). These low quality materials make our clothes less durable and unfortunately more disposable.

The fashion industry is operating under a linear “take, make, and dispose” model that’s having a detrimental and oftentimes irreversible impact. A significant amount of the raw materials that make up our clothing originate from our natural environment, and the fashion industry is responsible for changing the physical landscape of our planet for the worse. Fashion is projected to use 35% more land for fiber and textile production by 2030—an extra 115 million hectares that could be left to preserve biodiversity (Source: Global Fashion Agenda, 2017).

Our Approach:
We strive to design and manufacture with raw materials that are timeless, durable, easy to care for and easy on the environment. We do not use any oil-based materials or synthetics like polyester in our primary raw materials and are committed to never using plastic or fossil fuel based materials unless they are 100% recycled and recyclable at the end of their life. We actively look for ways to upcycle waste into new products across our line. We are beginning to work with recycled PET (RPET) by upcycling post-consumer recycled water bottles into knit materials for sneakers and other products. We’re also innovating with a sugar-based EVA foam for outsoles and various forms of Green EVA for insoles as well. Additionally, the artisans in Kenya who manufacture our jewelry upcycle brass and other metal waste into new products across our jewelry line. We are committed to ensuring the Five Freedoms of animal welfare are met within our supply chain. We have a strict commitment to never use exotic skins (e.g., ostrich, crocodile, kangaroo, elephant, lizard, snake, etc.), or fur for our products due to the historic animal rights abuses of these industries.

One of our company’s core values is to “continuously improve.” It’s a mindset that affects our decision-making at every level of the business. Naturally, we applied this to our use of leather as a primary raw material, and a few years ago, this led to one of the most expensive external consulting projects we’ve ever done. The objective of the project was to assess every raw material option for our products in order to find better options than conventional leather. Our expert consultants scoured suppliers and innovators from all over the world, but we were disheartened by the global market’s offering of leather alternatives. We found that most alternative materials marketed as “sustainable” still had significantly negative environmental impacts. While they appeared to be “plant-based” or “green” at face value, when we dug deeper, we found that a large percentage of the materials were made with virgin plastic. It turned out that a lot of “vegan” options were just sophisticated greenwashing. Alternatives that met our product aesthetic did not hold up from a durability perspective. We explored options like pineapple and cactus leather, plus a variety of other natural options, but none of them held up like conventional leather, which means they ultimately ran the risk of creating more waste and environmental impact. Next-generation leathers (e.g., mushroom leather, lab-grown leather, etc.) either didn’t work well for footwear or had a pay-to-play model. For instance, it would have cost us $1M to get a viable run of mushroom leather or buy into some of the lab grown options in the works. As a small, under-resourced brand, we do not have the capital to work with these materials at scale. That said, we continue to evaluate new options, and we hope next-generation leathers will be more accessible in the future.

Today, much of our product offering is made with leather as a raw material. When used irresponsibly, leather can be harmful to the environment. After a decade trying to understand leather on a more holistic level and evaluating alternatives, we’ve come to embrace leather as one of the more sustainable options available for high-quality, durable footwear and accessories when made and processed responsibly. We consider the leather we work with an economic by-product of the meat industry, as we divert hides from immediately ending up in landfills by responsibly manufacturing them into shoes and accessories.

To learn more about our holistic approach to raw materials evaluation as well as how we are using leather in a sustainable manner, see more here.

 

Processing & Manufacturing

Fashion Industry Context:
The fashion industry relies heavily on natural resources and hazardous chemicals to manufacture its products. “Freshwater is a highly limited commodity and its supply is diminishing. A full two thirds of the world’s population are projected to face water scarcity by 2025, according to the UN. This is not because water molecules are disappearing; it’s because existing freshwater is getting polluted, rendering it unsafe for human consumption, and the chemicals from our clothing contribute to this water crisis.” (Source: Bédat, 2021) As much as 20% of industrial water pollution comes from washing, solvents, and dyes (Source: Mckinsey, 2020), and if the water and chemical waste from making our clothes isn’t treated, it will run off into natural waterways and create serious health problems for nearby communities and the planet at large (Source: The True Cost, 2015). Additionally, microplastics from our clothing are winding up in rivers and oceans that pollute marine ecosystems at alarming rates—fashion accounts for 20 to 35 percent of microplastic flows into the ocean (Source: Mckinsey, 2020). Even if factories comply with local legislation for managing chemicals, water usage, and energy, the fashion industry is still largely unregulated, especially in the deeper tiers of the supply chain.

Our Approach:
We personally visit and vet all of our 1st and 2nd tier suppliers to ensure they have systems in place to monitor and improve chemical management, water use & wastewater treatment, energy consumption, and waste generation & recycling. We are a Leather Working Group member and 95% of our leathers are Leather Working Group Certified, which means they have been evaluated and certified for best practices against the following criteria: material traceability, environmental management system, restricted substances, energy consumption, water usage, air and noise emissions, waste management, effluent treatment, health, safety, and emergency preparedness, chemical management, and operations management. 100% of our leathers will be LWG Certified within the next 24 months, at most.

