During the past few decades, the emergence of new key players has profoundly changed the fashion industry. The increasing number of collections each year, with products sold at ever more affordable prices, has led to a doubling of the worldwide consumption of clothing items in 20 years. This pressure on costs and production rates has resulted in the large-scale relocation of textile manufacturing to developing countries. With the fragmentation of supply chains, many problems – some of them unacceptable – have multiplied, affecting both working conditions and environmental practices.
At Lacoste, we have maintained a rhythm of renewing our collections twice a year, with the majority of our range consisting of permanent products, including our iconic polo shirt. We have developed and modernized our industrial site in Troyes, France, with the aim of preserving and developing our historical territorial foundation.
However, structural changes in the industry have also forced us to adapt our model. Like most other key players, Lacoste has expanded its material sourcing and industrial network around the world. Today we rely on a network of hundreds of suppliers committed to our ethical values and quality requirements.
Nevertheless, the fragmentation of our production ecosystem has also exposed us to the risks of more complex traceability and less direct control over social and environmental practices.
At Lacoste, we consider it our duty to provide our customers, the public authorities and our partners with full transparency of our supply chain. It is our responsibility to guarantee that our products are made with full respect for the men and women who make them and the fragile balance of the planet. It is also our responsibility to bring our suppliers onboard with this ambition so that they become true partners in this success.
In order to fully meet such requirements, we have placed supply chain issues at the heart of our Durable Elegance approach.
The textile supply chain and related challenges
- The five tiers of the supply chain
The lacoste supply chain
- Preserving our historical foundation in france
- An organization that has expanded around the globe
Social and environmental excellence as a driving force for shared growth
- Ensuring full traceability of our supply chain+
- Evaluating our partners’ social & environmental performances
- Joining forces with those who adopt best practices
THE TEXTILE SUPPLY CHAIN AND RELATED CHALLENGES
This demonstrates the complexity and depth of the textile industry’s supply chain. It relies on a large number and wide range of providers around the world. They may be specialized in a single process or be involved in several stages of the value chain within the same industrial facility.
Today, most brands in the fashion industry have outsourced their supply chain, simply acting as the originators to Tier 1 suppliers. Tier 1 suppliers provide to Tier 2 suppliers and so on, through to the fields and factories where the fibers are produced.
On a global scale, this dispersed network raises the question of its traceability and the transparency in terms of the social and environmental practices that prevail throughout the originator’s supply chain.
Many violations have been stigmatized, bringing the industry under public scrutiny, such as forced labor, child labor, inadequate working and pay conditions, and risks related to the health and safety of workers. Other notable issues include harmful environmental practices stemming from local regulations and legislation that are not in line with international standards.
COUNTERFEITING, A SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEM
Lacoste prioritizes the fight against counterfeiting. In addition to the infringement of our intellectual property and the impact to our brand image, this illegal business disregards labor laws, safety standards and environmental norms. In almost 80 countries, Lacoste works in partnership with public authorities, is involved with associations (UNIFAB, INTA, REACT, ICC BASCAP) and participates in public awareness campaigns on the social, economic and health hazards of counterfeiting.
THE LACOSTE SUPPLY CHAIN
PRESERVING OUR HISTORICAL FOUNDATION IN FRANCE
Since the beginning, Lacoste has been located on the Gayettes site, near Troyes, the historical birthplace of hosiery in France. This new company was therefore able to utilize the skills of the local workforce, ensuring the level of quality required by our founder. Established and rooted in Troyes, the Lacoste company has since contributed to the dynamism of the local economy.
Today, the company is committed to preserving its 700 direct jobs and the many indirect jobs related to its operations by preserving the skills and expertise in its historical birthplace. However, Lacoste is not content with simply maintaining its heritage: the company is also investing in local infrastructure to prepare for the future.
