During the last two decades, global clothing sales have doubled. This unprecedented acceleration in consumption has brought with it ecological repercussions that have become incompatible with the fragile balance of our planet. Today, the fashion industry alone is responsible for 8% to 10% of the world’s carbon emissions

1. The use of chemicals, particularly for textile dyeing, is estimated to be responsible for up to 20% of the industrial pollution in watercourses

2. Furthermore, about a third of the microplastics released into the oceans would come from washing synthetic textiles

3. Responsibility for this comes from an economic model based on intensive production and encouraging over-consumption. This model has a negative effect on the environment and quality. It also leads to a significant increase in the extraction and harvesting of raw materials, accelerated production of clothing at the lowest cost possible, an ever-decreasing number of times the clothing is worn, and finally, disposal of the clothing as soon as it is considered outdated. It is estimated that 75% of the clothes we wear end up in landfill sites or incinerators, even though the large majority could have been reused or recycled giving them a second life

 

For Lacoste, this linear model – extract, produce, consume, throw away – is simply not sustainable. Our company has always believed in another way of designing and consuming fashion. We pride ourselves on offering our customers timeless products with a long lifespan.

We have never compromised our quality requirements which ensure that our garments retain their original characteristics wash after wash. We have always used natural materials which represent more than 90% of the textile materials used in our collections.

The urgent environmental situation facing our industry drives us to go even further; this is the purpose of our Durable Elegance approach. The aim is to show that there is another way to combine the enjoyment of dressing well while still respecting the environment. This approach must encourage our industry to reinvent itself and create a future compatible with the main priorities of our time. This is why Lacoste is committed to developing fashion that embraces the principles of the circular economy. In 2020, we became one of the partners of the “Make Fashion Circular” initiative promoted by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Our commitment to this vision is embodied in an ambitious roadmap consisting of three commitments for 2025.

Our priority

elevate our products towards environmental excellence.

Our method

bring the principles of circular fashion to life.

Our ambition

increase the lifespan of our products, while reducing their manufacturing impact. 

Summary

Part 1

Measuring our environmental performance

  • Life cycle analysis
  • "DECK”: a global environmental consolidation system

Part 2

Eco-designing our collections

  • Eco-design indexes

Part 3

Committing to environmental excellence

  • Production phase: reducing the environmental impact per product we sell by 15%
  • Use phase: doubling the lifespan of our entire polo range
  • End of life phase: giving a second life to 100% of our textile waste and unsold goods

Part 1

Measuring our environmental performance

Measuring our environmental performance

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LIFE CYCLE ANALYSIS

PARTICIPATION TO THE PEF

There are methodological disparities in the environmental studies carried out in our industry. This is particularly true of Life Cycle Analysis (LCA). The lack of consistency makes interpreting and particularly comparing the results of these studies a complex exercise.

In 2020, Lacoste joined the technical secretariat of the PEF (Product Environmental Footprint) supported by the European Commission. We work together with our peers and other stakeholders to develop a methodology based on criteria definitions and calculation methods applicable to our entire industry. This will form the basis of the next environmental product rating system in Europe. Lacoste is already using the progress made by the PEF work to align its environmental performance measurement tools.

LACOSTE ENVIRONMENTAL REPORT

In 2019, Lacoste hired ECOACT, a consulting firm specializing in Life Cycle Analysis (LCA), to conduct our company’s first comprehensive environmental assessment. This study covers our three main areas of activity: textiles, footwear and leather goods.

According to 2019 data, Lacoste’s greenhouse gas emissions amounted to just over 720,000 tons of CO2 equivalent. Water consumption amounted to approximately 18.2 million m3.

The above charts show that our textile represents not only 70% of the water consumed, but also 73% of the CO2 emissions emitted by Lacoste (Scope 1, 2 & 3). It is therefore our top priority and based on this we have chosen to set our primary commitments for 2025 on our textile activities.

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"DECK”: a global environmental consolidation system

Life Cycle Analysis studies, like the one we conducted, provide a snapshot of the impact our activities have at any given moment.