A significant share of our supply chain is powered by renewable energy. We installed solar panels on the roof of our factory in Peru, which generate power for the facility. And one of our factory partners in Mexico is installing solar energy alternatives with our support later this year.

To learn more about our manufacturing facilities as well as how we ensure our leathers are processed responsibly, see this post and this post.

Packaging & Distribution

Fashion Industry Context:
Packaging for the clothes and shoes we wear is often composed of single-use plastics and materials that immediately wind up in landfills. Shipping emissions to us as customers also contribute significantly to Fashion’s carbon footprint. “The fashion industry has long been dependent on plastic for wrapping, hanging, tagging and shipping…in just the U.S. alone, 380 billion plastic bags and wraps are used each year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Many of these single-use plastics are not recycled or disposed of properly” (Source: Triple Pundit, 2021). Much of the fashion industry is transitioning towards more environmentally responsible packaging, but the volume of packaging and high concentration of plastic is still a significant concern.

Our Approach:
We are committed to improving packaging materials, recyclability, and reducing shipping emissions. We measure and strive to offset 100% of our upstream (factory to distribution center) and downstream (distribution center to customer) shipping, and have achieved reductions in shipping emissions by relying more heavily on ocean and ground shipments vs. air over the last few years. The majority of our packaging is made from recycled corrugated cardboard and is fully recyclable. Additionally, we are in the process of overhauling our packaging to make it even more environmentally responsible. And, we plan to reduce packaging materials and impacts in half by using a single box instead of double boxing our products for the majority of our products by the end of 2022 forward.

Circularity & Post Use Product Lifecycle

Fashion Industry Context:
With the rise of fast fashion in the 1990s, our clothes became cheaper and more disposable than ever before. The vast majority of clothing is made from virgin raw materials under a linear “take, make, dispose” model. American shoppers are buying five times more now than they did in 1980, which averages out to 68 garments per year (Source: Rent The Runway, 2018). Each piece is only worn a handful of times before it gets tossed, and estimates range from three to seven wears in total, on average. This increased consumption correlates with increased fashion waste—between 1999 to 2009 post consumer textile waste grew by 40% (Source: Environmental Protection Agency, 2009). Rubber, leather, and textiles make up more than 9% of municipal solid waste in the United States, and the average American throws out 81 pounds of clothing every year (Source: Environmental Protection Agency, 2016). Perhaps the worst part all of this is that 95% of our clothing and shoes can be recycled or reused, yet 85% ends up in landfills and can take decades (sometimes even centuries) to biodegrade (Source: Council for Textile Recycling, 2021).

Our Approach:
We embrace Circularity as a brand and strive to take environmental impact into account at all stages ranging from initial design, to the sourcing of materials, to manufacturing, to logistics to the final customer, to the end lifecycle of products post consumer use, and all steps in between. We give new life to what was once considered waste and are striving to use more post-consumer recycled PET (RPET) on products where possible in addition to continuing to upcycle brass and scrap metal into jewelry.

Our intention is to keep our products in use as long as possible, which is why we focus on providing leather cleaning kits and products that better care for our goods in addition to educating our customers on how to maintain our products. We resell flawed and damaged products we receive back from customers or from our suppliers at a discounted rate to ensure that everything we produce gets utilized. And, we are in the process of determining a Resale platform and Repair strategy that will accelerate and scale our ability to better care and extend the life cycle of used and worn out products.

At the end of the product life, we encourage customers to recycle and dispose of their products responsibly through our takeback program with Soles4Souls (S4S). Since launching this program, we have collected and diverted over 7,000 pairs of used shoes from landfills. Soles4Souls’ programs are distinct from typical distribution schemes that wind up polluting the Global South, and 0% of donated products go straight to landfills or incinerators.

Learn more about our takeback program here.

Everything we make impacts the planet. One-off green initiatives and product lines will not solve fashion’s challenges. Circularity and a holistic approach to environmental responsibility is the only way forward. To learn more, see Behind The Scenes of Our Operations, Why Nisolo Is A Top Rated Certified B Corporation, How Our 0% Net Carbon Commitment Combats Climate Change, and our Sustainability Facts Label Methodology.

Transparency

Transparency

3. Transparency

“Sustainability” to us means pursuing unprecedented transparency within an industry known for concealing its negative impact on people and the planet. From publicly sharing the 200 product-specific data points across People and Planet that back up our Sustainability Facts Label to publicly sharing our Lowest Wages, Carbon Footprint, and beyond, we aim to empower consumers with the information they need to shift the industry in a more sustainable direction.

