How do the top sportswear companies score on sustainability?

Sportswear’s focus on technical materials to help improve athletic performance and outdoor activities provides the market segment with a clear link to the environment and innovation. But sportswear also relies heavily on synthetic plastics and is weighed down by historical ties to labor abuse. So how are its biggest companies performing in terms of reducing negative environmental and social impact?

Each year, BoF Insights compares the sustainability efforts of top fashion companies in the luxury, high street and activewear segments to understand the answers to these kinds of questions. The BoF Sustainability Index assesses companies’ progress towards ambitious environmental and social goals in six impact categories, designed to align with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and efforts to curb global warming by 2030.

The 2022 edition of the index analyzes the sustainability performance of 30 of the largest public fashion companies by revenue, as reported in 2020. The performance of the 10 largest companies in each of the Three segments is assessed using a framework of over 200 questions, with companies earning a point if their public disclosures indicate they meet the required criteria. The results allow for like-for-like comparisons and in-depth analysis of market segments on fashion sustainability performance.

How did the sportswear segment perform in The BoF Sustainability Index 2022?

BoF Sustainability Index 2022 Sector Analysis

As a group, the sportswear segment slightly underperformed the overall index average, but sportswear brand Puma outperformed the overall index.

The overall average score for the 10 sportswear companies assessed is 26 points out of 100, compared to 28 points for the full index. Within individual impact categories, the segment performed more or less on par with the overall index average in water and chemicals, labor rights and waste, but underperformed in emissions, transparency and materials.

The segment’s overall performance was held back by a large concentration of companies at the lower end of the full index, with scores below 10 points and very limited disclosure of the policies and practices they have in place across all impact categories.

Who leads the sportswear segment when it comes to sustainability?

The 2022 BoF Sustainability Index is based on publicly available information published no later than December 31, 2021. Points are out of a possible 100.

Puma topped both the sportswear segment rankings and the overall index, overtaking Nike, which led the segment in the previous year’s index.

Puma’s overall score of 49 points out of 100 reflects particularly strong performance on emissions and transparency. Meanwhile, Nike fell back in the rankings to rank second in the sportswear segment and fifth in the full 30-company index.

Which sportswear companies are lagging behind?

A number of companies in the sportswear segment achieved particularly low overall scores, with Skechers, Fila Holdings and Anta Sports receiving an average of less than 10 points out of 100. All three rank among the bottom five companies in the index . Under Armour, with a score of 13, ranks sixth from bottom.

The bottom line

No company is doing enough to meet fashion’s sustainability challenges, and while the sportswear segment has a particularly wide split between leaders and laggards, its performance broadly aligns with the findings. Index General: With only eight years to meet targets, inaction by many of the industry’s biggest players is eclipsing incremental progress among the frontrunners, leaving the industry in dire need of improvement in all areas of analysis.

The BoF Sustainability Index 2022 tracks fashion's progress towards critical environmental and social goals for 2030.

How it works The BoF Sustainability Index Work?

The BoF Sustainability Index examines the 10 largest public companies by revenue in 2020 across three segments of the fashion industry: luxury, mainstream and sportswear. It assesses performance in six impact categories: emissions, transparency, water and chemicals, waste, materials and workers’ rights.

Within these categories, companies are benchmarked against 16 ambitious environmental and social goals established by The Business of Fashion in consultation with a group of respected global experts. Each target contains a series of binary metrics (201 in total), which BoF researchers rated “yes” or “no” based on information that was publicly available on or before December 31, 2021.

More information on the methodology is available in our FAQ, or buy the report from BoF Insights to review it in full.

This article is part of a series that also discusses the performance of luxury and high street segments.

For more BoF durability coverage, Register now for our new weekly sustainability briefing by Sarah Kent.

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