In 2019, 181 CEOs from leading U.S. companies signed a Statement of Purpose proposing to lead their companies toward achieving Sustainable Development Goals. However, their aims still assume that markets will evolve over time to resolve socioeconomic and environmental challenges while still making a profit. Drawing on my past research, I show how sustainably-driven entrepreneurism can be used to review specific case studies (e.g., Nike). Through semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders in sustainable development, I clarify the relationships between environmental, social, and economic development.
Research suggests that standardized measurements across the fashion industry are actually narrowing business goals, by choosing key performance indicators that show eco-efficiency gains only in terms of environmental profit and loss accounting. My interviews with stakeholders confirmed that larger businesses and members of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition will have the most to gain from these measurement tools, namely the Higg Index, which seeks to bring about consumer-facing transparency by ranking apparel and footwear companies with simple aggregated scores. These potentially high-scoring corporations, such as Nike, fail to tackle the escalating problems of economic equity, such as a fair distribution between the hemispheres and the intergenerational inheritance of natural capital. They also ignore the need to curb demand for the consumption of goods.
Using Young and Tilley’s (2006) framework, I make recommendations for the future of international supply chains, production, and manufacturing. This concept paper investigates alliances, decentralized supply chains and co-operative economics as ways to create more profound change in the fashion industry.