The renovation of Troyes factory
Lacoste has launched an ambitious renovation project for the Gayettes factory. After the first phase of refurbishment and re-equipping of the knitting and garment workshops, work is now focusing on the transformation of the dyeing unit. This second stage represents an investment of around 4 million Euros to encourage innovation in Troyes and the development of new textile materials thanks to a wider range of facilities. As a result, the major investment in Les Gayettes will enable the local teams to increase their skills and develop their expertise. Refurbishing the factory to the highest environmental standards will also result in significant water and energy savings. Through this project, Lacoste is reaffirming its commitment to continue to invest in France under good environmental conditions, while preserving its historical territorial foundation and ensuring the preservation of its expertise.
Continuing its commitment to local growth, the Group has invested a further around 30 million Euros to build a new European logistics hub in the Troyes region: Court 2.3. The purpose of expanding of the current warehouse is to accommodate the development of commercial activities, e-commerce in particular, while improving the environmental impact of the supply chain. It will be operational from October 2021.
Finally, within the framework of the Union des Industries Textiles (Textile Industries Union) and the Club Textile Intégral (Integral Textile Club), Lacoste works in conjunction with local partners to maintain and enhance the value of its historic expertise in and around the region. Consequently, 42 volunteer employees in our factories received a nationally recognized diploma from a training program designed by the Manufacturing Academy. Among them, there are operators, multi-station operators, prototypists, and tutors, passing on their skills.
Today, Lacoste still has four production sites and a logistics center in France and remains a major employer in the Bourgogne Franche-Comté and Grand Est regions. This loyalty to its industrial history has enabled the brand to maintain production in France. The 1,000 tons of material manufactured on the Troyes sites produces 3.7 million textile products in the Euromed region.
AN ORGANIZATION THAT HAS EXPANDED AROUND THE GLOBE
In the 1950s, Lacoste began to export around the globe. Since the 80s, its products have been embraced by American preppies, French rappers and Japanese skaters. These new customers confirm that the brand has become universal and timeless, transcending cultures, oceans and generations.
In 2020, the Crocodile brand was sold in 98 countries, via a network of 1,100 directly operated stores and almost 15,000 partner outlets. Lacoste also extends its presence on the internet with more than 30 online stores.
As the Lacoste customer community has grown, the company has needed to expand its supply chain. In response to global demand, Lacoste is now organized into three regional platforms: Euromed, Americas and Asia.
In addition to its French sites, Lacoste has invested in two other production sites to spread its industrial expertise beyond its historical birthplace : one in Argentina, the other in Japan.
- Produces textile products (shirts, polo shirts, pants, underwear)
- 276 employees
- Produces textile products (polo shirts and other knitwear – t-shirts, sweatshirts, etc.)
- 76 employees
Lacoste also works with several hundred local partners around the world to ensure production is as close as possible to its customers. This localized production has become an essential part of the supply strategy.
Today, the vast majority of products sold by Lacoste are marketed in the same region where they were made :
- Americas : 70% of the clothes sold were made in the Americas region
- Europe : 60% of the clothes sold were made in the Euromed region
- Asia : 80% of the clothes sold were made in Asia.
Lacoste’s industrial network includes approximately 500 Tier 1 to 4 partners by the end of 2020. This project is designed to be an ecosystem between Lacoste and its suppliers. We are proud of the relationships we have developed with our partners. We believe that these relationships of trust, which have been built and maintained through years of cooperation, represent our primary strength in countering the risks and challenges that textile supply chains are often criticized for.
SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL EXCELLENCE AS A DRIVING FORCE FOR SHARED GROWTH
ENSURING FULL TRACEABILITY OF OUR SUPPLY CHAIN
At Lacoste, we consider it our responsibility to guarantee that our products are made with full respect for the women and men who make them and the fragile balance of our planet.
This responsibility is not limited to our Tier 1 direct suppliers, but extends to all stages of product development, including the fields where the cotton we use is grown. Knowing all the various players involved in the manufacturing of our products is therefore a fundamental step to our approach.
The complete identification of our industrial ecosystem
Tracking all supply chains by asking each supplier to identify their own suppliers remains a complex task, that requires the implementation of systems to check and verify the collected information. However, this is the objective that we have undertaken, by continually mobilizing the teams in each of our regional platforms.