However, in order to continuously monitor our actions, we wanted to equip ourselves with an innovative tool capable of providing real time environmental performance. At the end of 2021, data from our various information systems will start to be consolidated into a single software solution, called DECK.

Read more

Most of the environmental studies in our industry are based on generic data from sector specific databases. In order to perform analyses that accurately reflect the reality of our operations, we want to provide our system with mainly “primary” data. The complete traceability of our supply chain will allow us to collect the most relevant performance indicators concerning their activities from all our suppliers: water consumption, hydric stress, energy consumption and mix, waste creation and management, use of chemical products, measurement of water effluent quality, etc.). All this information will be collected in our tool, where it will be assigned in proportion to the respective volumes of each supplier.

This tool based on the technology developed by Glimpact is therefore set to become the cornerstone of the environmental management system created by Lacoste. Within a few months, our teams will be capable of producing environmental analyses for the entirety of Lacoste’s business activities or for a specific sector. It will be possible to track the evolution of several environmental indicators (validating the effectiveness of the action plans implemented.

DECK will also have the ability to produce life cycle analyses on any textile product in our collections. Consequently, Lacoste will be able to differentiate, within its entire range, products that offer the best environmental performance from those whose design needs to be reviewed. Based on this, we are working on a Lacoste definition for “eco-efficient” products. Our aim is to inform our customers’ choices in the short term by providing them with objective information on the environmental footprint of all our products.

Part 2

Eco-designing our collections

Eco-designing our collections
A large part of the future environmental performance of our products is determined by their design. Elements include the selection of materials, the physical properties of the fabrics, the complexity of assembling the various parts, and the number and type of components such as buttons, zips, and embroidery. All of these parameters help to guide the team’s choices in selecting the best options.

 

Eco-design is not a new idea for Lacoste. As part of our commitment to the Global Fashion Agenda, we have developed training modules for all our Design and Product teams. In 2020, these training courses were not only available to all of our product and design teams, representing 120 employees worldwide. The aim was to develop a strong environmental culture in our creative teams, allowing them to ask the right questions very early on in the development of new products and to direct them towards the most environmentally responsible choices.

To integrate circular economy principles right from the creation phase, our teams have developed three eco-design indexes.

  • Raw Material index allows us to evaluate a future product by giving it a grade from A to E according to the nature and origin of the fibers that will be used. Based on the state of the existing classification and publications, we have ranked all textile materials and accessories that we would be able to use at Lacoste. For example, a product made from recycled polyester or GOTS certified organic cotton will receive a higher grading than one made from virgin polyester or conventional cotton.
  • Durability index also looks at the materials selected, but in relation to their physical properties. Additionally, the robustness of the yarn used, coloring choices and techniques, tailoring methods and care instructions also contribute to the overall assessment of the product’s durability, which is graded from A to E.
  • Recyclability index aims to quantify how easily a product can be recycled at the end of its life, and is graded from A to E. The index considers the number of elements in a product and their inherent recyclability. Therefore, the more a product contains differing and poorly recyclable elements, the more its grade will lean towards E. Conversely, our iconic 100% cotton polo shirt will have an A grade.

Read more

These three indexes allow us to assess the environmental relevance of a product in its development phase. They are complementary. In fact, some design choices may favor one of the indexes yet simultaneously impair another. For example, the use of recycled cotton will favor the Raw Materials index but will lower the Durability index because of the reduced length and strength of its fibers. Furthermore, a treatment applied to a product to increase its robustness (Durability index), can hinder recyclability at the end of its life (Recyclability index).

Understanding these sometimes-contradictory environmental situations at a very early stage can help us make the right choices. At Lacoste, we do not want to prioritize any one of these three indexes. A or B grades, which can each be awarded for the Raw Material, Durability and Recyclability indexes, all reflect real environmental improvements compared to the average product on the market.
We will continually aim to increase the number of products that score high on at least one of the eco-design indexes, while avoiding a low grade on the others.

By the end of 2021, we will set our Design and Product teams improvement objectives for each collection, based on our three Eco-design indexes. Through this approach, we want to make the employees who are responsible for designing our new collections the primary contributors to the company’s environmental transformation.