Sustainability Facts Label

From megabytes to miles per gallon, we know a lot about the products we buy, but almost nothing about the hundreds of hands they touch or thousands of miles they travel before they get to us. To empower consumers to make better choices and hold ourselves more accountable in hopes the industry will begin to do the same, we built the most comprehensive yet digestible evaluation tool the fashion industry has seen to date, the Sustainability Facts Label. All Nisolo footwear and accessories ship with this product-specific label, evaluating sustainability impact scored by 10 categories across People and Planet. Backed by 200 different public-facing data points, each product and label include a QR code that link directly to the full evaluation. Through open sourcing our label and methodology, we envision the adoption of this level of transparency across the industry.

To learn more about this transparency initiative, visit our Sustainability Facts Label landing page and methodology.

Public-Facing Lowest Wages & Living Wages

No wage is more telling than the lowest wage, and if a brand can demonstrate that its lowest wage is a living wage, then they can demonstrate that all of its workers are receiving what they need to cover their basic needs. For the past several years now, we’ve publicly shared our lowest wages from across our supply chain and compared them to location specific living wages in an effort to inspire a living wage movement across the fashion industry, where it's estimated that less than 5% of workers currently receive a living wage that covers their most basic needs.

To learn more about our wages, and the Lowest Wage Challenge we launched to the industry, visit this page.

Public-Facing Carbon Footprint

Whereas most brands would never disclose their carbon emissions, we publicly share our total estimated carbon footprint annually as a Climate Neutral Certified brand. And, we share the estimated carbon emissions of all Nisolo footwear and accessories accessible via their respective product landing pages.

To learn about the methodology behind each of these, visit our Climate Neutral and Sustainability Facts Label Methodology pages.

To learn more about our pursuit of unprecedented transparency, please reference Behind The Scenes of Our Operations, where we dive deeper into our business and supply chain or our Sustainability Facts Label landing page and methodology, which outline how we’re evaluating and publicly sharing our social and environmental impact in innovative ways that push the envelope for the industry.

4. Accountability

With greenwashing, misinformation, and false advertising on the rise, one way to get a sense for which brands are striving to do right by People and the Planet is to look for public-facing self assessment, 3rd party verification, and 3rd party certifications. As part of our push to create greater accountability within the fashion industry, we seek 3rd party certification across as much of our supply chain as is readily available, and when 3rd party certifications are not a viable option for us, we self assess and publicly publish our findings where reasonably possible.

Public-Facing Self Assessment

We can only improve what we measure, and oftentimes, 3rd party certifications are too expensive or inefficient to assess what really matters when it comes to rapidly advancing social and environmental responsibility. This is why the first step in driving greater accountability is self assessing and publicly sharing social and environmental impact.

Since 2014, we’ve measured our social impact across our supply chain in order to create an environment where our producers and their dependents thrive. We track and publicly share lowest wages and living wages with all of our suppliers, publicly measure, strive to reduce, and ensure we offset 100% of carbon emissions, and we publicly disclose 200 social and environmental data points across all of our products through the Sustainability Facts Label. We do this because we believe our stakeholders have the right to know the impacts of our products and practices.

To demonstrate the power of public-facing self assessment, publishing our lowest wages and comparing them to our commitment of pursuing living wages has led us to increasing our lowest wages to ensure they meet ever-evolving ‘living wages’ in two different countries in the last 18 months alone.

Nisolo As Re/Make’s #1 Rated Brand for Transparency

Remake is an independent nonprofit with over 1,000 ambassadors around the globe on a mission to change the industry’s harmful practices on people and the planet. They make sustainability accessible and inclusive across three pillars of their work: education, advocacy, and transparency. Remake’s latest Accountability Report ranks Nisolo as the #1 performing brand of 60 total brands surveyed across the following impact areas: Traceability, Wages and Wellbeing, Commercial Practices, Raw Materials, Environmental Justice & Climate Change, and Governance, Diversity, & Inclusion.

Nisolo scored an 83/150 on their assessment. The closest brand to this score was Eileen Fisher with a 56, and other noteworthy brands included Reformation (47), Patagonia (27), Levi’s (20), Allbirds (15), J. Crew (6), GAP (6), Forever 21 (-13) and many more.

View the report to learn more.

Top Ranking Certified B Corporation

B Corp Certification is one of, if not the most rigorous and holistic 3rd party verification for brands in existence today. Certified B Corporations meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. Focusing on using business as a force for good, B Corps embrace a new way of doing business that envisions a more inclusive, equitable, and regenerative planet and economy.

The median score for the B Impact Assessment among 50,000+ past applicants is a 50.9, an 80 is a passing score, and the average for Certified B Corporations is a 93.8. Nisolo most recently scored a 115.4. While the vast majority of fashion brands would never be able to become B Corp Certified because of their poor social and environmental practices, there are around 120 fashion brands who have achieved this feat. The 115.4 Nisolo received for our social, environmental, and governance practices ranks higher than 93% of fashion brands that have become Certified B Corps, placing us at #1 among leather good brands and #3 among all footwear brands at the time of this post.