For Lacoste, traceability goes hand in hand with transparency.
Today, we are proud to be among the first companies in the industry to make public all our Tier 1 to 4 suppliers.
Since March 2021, this list can be found on our corporate site. It will be updated at least once a year reflecting the changes of a constantly evolving ecosystem.
The traceability of industrial suppliers at Lacoste does not only apply to our textile activities. We have also published our complete supply chains for each factory involved in the manufacturing of our shoes, luggage, accessories and household linen.
Tracing all the way back to the cotton fields
At Lacoste, cotton represents 85% of the textile fibers used to make our clothes. Our traceability requirements could not be met without having a detailed identification of the origin of this raw material which is essential to our activity.
Cotton is one of the most cultivated products in the world. Around 250 million people worldwide work in the production of this natural fiber, most of them on small farms often located in developing countries. We are fully aware of the social conditions and environmental impacts that are frequently associated with this type of farming: forced labor, child labor, health risks, excessive use of chemicals and careless use of water resources, etc. These practices are obviously incompatible with the values we embrace. Also, the origin of the cotton we use, and the conditions of its cultivation, are priority issues for us.
At Lacoste we use around 12,000 tons of cotton each year. Tracing the origin of the cotton we use back to the field where it is produced is an enormous task. We are not yet able to ensure such precise traceability. To overcome this difficulty and to protect ourselves from the social and environmental risks associated with this type of cultivation, we have chosen to work with our suppliers by identifying the countries of origin of the cotton we use. We call this “nomination”.
Very early on, we banned cotton from countries where the cultivation of cotton is based on unacceptable practices (such as Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan) and excluded other origins which we considered to have provided insufficient social and environmental guarantees.
During the past two years, our cotton sourcing colleagues have traveled the globe to understand the reality of practices in our various sourcing areas. Since June 2020, following this large-scale field study, all fiber manufacturers working for Lacoste must source exclusively from four countries: the United States, Australia, Peru and Turkey.
We have selected these four countries that implement the best practices: cultivation rules are very strict, chemical inputs are regulated and monitored, mechanical collection is used to ensure good social conditions for harvesting the cotton flowers, and optimized water consumption
To verify the correct application of these measures, we are not satisfied with merely a letter of commitment from our fiber manufacturers. Lacoste has signed a partnership with Oritain to certify the geographical origin of the cotton we use. This laboratory has built up a comprehensive database of cotton fibers by country and uses a sophisticated analysis method with “land markers”. Therefore, by analyzing the chemical and organic traces present in the fibers of our finished products, we can guarantee that the cotton fiber comes from the four countries selected by Lacoste.
In these four countries, Lacoste is pursuing its ambition to move closer to the ultimate level of traceability: the cotton field. We are now involved at the level of the cotton producing cooperatives in the four selected countries of origin. We have already signed long-term partnerships with those who have met our strict specifications: to provide us with cotton combining a high-quality fiber with the highest social and environmental practices. Our short-term objective is to select all the cotton producer cooperatives where Lacoste will exclusively source.
Finally, regarding our organic cotton, we only use “GOTS” (Global Organic Textile Standard) certified fiber, a standard that we believe provides the highest guarantee of traceability to our customers. This organic cotton only comes from Peru or Turkey, countries that ban the cultivation of GMO cotton. We also perform regular DNA tests to certify the absence of any trace of GMO in all our products labeled “organic”.
Controlling the supply of animal fiber
Lacoste is equally concerned about the preservation of animal welfare. We have banned real fur, angora, mohair and all exotic leathers from all our products.
We support the most demanding certifications and standards, especially those of the Textile Exchange of which we are a member and that aims to accelerate the adoption of more responsible raw materials in the textile industry.
The RWS certification is already used in 40% of the wool products concerned. Our goal by 2023 is to have 100% of our wool RWS certified or recycled and GRS certified (Global Recycling Standard).
We favour the RDS standard (Responsible Down Standard) for down and feathers.