Part 3

Committing to environmental excellence

Committing to environmental excellence

 

The implementation of the Lacoste environmental information and management system described above now allows us to project ourselves forwards. We aim to elevate our products towards environmental excellence by embracing the principles of the circular economy. In line with the vision set out by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Make Fashion Circular initiative, we are now making three commitments for 2025, linked to each major phase of our product life cycle.

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PRODUCTION PHASE: REDUCING THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT PER PRODUCT WE SELL BY 15%

Among the sixteen types of impacts in the PEF methodology, we consider four to be particularly relevant to our activities:

  • Non-renewable energy consumption ;
  • Greenhouse gas emissions ;
  • Water consumption ;
  • Eutrophication of water resources.

The production phase extends from the fields where our textile fibers are produced, to the shelves on which our products are displayed (Tier 5 to Tier 0). In the entire life cycle of our products, it is between these two stages that most environmental impacts occur. For example, 70% of our carbon emissions and 92% of our water consumption occur before a product even arrives in the store. However, the four impacts monitored by Lacoste are distributed in different ways across the various product development stages.

We have learned several key lessons from this overview that should allow us to effectively reduce our environmental footprint over the next five years.

  • The first lesson is the supply of textile fibers, how they are grown and manufactured (Tier 5). Cotton represents more than 85% of the fibers used by Lacoste. The methods and locations of our cotton cultivation are therefore a fundamental element for reducing our impact, primarily water consumption.
  • The second lesson is the impact of finishing processes during fabric manufacturing (Tiers 3 & 2). Specifically, the dyeing or printing techniques used, the application of chemical products to give the textiles the required physical properties, account for a large part of the energy consumption, CO2 emissions and impacts on water resources of the production phase.

These are our two main priorities. However, they are not the only ways to optimize the environmental performance of our supply chain. At every level we are looking at ways to potentially minimize our impact: transport and logistics, packaging, and our stores are other areas that must contribute towards achieving our objective of reducing environmental impact.

Finally, we wanted to single out production waste and losses in our environmental footprint analysis. This includes offcuts from the clothing production stage, which amount to 15% of the textiles produced. Considering this amount, minimizing losses and especially recovering the waste is another key aspect of our environmental strategy.

Our roadmap for cotton and textile fibres

COTTON

Cotton is our primary fabric. It represents 85% of the textile fibers used to make Lacoste clothing. The reason is because no other material offers the same physical characteristics. Its softness, suppleness, and absorbent and insulating properties, as well as ease of care give cotton clothing unparalleled comfort. It is easier to process cotton fabrics, especially for dyeing or printing. However, not all cotton is the same. Lacoste uses mostly medium or long fiber cotton, which provide excellent resistance guaranteeing more durable products. This high-quality cotton is also the rarest.

In addition to these qualities, cotton also comes at a price. Of course, it has an economic cost like most natural materials compared to synthetic alternatives, but there is also a social cost. At Lacoste, we are of course fully aware of these issues. This is why we have limited the origin of our cotton to four countries : the United States, Australia, Peru and Turkey.

Read more

Finally, cotton also has an environmental cost. The impact associated with its cultivation is well documented. Two aspects are particularly critical: the use of water resources and the use of chemical inputs. These issues are of course at the heart of Lacoste’s concerns: 75% of the water needed to make our clothes is used to grow the cotton; and a third of our impact on the eutrophication5 of freshwater resources is directly attributable to the use of fertilizers and pesticides in the fields where it is cultivated.

Increasing the amount of organic cotton in our supplies – currently at 5% – is certainly one of the ways to meet our environmental objectives. At Lacoste, 100% of the organic cotton we use is:

  • GOTS certified (Global Organic Textile Standard), a standard that we regard as
    the most demanding and rigorous in this area.
  • Sourced exclusively from Peru and Turkey, countries that prohibit the cultivation of GMO cotton, greatly limiting the risk of contamination of our organic cotton.
  • DNA testing is also used to ensure that no GMOs are present in our organic fibers.

