The Abercrombie & Fitch store prototype in Columbus, Ohio.


In collaboration with the Rainforest Action Network, Abercrombie & Fitch Co. has unveiled a new policy for the sourcing and use of wood-based fabrics, including rayon, viscose and Modal in its clothes.

Going forward, Abercrombie & Fitch has committed to tracing the sources of all wood-based fabrics used in its own clothing lines and to eliminate by the middle of next year any sources that are affiliated with the destruction of endangered forests and associated with the violations of human rights. The policy applies to its namesake brand, as well as its abercrombie kids and Hollister labels.

By making this pledge, A&F joins a roster of apparel companies trying to address deforestation and human rights abuses in their respective supply chains. The company, along with Ralph Lauren and Victoria’s Secret (L Brands) are among the few major U.S.-based companies publicly acknowledging these issues.

A&F’s policy and initiative is in line with the Rainforest Action Network. The group’s “Out of Fashion” campaign has been calling attention to the risks that controversial wood-based fabrics pose to endangered forests and human rights in Indonesia and elsewhere.

RAN’s senior forest campaigner Brihannala Morgan noted that communities in North Sumatra have been campaigning for this issue for more than 30 years, “demanding that global brands acknowledge and remedy their local impacts to people and forests.” She was instrumental in working with Abercrombie & Fitch Co. on establishing its policy. To date, more than 100 brands including H&M, Zara, Stella McCartney, Asos and Levi Strauss & Co. have developed policies in line with the RAN, according to Morgan.

A&F’s policy is meant to send a strong message to producers in Indonesia, Canada, South Africa and Brazil where the production of pulp for fabrics has taken its toll on natural forests, as well as on the local impoverished communities that depend on the forests. In Northern Sumatra, Indonesia, for example, more than 20 cases of land conflict have been documented with traditionally owned land having been cleared and converted to plantations without the community’s consent to make pulp for fabric and paper production.

Abercrombie & Fitch’s senior director of sustainability Kim Harr said, “At A&F, we have a history of demonstrating our commitment to environmental responsibility through our actions and this new policy is a further step on our ongoing sustainability journey. We know there is a need for better supply chain traceability and, with RAN’s support, we can now make an even greater positive impact.”

The company has had all sorts of news in recent months. Earlier this year the company’s board decided to take it off the market. For the second-quarter results released at the end of last month, the retailer saw a slightly wide loss, adjusted earnings per share and revenues bested Wall Street’s consensus estimates. In addition, Scott Lipesky is returning to the company next month as senior vice president and chief financial officer.

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