As a Certified B Corporation, our executive team is required to evaluate each decisions’ impact on people and the planet. To ensure accountability, we’ve written this into Nisolo’s legal operating agreement and by-laws, which our executive team is required to comply with in order to remain in good and compensated standing with the company.

To read more about our 3rd Party B Corporation Certification, visit here.

Climate Neutral Certification

Climate Neutral ensures that we are accurately measuring and offsetting our carbon footprint by requiring us to measure our emissions on their software tool, the Brand Emissions Estimator (BEE), a comprehensive platform built in partnership with climate experts from well respected organizations—Massachusetts Institute of Technology and CIRAIG, among others—operating in the carbon emissions accounting and lifecycle analysis fields. 100% of our carbon offsets are made through a REDD+ conservation project in the Peruvian Amazon that is certified by the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS).

To read more about our 3rd Party Climate Neutral Certification, visit here.

Leather Working Group Certification

As a brand, we are a Leather Working Group (LWG) member, and 95% of our leather uppers are derived from tanneries that are Leather Working Group Certified. When it comes to leather tanning, we rely on 3rd party certification from LWG to ensure our suppliers are responsibly processing the hides we use for our products. LWG assesses material traceability, environmental management system, restricted substances, energy consumption, water usage, air and noise emissions, waste management, effluent treatment, health, safety, and emergency preparedness, chemical management, and operations management, among other topics.

To read more about Leather Working Group Certification, visit here.

Real Leaders Top 100 Impact Company

Real Leaders is an independent business community of impact leaders with a vision for a future where every generation leaves the world better than they found it. In both 2020 and 2021, they recognized Nisolo as a top 100 Impact Company in their annual ranking of positive impact companies around the world using the following formula to evaluate recipients:

A Company’s Force for Good Score = 3 Year Growth Rate (Acceleration) x Revenue (Mass) x B Impact Assessment Score

Public-facing self assessment and 3rd party verification are essential for curbing greenwashing and holding brands accountable. We aim to strengthen our 3rd party verification and public self-assessment, so if you know of certificates we should pursue, we’re always on the lookout. Please share with sustainability@nisolo.com.

3. Transparency

“Sustainability” to us means pursuing unprecedented transparency within an industry known for concealing its negative impact on people and the planet. From publicly sharing the 200 product-specific data points across People and Planet that back up our Sustainability Facts Label to publicly sharing our Lowest Wages, Carbon Footprint, and beyond, we aim to empower consumers with the information they need to shift the industry in a more sustainable direction.

Sustainability Facts Label

From megabytes to miles per gallon, we know a lot about the products we buy, but almost nothing about the hundreds of hands they touch or thousands of miles they travel before they get to us. To empower consumers to make better choices and hold ourselves more accountable in hopes the industry will begin to do the same, we built the most comprehensive yet digestible evaluation tool the fashion industry has seen to date, the Sustainability Facts Label. All Nisolo footwear and accessories ship with this product-specific label, evaluating sustainability impact scored by 10 categories across People and Planet. Backed by 200 different public-facing data points, each product and label includes a QR code that links directly to the full evaluation. Through open sourcing our label and methodology, we envision the adoption of this level of transparency across the industry.

To learn more about this transparency initiative, visit our Sustainability Facts Label landing page and methodology.

Public-Facing Lowest Wages & Living Wages

No wage is more telling than the lowest wage, and if a brand can demonstrate that its lowest wage is a living wage, then they can demonstrate that all of its workers are receiving what they need to cover their basic needs. For the past several years now, we’ve publicly shared our lowest wages from across our supply chain and compared them to location specific living wages in an effort to inspire a living wage movement across the fashion industry, where it's estimated that less than 5% of workers currently receive a living wage that covers their most basic needs.

To learn more about our wages, and the Lowest Wage Challenge we launched to the industry, visit this page.

Public-Facing Carbon Footprint

Whereas most brands would never disclose their carbon emissions, we publicly share our total estimated carbon footprint annually as a Climate Neutral Certified brand. And, we share the estimated carbon emissions of all Nisolo footwear and accessories accessible via their respective product landing pages.

To learn about the methodology behind each of these, visit our Climate Neutral and Sustainability Facts Label Methodology pages.

To learn more about our pursuit of unprecedented transparency, please reference Behind The Scenes of Our Operations, where we dive deeper into our business and supply chain or our Sustainability Facts Label landing page and methodology, which outline how we’re evaluating and publicly sharing our social and environmental impact in innovative ways that push the envelope for the industry.

4. Accountability

With greenwashing, misinformation, and false advertising on the rise, one way to get a sense for which brands are striving to do right by People and the Planet is to look for public-facing self assessment, 3rd party verification, and 3rd party certifications. As part of our push to create greater accountability within the fashion industry, we seek 3rd party certification across as much of our supply chain as is readily available, and when 3rd party certifications are not a viable option for us, we self assess and publicly publish our findings where reasonably possible.

