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Sustainable strides: BESTSELLER’s journey in fashion leadership

Embark on a thought-provoking expedition into sustainability within the fashion industry with our new series on Images Business of Fashion. In this series, we traverse the intricate pathways of visionary brands committed to reshaping the narrative of fashion through sustainable initiatives. As we journey forward, we uncover the strategies and the profound ethos that propels these brands toward a greener, more responsible future.

In each installment, we unravel the layers of innovation, dedication, and conscious decision-making that define the leadership of these brands. From reimagining supply chains to championing eco-friendly materials, these trailblazers exemplify a paradigm shift towards a more sustainable and ethical fashion landscape.

This week, IMAGES Business of Fashion explores BESTSELLER‘s sustainability initiatives, unveiling their innovative strides in reshaping the fashion industry.

BESTSELLER is an international, family-owned fashion company with almost half a century’s experience producing fashion for people of all ages. Founded by the Holch Povlsen family in Denmark in 1975, BESTSELLER has always remained true to the family values at its core. The company has a global reach and brings clothes and accessories to customers around the world via brands that include Jack & Jones, Vero Moda, Only, Mamalicious, Vila, Object, Selected, Y.A.S, Noisy May, Pieces and Name It. The company’s business activities involve thousands of people across six continents and cooperate with 381 suppliers and 738 factories across 15 countries.

BESTSELLER Specs
> BESTSELLER has a range of more than 20 brands, including Jack & Jones, Vero Moda and Only.
> Today, their products are sold in 70 countries across Europe, Asia, North America, South America, Oceania and the Middle East. The company’s wholesale business sells its products to more than 17,000 multi-brand and department stores globally.
> There are approximately 3,000 branded BESTSELLER retail stores in 32 countries globally. The company owns approximately 2,400 of these stores, while the other stores are operated by partners.
> The company has more than 18,000 colleagues working across design, logistics, sales, technology and other functions.
> Their global supply chain partners include more than 500 suppliers. Their products are manufactured at more than 800 factories, which employ over 600,000 people across 23 countries.
> BESTSELLER’s net turnover was 26.4 billion DKK in FY 2020/21.

India Presence
> Bestseller Fashion India Private Limited was incorporated on September 27, 2010.
> BESTSELLER India currently has 291 exclusive brand outlets.
> Presence in over 1500+ shop-in-shops and multi-brand franchise stores in India.
> Markets and sells four BESTSELLER brands Jack & Jones, Vero Moda, Only and Selected Homme.

BESTSELLER: A Chronology
BESTSELLER’s history dates back to 1975 when Troels Holch Povlsen and Merete Bech Povlsen opened a single store in the Danish town of Ringkøbing. Initially, this was an outlet to sell clothes for Troels’ uncle, but later that year the business expanded. So, the couple began importing their products and selling them to wholesale partners.

In 1980, Troels and Merete bought a store in Aarhus called BESTSELLER which also became the name of their company. Five years later in 1985, the main office was established in Brande where it’s still located today. Soon after, BESTSELLER started selling women’s fashion and in 1986 launched the brand Exit.

Vero Moda was launched in 1987. The very next year, they launched their first store outside Denmark was launched in Norway. In 1995, the company launched Jack & Jones, its first men’s wear brand. Since then, accessories, maternity wear, sportswear, unisex and plus size fashion have joined BESTSELLER’s range of products.

In 2001, Anders Holch Povlsen, son of Troels and Merete took over as the owner and Managing Director of BESTSELLER. Anders had begun working in the company at the age of 15 and had been Managing Director of the brand Vila since 1996. Merete and Troels are still involved in the family business. Troels as a member and Merete as the chairman of the BESTSELLER’s Board of Directors.

In 2006, BESTSELLER began transitioning to digital retailing by launching the first e-commerce platform, and two years later in 2018, launched its sustainability strategy, Fashion FWD, setting ambitious goals for integrating sustainability across the business As part of a major global industry, BESTSELLER is a significant contributor in creating jobs and securing livelihoods for thousands of people.