When recycled fibers are used, they are certified GRS (Global Recycling Standard).
Assessing the social and environmental performance of our partners
The traceability of all our Tier 1 to 4 suppliers is an essential step in managing our ecosystem according to social and environmental performance criteria. Currently Lacoste is involved in an extensive process aiming – in the very short term – to have an objective evaluation system for every single player involved in the global supply chain.
Committing to good practices
All of our suppliers are committed to the Lacoste Partners’ Charter of Ethics, which includes its activities within the framework of the ten major principles of the United Nations Global Compact and those of the major international laws:
- The Universal Declaration of Human Rights from 1948 and the two additional international covenants on civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights;
- The eight fundamental conventions of the International Labour Organization (ILO);
- The OECD Guidelines;
- The United Nations Convention against Corruption;
- The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development.
The charter defines the rules to be applied in all circumstances, to ensure that:
Employees are treated with respect and dignity in a work environment that protects their health and safety;
Production is carried out in the most environmentally friendly way possible and by preserving animal welfare for the raw materials derived from breeding;
The business relationships maintained by the partner are free from any manipulation, corruption, influence peddling, extortion or misappropriation of funds and more generally, illegal practices.
As originator, our responsibility cannot be limited to setting rules of conduct. We are also accountable for their effective application throughout our supply ecosystem.
Systematization of social and environmental audits
In addition to the technical audits carried out periodically by Lacoste teams on our partners’ sites, we have been conducting independent social and environmental audits for several years to assess the compliance of the practices with the most rigorous standards.
Since 2018, the Group has been using the ICS (Initiative for Compliance and Sustainability) audit standard, recognized as one of the most robust for assessing the social and environmental practices of production sites. The ICS is a multi-sector initiative which allows member companies to collaborate and pool audits. All of its members use the same standards and methodology to monitor working conditions, safety and environmental practices in the factories they source from.
These audits are carried out by independent companies, in a semi-announced or unannounced manner. They are renewed every two years and identify and prioritize areas of non-compliance as well as highlighting good practices. Therefore, the ICS audit allows not only an objective evaluation of the current practices, but also to define a corrective action plan to be implemented by the managers of the audited sites. Where necessary, intermediate follow-up audits are implemented to verify the correct implementation of the planned corrective actions.
As an objective evaluation tool, audits are an indispensable method for identifying and prioritizing suppliers committed to the best social and environmental practices and, conversely, they can also be used to disqualify those who do not meet the requirements set by our company in this area.
All Tier 1 to 4 factories are audited for social compliance. Likewise, 100% of the factories using wet processes in their manufacturing process (fabric finishing: dyeing, printing, treatments, etc.) are subject to an environmental evaluation. It is in these factories that most of the environmental risks of the textile production chain are located: excessive use of water, use and management of chemicals, energy intensity, pollution of local ecosystems by wastewater, etc.
Tracking the environmental performance of our partners
For Lacoste, compliance with good social or environmental practices must be combined with effective performance measurement.
Compliance audits have been supplemented since the end of 2020 by annual reporting on key environmental performance indicators: water consumption, energy consumption and efficiency, quantity and quality of wastewater released, industrial waste volumes and management, etc.
Compliance audits have been supplemented since the end of 2020 by annual reporting on key environmental performance indicators: water consumption, energy consumption and efficiency, quantity and quality of wastewater released, industrial waste volumes and management, etc.
Based on the collection of this individual data (or primary data), our goal is to evaluate the environmental efficiency of every player in our supply chain. This will enable us to not only provide information on the real impact of our production ecosystem, but also to establish objectives for continuous improvement in environmental performance in conjunction with our partners.
In the first quarter of 2021, all of Lacoste’s Tier 1 to 4 suppliers have been requested to carry out this initial reporting for 2020 production. The scope of Lacoste’s environmental questionnaire was adapted according to the type of industrial processes conducted in each partner factory. Therefore, a Tier 2 factory (dyeing & printing of textile materials) has to report a much larger number of indicators than a spinning mill (Tier 4), given their respective environmental issues.