Public-Facing Self Assessment

We can only improve what we measure and oftentimes, 3rd party certifications are too expensive or inefficient to assess what really matters when it comes to rapidly advancing social and environmental responsibility. This is why the first step in driving greater accountability is self assessing and publicly sharing social and environmental impact.

Since 2014, we’ve measured our social impact across our supply chain in order to create an environment where our producers and their dependents thrive. We track and publicly share lowest wages and living wages with all of our suppliers, publicly measure, strive to reduce, and ensure we offset 100% of carbon emissions, and we publicly disclose 200 social and environmental data points across all of our products through the Sustainability Facts Label. We do this because we believe our stakeholders have the right to know the impacts of our products and practices.

To demonstrate the power of public-facing self assessment, publishing our lowest wages and comparing them to our commitment of pursuing living wages has led us to increasing our lowest wages to ensure they meet ever-evolving ‘living wages’ in two different countries in the last 18 months alone.

Nisolo As Re/Make’s #1 Rated Brand for Transparency

Remake is an independent nonprofit with over 1,000 ambassadors around the globe on a mission to change the industry’s harmful practices on people and the planet. They make sustainability accessible and inclusive across three pillars of their work: education, advocacy, and transparency. Remake’s latest Accountability Report ranks Nisolo as the #1 performing brand of 60 total brands surveyed across the following impact areas: Traceability, Wages and Wellbeing, Commercial Practices, Raw Materials, Environmental Justice & Climate Change, and Governance, Diversity, & Inclusion.

Nisolo scored an 83/150 on their assessment. The closest brand to this score was Eileen Fisher with a 56, and other noteworthy brands included Reformation (47), Patagonia (27), Levi’s (20), Allbirds (15), J. Crew (6), GAP (6), Forever 21 (-13) and many more.

View the report to learn more.

Top Ranking Certified B Corporation

B Corp Certification is one of, if not the most rigorous and holistic 3rd party verification for brands in existence today. Certified B Corporations meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability. Focusing on using business as a force for good, B Corps embrace a new way of doing business that envisions a more inclusive, equitable, and regenerative planet and economy.

The median score for the B Impact Assessment among 50,000+ past applicants is a 50.9, an 80 is a passing score, and the average for Certified B Corporations is a 93.8. Nisolo most recently scored a 115.4. While the vast majority of fashion brands would never be able to become B Corp Certified because of their poor social and environmental practices, there are around 120 fashion brands who have achieved this feat. The 115.4 Nisolo received for our social, environmental, and governance practices ranks higher than 93% of fashion brands that have become Certified B Corps, placing us at #1 among leather good brands and #3 among all footwear brands at the time of this post.

As a Certified B Corporation, our executive team is required to evaluate each decisions’ impact on people and the planet. To ensure accountability, we’ve written this into Nisolo’s legal operating agreement and by-laws, which our executive team is required to comply with in order to remain in good and compensated standing with the company.

To read more about our 3rd Party B Corporation Certification, visit here.

Climate Neutral Certification

Climate Neutral ensures that we are accurately measuring and offsetting our carbon footprint by requiring us to measure our emissions on their software tool, the Brand Emissions Estimator (BEE), a comprehensive platform built in partnership with climate experts from well respected organizations—Massachusetts Institute of Technology and CIRAIG, among others—operating in the carbon emissions accounting and lifecycle analysis fields. 100% of our carbon offsets are made through a REDD+ conservation project in the Peruvian Amazon that is certified by the Verified Carbon Standard (VCS).

To read more about our 3rd Party Climate Neutral Certification, visit here.

Leather Working Group Certification

As a brand, we are a Leather Working Group (LWG) member, and 95% of our leather uppers are derived from tanneries that are Leather Working Group Certified. When it comes to leather tanning, we rely on 3rd party certification from LWG to ensure our suppliers are responsibly processing the hides we use for our products. LWG assesses material traceability, environmental management system, restricted substances, energy consumption, water usage, air and noise emissions, waste management, effluent treatment, health, safety, and emergency preparedness, chemical management, and operations management among other topics.

To read more about Leather Working Group Certification, visit here.

Real Leaders Top 100 Impact Company

Real Leaders is an independent business community of impact leaders with a vision for a future where every generation leaves the world better than they found it. In both 2020 and 2021, they recognized Nisolo as a top 100 Impact Company in their annual ranking of positive impact companies around the world using the following formula to evaluate recipients:

A Company’s Force for Good Score = 3 Year Growth Rate (Acceleration) x Revenue (Mass) x B Impact Assessment Score

Public-facing self assessment and
3rd party verification are essential
for curbing greenwashing and holding brands accountable. We aim to strengthen our 3rd party verification and public self-assessment, so if you know of certifications we should pursue, we’re always on the lookout. Please
share with
sustainability@nisolo.com.