Facts & Figures 
> BESTSELLER has shops in most European countries, the Middle East, India, China, Uruguay, and Canada (over 45 countries in total).
> It is one of the biggest European fashion companies in China with more than 1,200 shops and is said to be ‘one of the only foreign clothing companies successful at penetrating the middle price range Chinese consumer market’.
> More than 800 shops are selling Vero Moda around the globe. The Jack & Jones brand is sold in approximately 2,000 retail shops, of which 270 are Jack & Jones franchises.As part of a major global industry, BESTSELLER is a significant contributor to creating jobs and securing livelihoods for thousands of people.


Sustainability Goals

2021: The target is to safeguard future water resources. The brand will set targets to safeguard future water resources. The owned and operated buildings globally will be powered by 100% renewable energy.
2025: The electricity consumption in the owned and operated buildings globally will be reduced by 30%. To have 100% approved and traceable chemistry in the core products. 75% of all product orders will be consolidated in suppliers that are highly rated in the sustainability evaluation. 100% of key waste streams in the head offices and owned and operated logistics centers will be recycled or reused.
2030: The brand aims to reduce absolute scope 1 and 2 GHG emissions by 50%. To reduce absolute scope 3 GHG emission from purchased goods and services and upstream and downstream transportation by 30%.
Drive Denim Forward
To be able to produce the denim products of the future, BESTSELLER brands constantly analyze how they can improve the jeans and other denim-based products they sell, as well as work with innovative manufacturers to identify and apply more sustainable solutions. Since 2020, all cotton in Selected’s jeans has been organic and all jeans are ‘Responsibly Washed’ – the brand’s advanced finishing process that involves less water, less energy and less chemicals than traditional methods.In 2021, Selected achieved a world first – alongside Name It – when putting styles on the market made from Cotton made in Africa’s (CmiA) new organic standard, CmiA-Organic. Selected’sCmiA-Organic jeans are fully traceable from field to finished product. The fibers are grown using no pesticides, no irrigation and no genetic modification, while CmiA’s social programmes support smallholder farmers and their communities in Sub-Saharan Africa.Jack & Jones continues to raise the bar on building their existing initiatives such as Low Impact Denim. The brand launched a range of new denim styles featuring LENZING™ Carbon-Zero TENCEL™ in 2021. All emissions related to the production, manufacture and distribution of this innovative fiber have been calculated and offset, making it a certified CarbonNeutral® product.

Only developed a new denim initiative called Wiser Wash Jeans in 2021. The concept eliminates the use of pumice stones and toxic chemicals involved in the traditional washing of indigo denim. Instead, Wiser Wash Jeans create abrasions and contrasts using very little water. The first style using this initiative has been designed for Only’s NOOS program.

To emphasize the importance of circularity, Pieces began printing information about circular design and the importance of reusing and recycling clothes inside their jeans on the pockets, so that end-consumers could read it when putting on and taking off the jeans.

Circular by Design Goals
BESTSELLER to increase the use of more sustainable materials year-on-year until all the products are circular by design.
> To source 30% organic cotton for the sustainable cotton supply by 2025.
> To source 50% of polyester from recycled polyester or other sustainable alternatives by 2025.
> 100% of the wool will be sourced in line with industry best practices, such as the ResponsibleWool Standard (RWS) by 2025.
> To drive forward post-consumer waste and circular infrastructure solutions, engaging in collaborative initiatives to turn waste into valuable resources by 2025.
> To phase out single-use virgin plastic wherever possible.

Sustainable Cotton
BESTSELLER, in collaboration with Jack & Jones, signed an agreement with the latter’s long-term Pakistan-based supplier Artistic Milliners. This will see Jack & Jones help bring Artistic Milliners’ organic cotton – known as Milliner Cotton Organic – to market via a direct-to-farm agreement.