In addition to organic cotton, we are working to locate cotton producers with the best environmental practices. To achieve this, Lacoste would like to extend its nomination logic beyond the countries of origin by monitoring at the level of cooperatives or independent producers.

Similar to what has been implemented for our industrial partners, we would like to systematically collect environmental indicators from our cotton producers, such as measurement of water stress, water and energy consumption, typology and amount of chemical inputs.

Collecting this primary data will allow us to focus on the environmental performance of the cotton we use. It will also allow us to rank our suppliers according to an evaluation scale equivalent to the one we implemented with our industrial partners (link), including the three Lacoste levels of excellence: “Silver” “Gold” and “Platinum”.

OTHER TEXTILE FIBERS

In addition to cotton, Lacoste’s Research and Development department is exploring the potential of other plant materials recognized for their smaller environmental footprint, such as flax and hemp.

Concerning “animal” materials such as wool, down or leather, Lacoste sources mostly from suppliers who have been certified according to the most rigorous environmental standards. For example, by 2023, we plan to source 100% of our wool from RWS farms or GRS (Global Recycle Standard) certified wool as an alternative.

In 2019, polyester accounted for 52% of textile fibers used worldwide by the industry. At Lacoste, we only use 11% in our collections. Other synthetic and artificial fibers are only marginally used in the creation of our products. In particular, we introduce synthetic fibers to enhance the physical qualities of certain materials, increasing product longevity. Already rarely used by Lacoste, conventional viscose will be banned from the Autumn-Winter 2022 season and will be replaced by more ethical materials such as lyocell or modal. However, these materials, especially those derived from hydrocarbon resources, are now identified as the main cause of microplastic pollution in the oceans. To limit the presence of these microplastics coming from synthetic fibers, Lacoste will gradually eliminate the use of machine drying for its products by 2022. In accordance with our commitments to the Fashion Pact for the preservation of marine ecosystems, there is no possibility that Lacoste will increase the amount of synthetic materials in its collections.

Preserving biodiversity

Lacoste actively participates in the work of the Fashion Pact as part of its biodiversity initiative. Biodiversity is a long-standing area of involvement for Lacoste. Since we first helped to protect crocodiles1 captured in Singapore in 1984, we have supported various projects aimed at preserving biodiversity1: scientific studies, protection of endangered species, public awareness, etc. Whenever possible, we have used the power of our brand to give strong voice to this important cause.


  • THE LION'S SHARE
  • UICN
  • EVERGLADES FOUNDATION
  • FDB

  • THE LION'S SHARE

    Since the end of 2019, we have been involved with The Lion’s Share. Initiated by the United Nations Development Program, this fund invites brands to donate a percentage of their budget for advertisements featuring animals. The aim? To fund the fight to preserve biodiversity, conserve wildlife and natural habitats, through field initiatives and programs.

    www.thelionssharefund.com
  • UICN

    Since 2018, we have been using the power of our Brand to work for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to highlight the urgent need to preserve biodiversity1. The “Save Our Species” campaign carried out within our collections, informed and raised awareness of the urgent need to protect endangered animal species. All profits were donated to the IUCN, to finance projects for the preservation of these species.

    www.saveourspecies.or
  • EVERGLADES FOUNDATION

    Together with the Everglades Foundation, since 2012 we have been working to measure water quality1 in the Everglades in Florida, USA, by studying the migration patterns of crocodiles and alligators living in this natural ecosystem.

    www.evergladesfoundation.org
  • FDB

    With the French Endowment Fund for Biodiversitý (FDB), we led six crocodile preservation projects between 2009 and 2014 in Nepal, Colombia, China, the Philippines, Niger, and Guyana.

    /www.saveyourlogo.org

OUR ROADMAP FOR MATERIAL DYES AND TREATMENTS

For cotton, fabric manufacturing, and especially finishing processes (dyeing, printing, treatments, etc.) is our second priority between now and 2025. These industrial processes alone are responsible for 50% of CO2 emissions, 45% of non-renewable energy use and 43% of water pollution from our supply chain.

