The retail conglomerate, which includes brands Chico’s, White House Black Market and Soma, recently published its 2022 sustainability update outlining its latest efforts to minimize its environmental footprint.
The company has focused on a few core areas to improve its sustainability, including innovative technologies, raw sourcing materials and in-house recycling, as well as efforts at its headquarters and operations.
The retail company has adopted 3D technology into its design process across brands, which can help reduce the number of samples every season through the use of 3D modeling of designs in the development phase. The technology also enables greater collaboration and more consistency on sizing. Soma has also added digital printing in its Foundations collection, reducing water, energy and color pigments compared to traditional printing methods. White House Black Market and Chico’s have both emphasized more sustainable practices for denim finishing, including laser printing, mechanical dry processing techniques, biodegradable cellulase enzyme finishes and ozone bleaching, which reduces reliance on potentially harmful chemicals.
On the raw materials, all three brands have utilized more sustainable fabric options, including recycled and sustainably-sourced materials such as Unifi's REPREVE, Lenzing's TENCEL and ECOVERO and Eastman's Naia fabrics that use biodegradable wood-based fibers and closed-loop chemical recapture processes to help local water tables remain viable.
"Sustainability is a journey that we are navigating together with our customers, our Associates and our value chain partners and we are always actively looking for ways to better our impact on the planet," Kristin Gwinner, Chico's FAS executive vice president, chief human resources officer, said in a statement. "We are customer-led and product-obsessed. It is our goal to be a responsible steward of our planet's resources, and to be recognized as a brand that cares for the environment. In doing so, we can ensure we are designing to value, including elements our shoppers feel are truly important and continue innovating our design processes in ways that utilize natural resources in the best, most ethical way possible."
The report also laid out Chico’s FAS’s in-store recycling efforts, with the retailer regularly donating gently-used clothing to women in need to extend the life cycle of the items. In addition, the retailer recycles unusable product materials and components for use as raw materials in other applications and beyond.
In particular, Soma supports two organizations to upcycle bras to I Support the Girls and The Bra Recyclers. The donations support women facing homelessness, impoverishment or distress. With these recycling initiatives, consumers can drop off gently-used bras, underwear and menstrual hygiene products to be donated––or kept out of the landfill. Soma has collected and donated more than two million bras to women in need over the last decade, the company said.
Similarly, White House Black Market has collected over 8,000 pounds of denim from its stores through its recycling program, Give Back: Recycle Your Jeans with WHBM, in partnership with Cotton Incorporated's Blue Jeans Go Green. The brand is re-offering this program from April 22-25 to coincide with Earth Day on April 22.
At its headquarters in Sanibel Island, Florida, Chico’s FAS also said it has ongoing sustainability efforts, including recycling, reducing energy usage, going paperless, identifying environmentally-friendly office supply alternatives and factoring green optimization efforts into its overall logistics and transportation programs.