This initial effort allowed us to test the new reporting system on a large scale by collecting primary data of 83% of our supplier factories. Most importantly, it allowed us to gather a number of insights to make this approach viable in future reporting cycles. At this stage, the reliability of the reported data remains an area in need of optimization. We will have to work with our suppliers at an earlier stage to correct some of the interpretation problems linked to the related questions and reporting parameters. We are also working on implementing an upstream control system to verify the accuracy of the stated measurements. It is essential for Lacoste to have the assurance of reliable data to enable objective interpretation and comparability and make our future decisions clear regarding the choice of suppliers with whom we want to make a long-term commitment.
A similar approach has been tested with our already approved cotton suppliers.
Working towards a global supplier grading scheme
Traceability of all participants in our supply chain, systematization of social and environmental audits, collection of individual primary data through the implementation of an annual reporting system, etc. All these steps aim to provide Lacoste with a complete and objective overview of each participant involved in our supply ecosystem.
To go even further and guarantee control of the social and environmental risks linked to our supply chain, we are now combining all of this data in a complete assessment grid for our suppliers. In 2020, we implemented a new supplier rating system.
This is based on the pre-existing system that assessed the economic and technical reliability of each supplier by giving them a score (A to D) based on criteria of quality response, financial stability, capacity for innovation and compliance with deadlines. In addition to this first rating, we have now added a social and environmental rating (ranging from 0 to 100) including :
- Scores on social and environmental compliance audits
- Key indicators for environmental performance reporting.
We began testing this new rating system in 2021 and will gradually deploy it to our suppliers.
To respond to the specifics of cotton sourcing, we have adapted this system in conjunction with a partner NGO (Earthworm Foundation) by applying the same final rating principles. A pilot test conducted at the end of 2020 demonstrated its suitability and will now be extended to all partners and cooperatives of cotton producers that the brand will select in the coming months and years.
This new rating system is going to become the central decision-making tool of the Lacoste sourcing strategy. It will guide our procurement choices over the long term by focusing on partners committed to best practices. Also, it is based on this requirement that we are creating two of the Lacoste commitments for 2025 :
Our commitments for communities to 2025
of our cotton fiber will be produced by suppliers rated "Silver" or above.
of the manufacturing partners for our textile products (Tier 1 to 4) will be rated “Silver" or above.
Joining forces with those who adopt best practices
Working towards the nomination of all our partners
The new evaluation system set up by Lacoste is primarily intended to identify the partners with whom our company wishes to collaborate in the long run. Our procurement policy and requirements have always been transparently communicated to all suppliers who want to work with us.
Our primary objective is not to penalize, but rather to ensure that we share a common vision that is the basis of the entire Lacoste ecosystem: to make good social and environmental practices a prerequisite for any long term economic collaboration.
Initially, the implementation of this new evaluation grid will justify support for those who do not yet fully meet the criteria related to the requirement levels. To enable them to reach the required level, we will inform them of the expected areas of improvement and develop a short- and medium-term road map strategy to implement the necessary corrective actions. Where needed, Lacoste can provide technical expertise to help suppliers overcome the deficiencies preventing them from reaching the expected level.
However, if at the end of this improvement period, the supplier has not fulfilled the conditions stipulated in the action plan, they will be excluded from the partners selected by Lacoste. The same applies to any new supplier wishing to work for Lacoste: they must provide sufficient guarantees justifying a minimum Silver rating to be able to join the group of Lacoste partners.
Therefore, over the next few months we will consolidate an updated list of Tier 1 to 5 suppliers approved by Lacoste. All partners we buy from directly will therefore be required to buy from suppliers nominated by Lacoste at all levels of the supply chain, giving preference wherever it makes sense from a technical, economic or geographical point of view, to suppliers with the best ratings (Platinum or Gold).
This same nomination principle applies to the suppliers we have identified in the four countries selected for our cotton supply. We are currently working to refine our sourcing logic by identifying and nominating specific cooperatives from nominated countries, with the aim that, in the very short term, the entirety of our cotton supply can be obtained exclusively from these suppliers approved by Lacoste.