Name It and Selected became the first brands to include CmiA-Organic in a collection.

Since the launch of Fashion FWD, BESTSELLER has made year-on-year improvements with regards to both of the cotton goals resulting in reaching 92 percent more sustainable cotton in total with organic cotton accounting for 22 percent.

BESTSELLER also joined other brands as members of the Better Cotton Retailer and Brand Advisory Panel on Traceability. Through this panel, the brand helped steer Better Cotton’s initial vision and strategy toward achieving more traceable Better Cotton in the coming years.

> Top three brands sourcing organic cotton by % of their total cotton consumption for 2021.
Name It: 80% Selected: 71% Y.A.S: 61%
> Two brands contributed the most to sourcing organic cotton in 2021
Name It: 31% Jack & Jones: 23%
> Jack & Jones worked on a 100 percent recycled puffer jacket. From the outer material to the lining, padding and trims, each jacket is made exclusively from 22 recycled plastic bottles.
> BESTSELLER also joined Fashion for Good’s Full Circle Textiles Project for polyester, which aims to scale promising chemical recycling options for polyester.

New Ideas
> In May 2021, BESTSELLER was involved in launching the Sorting for Circularity Project together with Fashion for Good and other key partners. This multifaceted initiative is conducting a comprehensive analysis of textile waste in Europe, bringing key brands and industry leaders together to accelerate circularity in the fashion industry.
> BESTSELLER supported BESTSELLER Foundation in investing in TakaTaka Textile Recycling – a Kenyan company focused on turning post-consumer and factory textile waste into new raw materials for manufacturing industries.
> Selected, Vero Moda, Name It and Jack & Jones continued to work with Bangladesh-based recyclers Cycloto to test their capabilities. Throughout 2021, the brand also participated in Global Fashion Agenda’s Circular Fashion Partnerships, which focused on post-production fashion waste in Bangladesh.
> In April 2021, Aware by Vero Moda launched a limited-edition piece with the tagline ‘The Beauty of Second Life’ – bringing BESTSELLER’s collaboration with Swedish innovator Renewcell to life using their innovative material Circulose®. Vero Moda was one of the first brands to produce a garment at market scale made with Circulose ®, which is exclusively made from recycled textiles using 100 percent renewable energy. OBJECT’s limited Autumn 21 collection also featured Circulose®, which was part of a circularity exhibition at the Copenhagen International Fashion Festival in August.
> In June, BESTSELLER announced its participation in Fashion for Good’s Renewable Carbon Textiles Project, which seeks to accelerate the development of PHA polymer fibers; a promising biosynthetic alternative to fossil fuel-based fibers such as polyester, with the potential to reduce carbon emissions in the fashion supply chain.
> In August, BESTSELLER added another three investments to Invest FWD: Circular Systems which is focused on transforming various waste streams into fiber, yarn and fabrics, Nature Coatings which transforms wood waste into high-performing black pigments, and Evrnu has invented a new engineered fiber made from discarded clothing.

Advancing Towards Circular Packaging
BESTSELLER has developed two policies regarding packaging – one focused on plastic packaging and the other dedicated to paper and cardboard. The policies cover all packaging, including trim and marketing, and are intended to reduce consumption, give priority to recycled mono-materials and support high-quality recycling.

They also represent a significant step in BESTSELLER achieving two Fashion FWD goals regarding plastics and packaging:
> By 2025, all consumer-facing packaging will be 100 percent reusable, recyclable or compostable.
> By 2025, the brand will phase out single-use virgin plastic wherever possible.

ReSuit (Box)
With ReSuit, BESTSELLER is working with various stakeholders to help establish a more sustainable textile industry in Denmark and facilitate the recycling of all textile waste.ReSuit is investigating how the textile industry can get better at designing sustainably and what technologies are best suited to recycling post-consumer textile waste.

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