We work with our partners to continuously optimize the processes in place. This starts by applying strict specifications, and most notably, banning the most harmful products. The list of substances prohibited by Lacoste follows the recommendations of the AFIRM Group. Regardless of their geographical location, our partner factories are also required to comply with the European REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and restriction of CHemicals) regulation, currently the most rigorous standard in the world for the safe use of chemical substances.

Read more

Lacoste is in line with the ZDHC (Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals) approach. The aim of this initiative is to limit the use of hazardous chemicals and to preserve the local environment around production areas involved with ennobling (mainly dyeing). With this in mind, we are working on the deployment of an MRSL (Manufacturing Restricted Substance List) in 2022, to ban or limit all our industrial partners from using any chemical substances considered dangerous or harmful to the environment. In addition to the chemical substances used in the treatment of materials, the MRSL covers all those used for the cleaning and maintenance of industrial equipment.

Environmental audits in accordance with the ICS standard, which includes an entire chapter on effluent management and another on the safe use of chemicals, allow us to check the environmental compliance of our partners’ factories by using independent firms. All factories that use wet processes have been audited according to this standard at least once in the last 24 months (or have been subject to an equivalent assessment when circumstances did not allow, as was the case in 2020). These same factories are also required to report the chemical and biological composition of their wastewater as part of our annual environmental reporting campaign.

Finally, Lacoste continuously tests and evaluates all the “natural” dye alternatives. Although some of them offer promising results, few of them still reach the level of durability of chemical dyes.

Yet, a color that fades with each wash is one of the very first criteria that influences a customer’s desire to continue wearing an item of clothing. Large-scale replacement of synthetic dyes with natural dyes would therefore be at the expense of our durability commitments. We are continuing our research into natural but equally resistant dyes.

OTHER SUPPLY CHAIN ISSUES

Reducing water and energy consumption in all factories
As we have seen, most of the water and energy use in product manufacturing occurs in our cotton fields and Tier 2 factories. This does not mean that our fabric manufacturers, knitting and weaving mills, suppliers of buttons, zips, packaging, and garment factories have less control over their consumption. Therefore, the annual reporting of these environmental indicators applies to all partners in our supply chain. Performance in terms of water and energy efficiency is an important part of our partner evaluation system. As indicated in the “Communities” section, by 2025 our objective is to see 100% of our partner factories reach at least the “Silver” level of excellence as defined by Lacoste. Wherever necessary, we will accompany our suppliers in implementing corrective action plans.

Transport
Our organization’s regional platforms limit intercontinental transport to only a few specific core products from our collections. However, we are always looking for ways to improve the impact of our transportation.

Packaging and plastics
We have redesigned the packaging given to our customers in store. Since the 2020 Autumn-Winter collection, all packaging in paper or cardboard are FSC certified and includes 40% of recycled paper. We also use environmentally friendly inks and have removed the plastic coating from all our packaging to facilitate recycling. The handles of our bags are now made of paper, making our packaging 100% recyclable.

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USE PHASE: DOUBLING THE LIFESPAN OF OUR ENTIRE POLO RANGE

A KEY ENVIRONNMENTAL CHALLENGE

The environmental impact resulting from the production of an item of clothing must be considered in relation to the number of uses that it will have. Consider the production of a polo shirt. Assuming that from the field where its cotton is harvested to the store shelf, its production and distribution require the use of 350 liters of water and produces the equivalent of ten kilos of CO2.

Clearly, these figures will not be interpreted in the same way if this polo shirt becomes obsolete after a few uses or if, conversely, it allows the buyer to wear it for several years. This is what we at Lacoste call the use value of a product.

The decline of this use value is one of the main criticisms that condemn the changes to our industry. In its 2017 publication, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimated that the number of uses per garment had declined worldwide by an average of 36% over the previous 15 years. The reason for this is due to the mass marketing of lower quality clothing at reduced prices.

Designing a garment that is long lasting, maintaining its quality wash after wash, has always been the most effective way for Lacoste to reduce its environmental footprint.

