YKK Stories

Apparel industry leaders take steps to be more sustainable and socially ethical

January 19, 2018
Author: YKK
No tags

At YKK our environmental pledge encourages us to “preserve the abundantly endowed global environment and to transfer it to the next generation in sound condition.”

Likewise, many apparel manufacturers are concerned with lessening their environmental impact so clothing does not end up in landfills where they can cause harm to the environment.
Eileen Fisher is a brand that has established itself as a leader in the sustainable fashion movement. In the past decade she has instated many programs to assist in her journey to sustainability.

The article, “Eileen Fisher Says ‘No Excuses’ in Drive Towards 100% Sustainability by 2020,” says that while most companies are continuing to increase their consumption of natural and energy resources with business expansion, Eileen Fisher aims to reverse this trend by using less water, producing less fabric waste and reducing its carbon emissions by investment in renewable energies. By 2020, the brand assures that its US operations will be better than carbon-neutral; they’ll actually be carbon-negative.

The article also states that in a bid to improve the livelihoods of the workers in its supply chain, the brand is focused on finding alternative supply chain sources that contribute fair wages, and are investing in additional programs such as The Handloom Project to improve rural community life.

EILEEN FISHER Says ‘No Excuses’ in Drive Towards 100% Sustainability by 2020

International fashion brand EILEEN FISHER has announced its new Vision2020 campaign, detailing the strides it plans to take in the next five years to attain 100 percent sustainability in its practices.

Renowned outdoor-lifestyle brand, Patagonia has also spent a lot of time and money on building a reputation as an environmentally concerned brand.

According to the article, “Patagonia’s Anti-Growth Strategy,” by J. B. MacKinnon, Patagonia’s Worn Wear program “is an attempt to draft a new compact between Patagonia and its customers. The company promises to make products that endure, and to repair, resell, or recycle them as necessary, while consumers, in turn, pledge to buy only what they need, and to similarly steward their purchases from new garment to storied heirloom to the recycling bin.

This article also gives an example of how the company tried to encourage consumers to buy less by placing a memorable full-page advertisement in the Times on Black Friday, 2011, that read, “Don’t Buy This Jacket.” The ad’s text broke down the environmental costs of the company’s top-selling R2 fleece sweater and asked consumers to think twice before buying it or any other product. The attention the ad received helped to bump Patagonia’s 2012 sales significantly.

Patagonia’s Anti-Growth Strategy

Earlier this month, a peculiar vehicle appeared on the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn: a biodiesel-fuelled, reclaimed-wood camper that could have been a food truck selling vegan “ish” and chips. But instead of a meal, the truck was made to sell a message on behalf of Patagonia, the outdoor-clothing company.

As with Eileen Fisher, Patagonia is also concerned with providing fair wages to the workers in its supply chain. According to the article, “What Patagonia Did When It Found Human Slaves in Its Supply Chain,” by Ana Hensel, in 2011, the company was shocked to learn that some of its suppliers in Taiwan put workers through deplorable conditions – including making them pay thousands of dollars just to work. To secure a job in Taiwan, migrant workers must pay a “broker” to help them find a position. As Patagonia notes, these fees can be upwards of $7,000, and can take migrant workers more than two years to repay.

To remedy this problem, Patagonia partnered with Verite, a non-government organization that focuses on securing fair working conditions for workers around the world, to implement changes in its supply chain. As of June 1, 2015, Patagonia’s Taiwanese suppliers can no longer require migrant workers to pay broker fees to secure a job. They must also repay current workers affected by broker fees. Going forward, factory owners either have to pay the fee themselves, or find workers without using a broker. The company also wrote a guide outlining its new employment standards for migrant workers, displaying it on Patagonia’s website, and held meetings with Taiwanese suppliers to explain the new changes.

What Patagonia Did When It Found Human Slaves in Its Supply Chain

Patagonia has spent a lot of time and money on billing itself as a sustainable, environmentally-friendly brand. In 2011, the company slapped its anti-consumerism “Don’t Buy This Jacket” advertisements all over the U.S.–effectively suggesting people not buy its products. And it regularly touts the work-life balance policies first codified by Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard.

In addition to these companies taking steps to lessen their carbon footprint, London-based fashion figurehead, Stella McCartney and record-breaking sailor Ellen MacArthur have also spoken out against the apparel industry for harming the environment, and they have supported a report that says microfibers are ruining the oceans. In the article, “Washing fleeces damages the world’s oceans more than plastic bottles, finds Stella McCartney-backed report,” in the Daily World, McCartney criticizes the fashion industry for being ‘incredibly wasteful and harmful to the environment.’

She and MacArthur also call for an end to fashion’s throwaway culture among claims that we will end up ‘eating our own clothes’ as a result of huge quantities of microfibers pouring into the ocean.

Stella McCartney criticises fasdhion for being ‘incredibly wasteful’

The fashion designer criticised her industry for being ‘incredibly wasteful’ She backs the Ellen MacArthur foundation and calls for an end to fast fashion The report found half of clothes are thrown away in less than a year We could end up ‘eating our own clothes’ due to vast quantities of microfibres pouring into the ocean, the report found Washing fleeces and synthetic fabric damages the world’s oceans more than plastic bottles, according to a new report.