Developing local communities
At Lacoste, we want our success to be shared with all those who have contributed to it. Wherever Lacoste products are produced, whether it is in the fields where we source our cotton, the places where the thread we use is produced, or the factories where our products are assembled, the direct or indirect presence of Lacoste must be in line with economic, social and environmental progress.
The value created by our company must not only benefit the men and women working in our partners’ factories, but also have a tangible impact on the surrounding communities.
For several years, we have been involved with several partners in co-financing development projects aimed at improving living conditions in the communities where they operate.
The "Livelihood" developement project
Five new projects led by our partners were financially supported by Lacoste during the 2020 year
Health and Education Project in Vietnam
To promote reading and education, a library, cultural trips and a scholarship system for the most deserving have been set up in five schools where the children of our TAV supplier’s employees attend. In addition, to teach good hygiene habits to the students and prevent them from getting sick, the school’s sanitary facilities were completely renovated and water filters were installed to all water points. This project helps 3,600 children.
Environment and Education Project in Madagascar
Social enterprise Bondy has set up a re-forestation and agro-forestry training project for the village community of Antolonjanahary, close to our supplier Epsilon who co-financed the project. Seedlings were planted at two sites. One serves as an educational nursery to teach primary and secondary school students about the importance of the environment and to provide them with agricultural and forestry knowledge. The other one is the central nursery, which allows species to be brought to maturity before reforestation, these are chosen for their environmental and socio-economic utility: fruit trees, sources of energy or forage species. To date, 6 sustainable jobs have been created and more than 1,000 children and 30 teachers have been educated.
Environment and Health Project in Sri Lanka
We supported a dual project, in partnership with our supplier MAS, to detect and treat people with kidney disease associated with poor water quality. Simultaneously, we supported a project to reforest four hectares of mangrove swamp which should improve water quality. Mangroves are home to a rich fauna which contribute to the nutrition of the inhabitants and the preservation of endangered species.
Income generating activities in Colombia
Our supplier Crystal donates products that do not meet their quality criteria as well as fabric scraps to a local association. This association trains disadvantaged men and women to sew. They use the fabrics donated to them to make new products they can then resell (glasses cases, key rings, small handbags, etc.) increasing their income. This project assists people from 25 to 60 years old.
Education and Disability Project in Tunisia
In the city of Manzil Tamim, along with our supplier we have contributed, with our supplier VTL, to the renovation of a vocational training center for people with disabilities. This building, which was derelict, now houses 55 beneficiaries in a safe and healthy space. This work will allow the center to accommodate and train more young people in the future.
These initiatives are now fully integrated into our Durable Elegance approach. By creating the “Livelihood” program in 2020, Lacoste extended its economic commitment to suppliers who place social and environmental progress at the heart of their own entrepreneurial approach.
Lacoste’s “Livelihood” program is now open to all our Tier 1 to 5 suppliers, rated “Gold” or “Platinum”. It is based on the identification of local associations that have projects with social or environmental benefits relevant to the genuine needs of local communities. Whether it is a question of meeting infrastructure needs (renovation of a school for example) or establishing social transformation initiatives that require an investment over several years, Lacoste aims to make the “Livelihood” program a driving force for progress to benefit the men and women who we are closely linked with through our supply ecosystem.
Each year, Lacoste along with the suppliers involved, commits to co-finance a growing number of these initiatives as part of the “Livelihood” program. These will be identified each year through a request for projects distributed throughout our ecosystem. All projects submitted through the three regional platforms will be reviewed by our jury in October each year to assess their transformative potential. For those selected as the most relevant, the Lacoste “Livelihood” program will provide financial support for their implementation, which can amount to several hundred thousand Euros per project.
Our commitments for communities by 2025
of our cotton fiber will be produced by suppliers rated « Silver » or above.
of the manufacturing partners for our textile products (Tiers 1 to 4) will be rated « Silver » or above.
initiatives benefiting local communities linked to our supply chain.