DURABILITY AT THE HEART OF LACOSTE'S APPROACH TO QUALITY 

Lacoste is proud that its brand has always been associated with a high-quality reputation. This is the result of our historical expertise that the company has carefully maintained generation after generation and through significant investments.

In fact, we have:

  • In 2017, created an internal training school, the Manufacturing Academy (refer to Pillar 1), to pass on our expertise and support our teams in the evolution of technologies and professions
  • Strengthened our development team. Today, it brings together experts dedicated to technical innovation, products, and materials. In particular, we have developed our ability to imagine, develop and produce innovative products thanks to our designers and prototypists
  • Continually improved our quality specifications and inspections to align the company with the highest standards and practices in the industry
  • Invested in our internal laboratory. Based in Troyes, the laboratory tests the finished products and allows us to have a global perspective on quality, with standardized and traced inspections. The laboratory recently obtained ISO 17 025 certification in April 2021, rewarding the operational success of our investments. This understanding of quality data is essential for continuous progress.

This ongoing search for the highest level of quality is also the major driving force of our product innovation initiatives, and is in line with our constant goal of creating products that always last longer.

MEASURING THE DURABILITY OF PRODUCTS

Now more than ever, it is crucial to have an objective means of evaluating the physical durability of textile products. In the past, we relied on data collected from our customers to better understand their behavior, their care habits and their understanding of quality degradation. Lacoste surveyed 3,000 customers in four countries (France, UK, USA and South Korea). This allowed us to reassess the number of times a Lacoste garment is worn. It also enabled us to quantify the number of washes after which it is still considered wearable by the consumer, i.e. not deteriorated by a hole, faded colors or other signs of wear.

However informative these studies may be, they are based on subjective feelings that could not be considered as a perfectly reliable method. In the absence of any other internationally recognized method, we have developed our own test protocol to provide an objective assessment of product durability.

We not only relied on consumer expectations, but also on the quality standards recognized in the industry along with other existing protocols. As a result, Lacoste has been able to establish acceptability tolerance limits for the shrinking of a garment or the fading of colors, for example. Together with visual tests to check signs of degradation on potentially fragile areas, this protocol allows us to quantify the number of wash cycles the product can withstand while still preserving physical properties as close as possible to those it had when it was first purchased.

At the end of 2020, we asked Quantis, a company recognized worldwide for the robustness of its environmental methodologies, to verify the validity of our test protocol. Having received a favorable opinion from them, we have invested in our laboratory in Troyes to enable us to standardize these tests during the development process of our new collections. Considering the importance of the durability issue for the industry, we wanted this protocol to serve as a reference method and be freely accessible to everyone. Therefore, it is available as open source.

In the first quarter of 2021 we evaluated the durability of our entire range of polo shirts sold in 2020 based on this protocol. For our iconic polo, the L12.12, it was 30 wash cycles (about 2.5 years of use) without a significant degradation of quality. Based on this information, we can now set targets for improving the life of our products.

DOUBLING THE LIFESPAN OF OUR PRODUCTS

Over the last few years, Lacoste’s Quality Department has coordinated several work groups to examine all available technological options and formulas to optimize thread resistance, colorfastness, as well as robustness of the seams, buttons and labeling. Another fundamental aspect to maintain the quality of the products are the care requirements. It is for this reason our teams develop products that can be washed at low temperatures and air-dried easily.

This research has now been deemed successful. By working on five points of potential “fragility”, we have extended the life of our iconic polo, the L.12.12, which was confirmed by our durability measurement protocol. Durability has doubled compared to previous collections.

Read more

From 2022, all of our L.12.12 polo shirts, that equates to almost two million items per year, will benefit from these advances. And we don’t intend to stop there. Lacoste is already working to identify areas of improvement to increase the durability of other products. Each Lacoste product is unique in its design, materials, industrial processes and manufacture. Therefore, each product is a different project. Our laboratory in Troyes is already reviewing new core products based on the Lacoste durability protocol to identify corrective actions to be implemented in pursuit of our goal to double the life span of all our products.