Collaboration

Collaboration

5. Collaboration

When pursued in a silo, “Sustainability” is hopeless. Nisolo loosely translates to “not alone” in Spanish. We named our brand this as a tribute to our interdependence on one another and the natural environment, and in recognition that we could never accomplish our vision for the fashion industry on our own.

This is why we actively partake in collaboration and greater ecosystem building beyond our day to day focus as a brand in each of the following areas: Activism & Legislation, Sustainability Advising, Supporting Sustainable Brands & Changemakers, and Open-Sourcing Intellectual Property & Methodology.

Activism & Legislation

Legislation and activism play a critical role in solving the challenges the fashion industry faces today. While this is an area we want to grow more in, we’ve participated as ‘activists’ well beyond what a typical fashion brand would on several occasions.

We created our Sustainability Facts Label in a manner that was specifically built to be replicated by other brands within our industry (and beyond), and we remain in conversations with other brands seeking to adopt the principles of our label for their own supply chains. We also founded The Lowest Wage Challenge in collaboration with ABLE, a close competitor, to challenge brands to share their lowest wages and strive toward paying their workers a living wage throughout their supply chains. Our Sustainability Lead is an ambassador for Remake, a community of fashion lovers, womens’ rights advocates, and environmentalists on a mission to change the industry’s harmful practices on people and our planet.

We strive to champion legislation that protects garment workers and the planet and were one of a handful of brands that advocated for the passage of California State Bill 62, which put an end to harmful piece rate wages in order to ensure that every worker receives minimum wage.

Sustainability Advising

Since inception 10+ years ago, we’ve provided countless resources to students and academics and have consistently provided uncompensated consulting to individuals, organizations, and companies interested in learning more about how to become more socially and environmentally responsible.

Additionally, we are members of Climate Neutral’s Brand Advisory Group with representatives from Allbirds, REI, Reformation, Cotopaxi, Mate the Label, Avocado Mattress, Peak Designs, Blueland, and Klean Kanteen. The purpose of this group is to support Climate Neutral to engage with key brand stakeholders to better understand their operations and climate strategies so that they can build a certification experience that empowers companies to decarbonize more rapidly. We are also members of Soles4Souls’ Sustainability Council, with the primary purpose and focus of scaling socially and environmentally responsible product reclamation efforts across the footwear industry.

Supporting Sustainable Brands & Changemakers

Supporting like-minded brands and changemakers is a critical part of building a healthy and thriving ecosystem. This is why we support sustainably-minded brands in our industry through initiatives like brand collaborations, giveaways, etc. as well as through our Ethical Marketplace, which we built specifically to promote other brands who were handpicked for their exceptional products and willingness to sign on to our Code of Conduct. Additionally, we champion the work of changemakers in our industry through actively participating in forums, speaking events, and podcasts such as The Root Podcast, Conscious Style, Conscious Chatter, The Sustainable Fashion Forum, etc.

Open-Sourcing Intellectual Property & Methodology

If we’re not willing to share what we’re learning as an industry, then we all have to unnecessarily reinvent the wheel and learn things the hard way. Whether it’s through being transparent on stage or through sharing specific methodology we’ve built out like this and this, we strive to maintain a spirit of open-sourcing relevant intellectual property whenever possible.

Collaboration among everyday consumers, brands, legislators, manufacturers, academics, and beyond is the only way the fashion industry can change for the better. Regardless of who we are as stakeholders, thankfully, we can all play a part in building a better fashion industry.

5. Collaboration

When pursued in a silo, “Sustainability” is hopeless. Nisolo loosely translates to “not alone” in Spanish. We named our brand this as a tribute to our interdependence on one another and the natural environment and in recognition that we could never accomplish our vision for the fashion industry on our own.

This is why we actively partake in collaboration and greater ecosystem building beyond our day to day focus as a brand in each of the following areas: Activism & Legislation, Sustainability Advising, Supporting Sustainable Brands & Changemakers, and Open-Sourcing Intellectual Property & Methodology.

Activism & Legislation

Legislation and activism play a critical role in solving the challenges the fashion industry faces today. While this is an area we want to grow more in, we’ve participated as ‘activists’ well beyond what a typical fashion brand would on several occasions.

We created our Sustainability Facts Label in a manner that was specifically built to be replicated by other brands within our industry (and beyond), and we remain in conversations with other brands seeking to adopt the principles of our label for their own supply chains. We also founded The Lowest Wage Challenge in collaboration with ABLE, a close competitor, to challenge brands to share their lowest wages and strive toward paying their workers a living wage throughout their supply chains. Our Sustainability Lead is an ambassador for Remake, a community of fashion lovers, womens’ rights advocates, and environmentalists on a mission to change the industry’s harmful practices on people and our planet.

We strive to champion legislation that protects garment workers and the planet and were one of a handful of brands that advocated for the passage of California State Bill 62, which put an end to harmful piece rate wages in order to ensure that every worker receives minimum wage.

