Home Marketing Sustainable Apparel Coalition Expands, Rebrands to Cascale

Sustainable Apparel Coalition Expands, Rebrands to Cascale

Sustainable Apparel Coalition Expands, Rebrands to Cascale


The Sustainable Apparel Coalition, a global nonprofit aimed at improving the social and environmental impact of the fashion industry, is expanding into new territory: home furnishings, sporting and outdoor goods, bags and luggage.

With the expansion comes a rebrand for the coalition, which counts more than 300 retailers, brands, manufacturers, governments, academics, industry associations, and NGOs within its membership of 300 businesses. Those include Abercrombie & Fitch, Amazon and Carrefore.

The new name, Cascale, is a nod to the group’s scaling ambition as it expands beyond apparel to the wider consumer goods industry, responsible for more than half of the world’s carbon emissions. But it also follows a longstanding controversy around its measurement tools, which have been criticized for allegedly enabling fast fashion brands to greenwash.

“The combined greenhouse [gas] emissions of consumer goods on the planet is about 60% of all emissions,” Rick Ridgeway, co-founder of Cascale and former vice president of sustainability and public engagement at Patagonia, said. “If we could get the consumer goods industry to start reducing those emissions in a material amount, we would succeed—and that was always the goal right from the beginning.”

Higg’s hiccups

Cascale’s goal to bring transparency to the apparel industry hit turbulence in 2022 when Norway’s consumer watchdog ruled that the data from its Higg Materials Sustainability Index could be misleading when used to market products as “credible and trusted” through consumer-facing labels.

A third-party investigation last fall confirmed the label’s shaky standing due to self-reported data, a lack of common measurement and missing impact categories.

The group immediately began addressing the problems outlined by the investigation, some of which were already in its roadmap, though not every challenge has a clear solution. In November, Cascale launched a new tool, the Higg Facility Environmental Module (FEM) 4.0, aimed at improving data accuracy.

“Higg FEM 4.0 will bring impactful and necessary changes—from improved data quality to alignment with relevant industry standards, the updated tool offers a wide range of benefits to ultimately reshape how sustainable decisions are made along the supply chain,” said Jeremy Lardeau, vp of Higg Index at Cascale at the time.

The t-shirt of the future

Despite those challenges, Cascale remains committed to its theory of change: by getting major industry players on board, creating robust reporting metrics and then making those publicly available, it can “incentivize all the players to, year over year, reduce environmental impact and increase social justice,” Ridgeway explained.