It’s not easy being green.
Sustainable fashion is talked to death but few companies have truly embraced the concept like Timberland. At times the word “sustainability” has set off gag reflexes industry-wide. Since launching a “Green Index” labeling in 2006 to track their product line’s sustainability report card to their $2 billion 2011 buyout by VF Copr. (owners of Wrangler, North Face and Jansport), Timberland continues to break new ground where other companies have waited for enough market push to make some magic happen.
What makes Timberland unique is that they utilize a Cradle-to-Cradle concept, one of the most scientifically challenging themes wherein a company actually measures the effects they have from inception to marketplace to consumer and eventually recycling or trash. In the case of Timberland they are measuring their carbon footprint down to farms used to source bio-materials used in the making of their recyclable products.
Their efforts reach further into the sourcing of leather and partnering with NGOs. While no immediate information was available on their manufacturing processes, they have been well-reputed for fair working conditions in their outsourced manufacturing. They have even measured crop productions making sure they are environmentally safe and fair to growers.
While Timberland had shown consistent revenue growth to the tune of $1.6 billion as of their buyout, the new parent company VF is showing the same sort of success. While Timberland shows modest growth in this time, they are proving they can grow revenues through financial recovery with a forward thinking sustainable model to match their outdoor and active lifestyle branding.
It’s rare to see a company embrace the sustainable model and translate it into measurable results and financial success. In a rare showing Timberland has also offered unheard of levels of transparency in reporting their production processes and financials when it comes to their green-ness. What’s more, Timberland has been able to hold the line on prices without charging “green premiums” or higher prices for sustainable products. Most research has shown customers will not pay a “green premium” even though there are broader brand development implications to socially responsible fashion, design and manufacture.
Meeting their pricing goals, retaining customers and growing sales with a creative strategy could prove to be a model the rest of the industry (companies such as Patagonia and Nike) may embrace just as strongly and possibly filter into other consumer fashions. In fact, its no wonder that going “green” has garnered interest as companies such as H&M have instituted whole “socially responsible” lines this year.