By 2025, we will reach a first milestone: making this goal a reality for all Lacoste polo shirts sold worldwide.

“EMOTIONAL” DURABILITY: LACOSTE'S OTHER EXPERTIS

When we discuss the life of a garment, we are not only talking about maintaining its physical properties over time. The emotional appeal of the garment must be maintained for customers to retain their desire to wear it. An item of clothing that is at the forefront of current trends can quickly go out of fashion the following season. We know that a product that is no longer wanted is likely to be put back in the closet or even thrown away, even if it is still in good condition.

To avoid this problem, the core of Lacoste’s product range has always consisted of timeless and iconic products, such as the famous L.12.12 polo. When we work on a new seasonal collection, we are very careful to avoid developing creations that would be quickly outdated.

Read more

The guiding principle is to develop clothes that our customers will want to wear again and again, and that coordinate easily with the rest of their wardrobe. Clothes that create and maintain an almost emotional bond with the owner. We pride ourselves in creating, generation after generation, an unwavering desirability and making our crocodile a rallying sign for increasingly diverse global communities of customers.

Finally, even a Lacoste product is not safe from accidents. A lost button, a tear, slight discoloration from washing at too high a temperature, etc. This is why we are exploring the implementation of new services for our customers. Several pilot schemes will be conducted in the coming months to offer repair services, refurbishment, and even “recustomization” of our products. All these initiatives have only one goal: to prolong the enjoyment of wearing Lacoste.

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END OF LIFE PHASE: GIVING A SECOND LIFE TO 100% OF OUR TEXTILE WASTE AND UNSOLD GOODS

The third and final area of commitment in our environmental policy is the end of life of our products. In the world today, three quarters of the clothes we wear end up in landfills or are incinerated. Even worse, much of this “waste” could have continued to be worn and most of these clothes that are no longer wanted could have had a new life. This is clearly a tremendous waste, both from an economic and ecological perspective.

Changing this is at the heart of the vision Lacoste shares with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation: bringing the principles of the circular economy to life in the fashion industry.

This paradigm shift is a formidable challenge. We are aware that alone, Lacoste will not be able to achieve the necessary systemic changes to create this new reality for our industry. However, we want to show that even at our level, a new path is not only possible, but is above all a prerequisite for the long-term economic success of our industry. This is what we at Lacoste call the “Global Recycling” strategy.

OUR PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITY: RECYCLE OUR OWN TEXTILE WASTE

Even before considering the end of life of Lacoste products, we believe our first responsibility is to ensure an end of life for all the textile materials we have produced without our customers ever seeing them (rolls of unused fabric, offcuts, products that do not pass quality tests, unsold items, etc). All of this accounts for around 1 668 tons of materials that we are primarily responsible for recovering.

The vast majority of this waste is the result of material losses during the manufacturing process. Cuttings and unused materials represent approximately 15% of all fabrics purchased by Lacoste. Our Product and Design teams are continually developing cutting models and “patterns” for the most optimal use of fabric. Today, thanks to computer modeling, we have achieved a level of efficiency that brings us close to the lowest possible level of material loss, leaving only minor areas for improvement in the production stages. In addition, to reduce the volume of waste (unused fabrics at the end of the collection), we have been working with our partners for a long time to adapt our orders to precisely meet our production needs.

The second largest source of loss is, to a much lesser degree, finished products that do not meet Lacoste’s quality requirements. Obviously there is no possibility that we will compromise on this by lowering our standards. On the contrary, we increase the requirements of our specifications with our partners each year. Also, to reduce the amount of defective products, we prefer partners who prioritize manufacturing quality. We build long-term relationships with them based on collaboration, by ensuring continuous dialog between our teams and by sharing our expertise through ongoing technical support and dedicated training.

Read more

Finally, measures are in progress to reduce other types of textile waste: 3D prototyping of products is being implemented, reducing the amount of commercial samples (halved between 2020 and 2021), fiber waste, etc. Unsold products represent only 0.4% of manufactured products, a very low proportion compared to industry averages. These are products that remain in stock in our warehouses and stores at the end of a collection.