Among the fast fashion culture, Japanese retailer, Uniqlo is exceptional in that it is taking steps to reduce its environmental impact.  For example, on its website www.uniqlo.com, the company mentions that it has an All-Product Recycling Initiative, which allows customers to either donate clothing as material for the textile industry or to donate wearable clothes to send to people in need of clothing around the world.  Customers can donate Uniqlo clothing at any Uniqlo store during store hours.

Uniqlo also mentions on its website that it is committed to eliminating hazardous chemicals from its production processes by 2020.

In addition taking steps to reduce its environmental footprint, Uniqlo responded postiviely to a negative report in 2016 that found Uniqlo guilty of dangerous conditions for workers and forced overtime within its supply chain, as stated in the article, “Uniqlo strives for higher sustainability model after controversy.”

The article says that Uniqlo’s 2017 Sustainability Report lays out in detail the seriousness with which Uniqlo takes such allegations and the remedies put in place.  In addition to a fully transparent supplier list, new initiatives include translating supplier codes of conduct into local languages to ensure full understanding, enhancing grievance mechanisms at supplier factories, and a more watchful eye on the company’s success in reducing energy, waste and water effluence.

Uniqlo strives for higher sustainability model after controversy

Fast Retailing, the parent company of Japanese retailer Uniqlo, has released a list of 146 suppliers along with its 2017 Sustainability Report, Sourcing Journal reported Tuesday. In October 2016, the company was found guilty of dangerous conditions for workers and forced overtime within its supply chain, and was called out by both War on Want and Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM), two non-profits.

An even more interesting alternative to consuming less clothing in recent years has been to use apps like Rent the Runway to rent clothes rather than purchasing them.

In the article, “Rent the Runway wants to replace your everyday wardrobe with its $89 monthly plan,” it says that the New York-based service is expanding its subscription program for everyday items, including pants, jackets and sweaters, with a new option that allows customers to rent our items each month for a flat rate of $89.  A service the company began last year offers up to four items at a time, with no monthly limit, for $159 per month.

The idea, says chief executive Jennifer Hyman, is to help women pare down their wardrobes.  Instead of buying new items each season, they can rent them and then ship them back when they’re done.

“There is so much waste when it comes to the closet – most women don’t use 80 to 85 percent of what they have,” she said in an interview.  “What we offer is newness and variety.”

Rent the Runway wants to replace your everyday wardrobe with its $89 monthly plan

Rent the Runway began eight years ago as a rental service for formal gowns, cocktail dresses and bejeweled accessories. Now the company is doubling down on its efforts to appeal to more women, more often.

Like all of these companies, YKK is also concerned with doing its part to protect the environment.  We have initiated several programs within our offices and plants to help reduce our environmental impact.

For example, with a serious global concern over a water shortage, YKK companies around the world are implementing sustainable manufacturing practices including the reuse of cooling water, the utilization of rainwater effectively and the recycling of factory waste water from production as seen in this video.

Also in 2016, YKK (U.S.A.) Inc. installed 1,968 solar modules on the roof of its plant in Anaheim, California. The installation offsets 100 percent of the facility’s energy usage and represents the fourth largest solar panel project in the city of Anaheim as well as the first solar panel project for YKK (U.S.A.) Inc. Live updates showing the environmental impact of our system are available below:

These are just a few environmental initiatives that YKK has put in place to help contribute to a more sustainable environment.

YKK also believes in manufacturing quality products that will last a long time before needing to be replaced.  We test our zippers thoroughly and have a really high threshold for breaking.


Global Website of YKK Fastening Products Group – Testing Methods. There are various methods by which to evaluate zipper strength. The basic strength can be determined based on the results of the following inspection methods, from which overall strength appropriate for respective uses can be judged.

In addition, we manufacture several fasteners that are better for the environment.  Our NATULON®  Material Recycled zipper is made from recycled materials such as PET bottles using materials recycling technologies.  For more information, click here.

NATULON® Material Recycled – YKK

YKK always tries to contribute to an environmently-friendly society. YKK’s NATULON ® product line is designed for customers who want to increase the recycled content of their products. These zippers are made from recycled materials such as PET bottles using materials recycling technologies.

Our NATULON® Chemically Recycled zipper is made from chemically recycled polyester.  For more information, click here.

NATULON® Chemically Recycled – YKK

The NATULON ® zipper is designed for customers utilizing a closed loop recycling program. Made from chemically recycled polyester (post consumer), it is perpetually recyclable. Through our NATULON ® products, we have reduced the need for new materials by employing the most advanced chemical recycling technology.

We also produce an Organic Cotton Tape zipper that is also easier on the environment.  For more information, click here.

Organic Cotton Tape – YKK

By utilizing our corespun technology, our organic cotton & corespun zippers not only achieve a cotton look, but also an added strength compared with zippers made with 100% cotton tapes.