The reality of the climate crisis is fast unfolding and it’s time to take positive action. Scientists agree that we must cut net greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050 – and, given that the fashion industry is responsible for around 10% of all global carbon emissions, we know that Tommy Hilfiger has an important part to play in reaching these targets.
In 2018, PVH Corp., Tommy Hilfiger’s parent company, launched a program to help realize two bold ambitions: to see a 20% reduction in PVH’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and a 30% reduction in PVH’s greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
The program, Climate Cool, would need to bring in the passion, knowledge and expertise of people across the business. The first step was to run a major boot camp, involving 100 people from different business areas. Together, they identified the most significant areas of business activity contributing to greenhouse gas emissions: data and energy, building design, airfreight and communications. Four taskforces, set up to oversee each of these four areas, then defined a plan of action to achieve PVH’s 2030 goals and took responsibility for making it happen. To help activate change, a Steering Committee of team members with insights into and influence over different areas of the business has supported the taskforces.
“We must all take action to tackle climate change for business, humanitarian and planetary benefits.”
We spoke to Hannah Whitmarsh, Monica Visniuc and Dominique Schal about their involvement, and what it has meant to be driving positive change at the heart of PVH’s operations.
“I’m very aware of the impact the fashion industry has on our planet,” explains Hannah, “and especially in my area of work – the supply chain. So I’m excited to be able to work for such a huge, global company that is taking steps to make a difference and is doing so by drawing on the knowledge, experience and passion of its own employees.”
“We must all take action to tackle climate change for business, humanitarian and planetary benefits,” Monica adds. “I’m proud to be taking a stand by creating a climate action program that can genuinely advance the work that’s needed toward climate change mitigation.”
It’s still early days for the taskforce, but there have already been impressive results: emissions from airfreight have more than halved from 20% in Spring 2018 to just 9% in Spring 2019; 60% of countries’ stores have switched to renewable energy; and 85% of all PVH’s stores in Europe are now fitted with LED lighting.
Dominique describes how change has spread quickly through the organization. “It’s been so exciting to see the awareness you can create when you tell people they can contribute even in small ways. When everyone changes their habits, that’s what creates impact. With the specialized groups in Climate Cool focusing on raising awareness and bringing change into their daily work, it’s spreading the message and setting an example for everyone in the company.”
“It’s been so exciting to see the awareness you can create when you tell people they can contribute even in small ways. When everyone changes their habits, that’s what creates impact.”
The work hasn’t been without its challenges. Tackling climate change while also taking account of business needs is a new frontier. Monica explains: “The challenge lies in finding advanced solutions that balance carbon efficiency with business growth.”
Hannah adds that finding solutions that meet both climate and business needs calls for a new way of thinking: “Yes, we would like to transport less product by air, but how do we do that without jeopardizing on-time delivery to our customers? These kinds of roadblocks require more creative and flexible problem-solving approaches.”
But it’s critical that organizations pursue initiatives like this. Hannah describes why making these activities part of associates’ day-to-day work is essential: “It creates a mindset shift toward embedding sustainability into people’s everyday roles and I believe this is the only way we can make long-term change.”
The team is determined to build on their successes, which will depend, Dominique says, on continuing to bring people from different disciplines and backgrounds together. “This is a team effort; no one person or even one team can achieve it all. If we keep working together and trying to understand one another, we can consistently reach our goals.”
There’s a long road ahead, and it’s an exciting one. The taskforce is focused on their responsibilities – and the possibilities that come with them.
At Tommy Hilfiger, we believe clothes should be made in a way that respects the planet. We want to limit our impact, from what we buy to where we sell. So we are reducing our carbon, waste and water footprint, to create fashion that is made for life. Read more about our action plan here.