At Lacoste, we take great care to improve our sales forecasts each season in order to align our production as closely as possible to customer demand. We have already committed ourselves to guaranteeing “zero destruction” for unsold products.

Better still would be to give them a second life, maximizing their value wherever possible bringing us closer to a closed loop. Therefore, our cotton polo shirts showing defects have been recovered and recycled to make new fibers. Up to 30% of this fiber has been used to produce the yarn which makes our LOOP polo, to be marketed in early 2021.

The Loop Polo is leading showing the way forward by exploiting the approximately 1 700 tons of material generated by our activities in 2020. Our goal is for 100% of them to experience a second life by 2025. This requires us to further strengthen collaboration with our partners to ensure this waste is recycled. This involves identifying or implementing a system tracking this waste as well as efficient recycling channels to maximize the recovery of these resources wherever we operate.

The difficulty of this lies in the wide variety of the products that make up our feedstock of textile wastes (leftover fabric rolls, off cuts, finished products, etc). Some is made from 100% cotton, and others from wool or polyester. Some even contain a mixture of different fibers. These products can be in a wide variety of colors, some printed, some embroidered. Each combination has its own recycling process. In certain cases, technological barriers can make their recycling more complex or impact the quality of the recycled material.

All of this waste cannot be reused to manufacture new Lacoste products in a closed circuit. Whenever technically and qualitatively possible, this will be the preferred method. If not, we will ensure that these materials are recycled into yarn for the textile industry, or at the very least, for other industrial applications such as thermal insulation or seat upholstery.

A Recycling department based in Hong Kong is dedicated to finding the most appropriate solution for each situation and for all regional circumstances. They perform this task in close collaboration with our Research and Development, Purchasing, Quality and Operations teams. They also advise our Product & Design teams on how to design products with better end of life recyclability (link to Recyclability Index) optimizing their future recovery potential. Finally, Lacoste’s Recycling Department is building a global network of technical and industrial partners to implement recycling processes at each of our platforms and to explore the potential of emerging technologies. This will enable us to take a new step by extending our commitment to all textile losses in the upstream stages of the supply chain: recycling waste from the manufacture of yarn or fabric in particular.

INCORPORATING MORE RECYCLED MATERIALS INTO OUR PRODUCTS

The use of recycled materials is one of the fundamentals of the circular economy. It reduces the production or cultivation of new textile fibers, avoiding the environmental impact that would have resulted. However, this virtuous solution faces several barriers that still limit its large-scale implementation.

These barriers are primarily technological. For some textile fibers, there are no reliable technical solutions, at least on an industrial scale. For other fibers, recycling processes do not always enable the recreation of physical properties equivalent to those of the original fibers.

The use of recycled materials is also impeded by market barriers. Not enough clothes are collected for recycling in the world. This reduces the development of industrial recycling capabilities and the availability of recycled textile material on the market. As a result, the supply is struggling to meet the growing demand from manufacturers and the price of recycled textile fibers is often uncompetitive compared to the raw materials. The processes enabling this industry development are to be built collectively.

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Cotton represents 85% of the material we use. At Lacoste, integrating recycled material into our clothing essentially means incorporating cotton fibers that have been shortened during the recycling process. However, tests carried out by our laboratory have shown that we can integrate up to 30% of the recycled cotton, without reducing our quality or durability requirements.

Lacoste is working to constantly increase this limit. Our experts collaborate with research centers and industry pioneers to increase the strength of recycled cotton fibers or to disassemble products more easily without damaging the fibers. Until these technologies can be deployed at an industrial scale, our experts collaborate with our recycled cotton suppliers to optimize the settings of the recycling equipment and further improve the qualities of the recycled cotton.

Beyond the technical barrier, Lacoste is also working to increase the amount of cotton to be recycled. This is why we are going to encourage our customers to take all Lacoste textile products they wish to dispose of to our retail outlets. Several pilot experiments will be conducted in 2021 in different regions of the world to test this initiative. Along with a new promise: all Lacoste products collected in this way will have a second life.