Sustainability Advising

Since inception 10+ years ago, we’ve provided countless resources to students and academics and have consistently provided uncompensated consulting to individuals, organizations, and companies interested in learning more about how to become more socially and environmentally responsible.

Additionally, we are members of Climate Neutral’s Brand Advisory Group with representatives from Allbirds, REI, Reformation, Cotopaxi, Mate the Label, Avocado Mattress, Peak Designs, Blueland, and Klean Kanteen. The purpose of this group is to support Climate Neutral to engage with key brand stakeholders to better understand their operations and climate strategies so that they can build a certification experience that empowers companies to decarbonize more rapidly We are also members of Soles4Souls’ Sustainability Council, with the primary purpose and focus of scaling socially and environmentally responsible product reclamation efforts across the footwear industry.

Supporting Sustainable Brands & Changemakers

Supporting like-minded brands and changemakers is a critical part of building a healthy and thriving ecosystem. This is why we support sustainably-minded brands in our industry through initiatives like brand collaborations, giveaways, etc. as well as through our Ethical Marketplace, which we built specifically to promote other brands who were handpicked for their exceptional products and willingness to sign on to our Code of Conduct. Additionally, we champion the work of changemakers in our industry through actively participating in forums, speaking events, and podcasts such as The Root Podcast, Conscious Style, Conscious Chatter, The Sustainable Fashion Forum, etc.

Open-Sourcing Intellectual Property & Methodology

If we’re not willing to share what we’re learning as an industry, then we all have to unnecessarily reinvent the wheel and learn things the hard way. Whether it’s through being transparent on stage or through sharing specific methodology we’ve built out like this and this, we strive to maintain a spirit of open-sourcing relevant intellectual property whenever possible.

 

Collaboration among everyday consumers, brands, legislators, manufacturers, academics, and beyond is the only way the fashion industry can change for the better. Regardless of who we are as stakeholders, thankfully, we can all play a part in building a better fashion industry.

How You Can Support

From the prevalence of Greenwashing to the impact on People and the Planet, the challenges facing the multi-trillion dollar fashion industry are some of the most pressing ones of our time. Buying and producing less is one of the best ways to flip the script on this reality. However, the timeline and likelihood of establishing a global movement for less consumption is high-risk and does very little for the 100 million people today whose jobs depend on fashion.

We also need to shift demand toward brands focused on a holistic approach to sustainability. With all of this in mind, here are a few things we encourage most to help transform fashion’s current outlook:

  1. Let’s take care of what we already own and buy pre-loved options when available.
  2. When we have to buy something new, let’s strive to support brands who embrace a holistic approach to sustainability.
  3. Let’s remain curious, and if they’re not there yet, let’s push our favorite brands toward embracing the minimum standard for sustainability we’ve outlined here.
  4. Sustainability is ever-evolving, and we want to hear from you on what you love and where we can of course improve. Please share your feedback with us via sustainability@nisolo.com.

Lastly, we wouldn’t have been able to build this if it weren’t for the growing body of research highlighting challenges and potential solutions facing our industry. We’re incredibly grateful for the people who influenced this framework through their work in the following resources, and we encourage everyone to explore them to learn more:

*Resources

  1. “2017 Pulse Of The Fashion Industry,” Global Fashion Agenda and Boston Consulting Group, https://www.globalfashionagenda.com/publications-and-policy/pulse-of-the-industry/, 2017.
  2. “2019 Ethical Fashion Report,” Peppermint Magazine, https://peppermintmag.com/2019-ethical-fashion-report/, 2019.
  3. “2020 Fashion Transparency Index,” Fashion Revolution, https://issuu.com/fashionrevolution/docs/fr_fashiontransparencyindex2020?fr=sNmI5NzYxMDk0OA, 2020.
  4. “2021 Remake Fashion Accountability Report,” Remake, https://remake.world/2021-remake-fashion-accountability-report/, 2021.  
  5. “A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning Fashion’s Future,” Ellen MacArthur Foundation, https://ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/a-new-textiles-economy, 2017.
  6. “Advancing Sustainable Materials Management: 2014 Fact Sheet,” Environmental Protection Agency, https://www.epa.gov/sites/default/files/2016-11/documents/2014_smmfactsheet_508.pdf, 2016.
  7. Aja Barber, Consumed, 2021.
  8. “AR6 Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis,” Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg1/, 2021.
  9. “Are The People Who Made Your Clothes Paid Enough To Live On?” Fashion Checker by Clean Clothes Campaign, https://fashionchecker.org/, 2020.
  10. “Child Labour In The Fashion Industry,” Common Objective, https://www.commonobjective.co/article/child-labour-in-the-fashion-industry, 2018.
  11. “Confronting Plastic Pollution One Bag At A Time,” The EPA Blog, https://blog.epa.gov/2016/11/01/confronting-plastic-pollution-one-bag-at-a-time/, 2016.
  12. Council for Textile Recycling, https://www.weardonaterecycle.org/, 2021.
  13. “Covid-19 and Garment Workers,” Worker Rights Consortium, https://www.workersrights.org/issues/covid-19/, 2020.
  14. “Environmental Impact Of Textile Reuse And Recycling,” Journal of Cleaner Production, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0959652618305985#bib39, 2018.
  15. “Fast Fashion Is On The Rampage, With The UK At The Head Of The Charge,” The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2019/jun/21/fast-fashion-is-on-the-rampage-with-uk-at-the-head-of-the-charge, 2019.
  16. “Gender-based Violence And Harassment At Work,” Solidarity Center, https://www.solidaritycenter.org/category/what-we-do/equality-inclusion/gender/, 2019.
  17. “Global Estimate of Child Labour: Results And Trends, 2012-2016,” ILO, https://www.ilo.org/global/publications/books/WCMS_575499/lang--en/index.html, 2017.
  18. “Global Fashion Industry Statistics,” Fashion United, www.fashionunited.com/global-fashionindustry-statisticsinternational-apparel, 2017.
  19. “Making Climate Change Fashionable–The Garment Industry Takes On Global Warming,” Forbes, https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2015/12/03/making-climate-change-fashionable-the-garment-industry-takes-on-global-warming/?sh=1880f8679e41, 2015.
  20. Maxine Bédat, Unraveled, 2021.
  21. “Modern Slavery: A Hidden, Every Day Problem,” Walk Free Global Slavery Index, https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/2018/findings/highlights/, 2018.
  22. “Money Fashion Power,” Fashion Revolution, https://www.fashionrevolution.org/resources/fanzine/, 2017.
  23. “Municipal Solid Waste In The United States 2009 Facts And Figures,” Environmental Protection Agency, https://archive.epa.gov/epawaste/nonhaz/municipal/web/pdf/msw2009-fs.pdf, 2009.
  24. “The Afterlife of American Clothes,” NPR, https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2013/12/10/247362140/the-afterlife-of-american-clothes, 2013.
  25. “The State of Fashion 2020,” Mckinsey & Company, https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/mckinsey/industries/retail/our%20insights/the%20state%20of%20fashion%202020%20navigating%20uncertainty/the-state-of-fashion-2020-final.pdf, 2020.
  26. “Poverty Wages,” Clean Clothes Campaign, https://cleanclothes.org/poverty-wages, 2013.
  27. “Rent The Runway Wants To Lend You Your Look,” The New Yorker, https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/10/22/rent-the-runway-wants-to-lend-you-your-look, 2018.
  28. “Sexual Harassment, Exploitation And Abuse Transparency Report,” CARE International, https://www.care-international.org/news/press-releases/care-international-sexual-harassment-exploitation-and-abuse-transparency-report-2019, 2019.
  29. “The 2019 Ethical Fashion Report: The Truth Behind The Barcode,” Ethical Fashion Guide, https://media.business-humanrights.org/media/documents/files/documents/FashionReport_2019_9-April-19-FINAL.pdf, 2019.
  30. The OR Foundation, https://theor.org/, 2021.
  31. The True Cost Film, Andrew Morgan, 2015.
  32. US Department of Agriculture AMS Daily Drop Credit Report, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rp7vls0LeXg&t=2855s, 3/23/2020.
  33. “Waste And Pollution,” Clean Clothes Campaign, https://cleanclothes.org/fashions-problems/waste-and-pollution, 2019.
  34. “World of Work Report 2014,” ILO, https://www.ilo.org/global/research/global-reports/world-of-work/2014/lang--en/index.htm, 2014.
  35. “Why We Still Need A Fashion Revolution,” Fashion Revolution, https://issuu.com/fashionrevolution/docs/fr_whitepaper_2020_digital_singlepages, 2020.

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Follow Along

Style inspiration, impact announcements, sneak peaks, and more. Stay up to date and in the loop on all things Nisolo by following along @nisoloshoes and @nisolomens.

Follow Along

Style inspo, impact announcements, sneak peaks, and more. Stay up to date and in the loop on all things Nisolo by following along @nisoloshoes and @nisolomens.

Nisolo UGC 1
Nisolo UGC 2
Nisolo UGC 3
Nisolo UGC 4
Nisolo UGC 5
Nisolo UGC 6
Nisolo UGC 7
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Thank You

Nisolo means “not alone.” Collaboration is one of our 5 pillars because we’re focused on doing all this, together. If you made it this far down, thank you for your engagement. Whoever you may be, you’re a critical part of changing fashion, and we appreciate you more than you’ll ever know.

Now, let’s go build a better world, together.

Thank You

Nisolo means “not alone.” Collaboration is one of the 5 pillars of our framework because we’re focused on doing this work, together. If you made it this far down the page, we THANK YOU for your engagement. Whoever you may be, you’re a critical part of changing fashion, and we appreciate your awareness of this reality more than you’ll ever know.

Now, let’s go build a better world, together.

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