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Ralph Lauren pledges radical new sustainability strategy ‘Design the Change’

Ralph Lauren
Ralph Lauren Copyright Reuters
Copyright Reuters
By Maeve Campbell
Published on Updated
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The luxury fashion house is shifting its focus towards concrete sustainability goals and a greater sense of transparency.


Ralph Lauren has been shifting its focus towards sustainability for a while now, launching #TheEarthPolo for this year’s celebration of World Earth Day, and making a conscious decision to rethink the way it produces fabrics. On 12 June, the luxury fashion retailer announced it is not stopping there, and is now implementing an extensive sustainability strategy for the brand, which goes by the name of ‘Design the Change’.

The luxury label joins a whole host of high fashion houses in their bid to become more environmentally responsible, such as LVMH partnering with UNESCO earlier this year, and Kering chairman, Henri Pinault, taking part in a coalition of CEOs in the fashion industry to unite on sustainability objectives.

What is ‘Design the Change’?

This Wednesday, Ralph Lauren released a 2019 Global Citizenship & Sustainability Report, outlining the new initiative. It aims to use 100% sustainably sourced ‘key’ materials, such as cotton, polyester and viscose, by 2025, and will train its product, merchandising and design teams on the concept of circular fashion. More specifically, the label also plans to be entirely transparent about the chemicals it uses in the process of production by 2020, and to eliminate the use of harmful chemicals in the supply chain by 2025.

If that’s not enough, the fashion house equally promises to incorporate 170 million recycled plastic bottles in both its product range and packaging materials by 2025. It is also pledging to start making ‘science-based’ greenhouse gas reduction targets by 2020 and 100% renewable energy targets by the end of 2019.

Ralph Lauren shopfront, New YorkReuters

In a recent statement, the brand stated that the new strategy hopes to “bring clarity and focus to how Ralph Lauren will deliver the change required to create a better future.”

CEO Patrice Louvet comments that the philosophy of durability is inherent in Ralph Lauren and thus, it was perhaps inevitable that the brand would lead the charge in effecting change:

“When Ralph founded our company more than 50 years ago, he did so with the conviction that whatever we create is meant to be worn, loved and passed on for generations.”

“This philosophy is deeply embedded in our culture, our brands and our purpose — to inspire the dream of a better life through authenticity and timeless style. It also inspires Design the Change, a strategy that will accelerate our efforts to create a positive impact in society and a more sustainable future.”

While the focus remains on prompting a greener future for the luxury brand, Design the Change will also be looking at diversity, aiming for gender parity with equal representation in leadership positions by 2023. Ralph Lauren is also striving to increase its efforts in creating a more inclusive workforce, by appearing at more career fairs with a focus on recruiting LGBTQIA+ talent, among other brackets.

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