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Fast Retailing to expand LifeWear concept to support sustainability growth

By Danielle Wightman-Stone


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Image: courtesy of Uniqlo by Aron Klein

Fast Retailing, which owns Uniqlo, has announced that it will be “advancing” its LifeWear concept to accelerate its transition to a new business model, which it states will encompass both sustainability and business growth.

LifeWear is all about “everyday clothing, designed to make everyone’s life better - to create apparel that not only emphasises quality, design, and price, but also meets the definition of “good clothing” from the standpoint of the environment, people, and society,” explains Fast Retailing in a statement.

This philosophy is part of Fast Retailing’s formulated Fiscal 2030 Targets and an Action Plan, which will allow it to place more emphasis on sustainability within its business, alongside the objective of its Ariake Project, to make and sell only apparel that customers truly want.

This new strategy it explains will be underpinned by the concept of “making good clothes that are better for the environment” by establishing an environmental policy that cares for the environment in all processes, from manufacturing to transport and sales, as well as sharply reducing greenhouse gas emissions and waste to establish a production process with a light environmental impact.

In addition, the company will develop new reuse and recycling services and technologies to extend the life and utility of LifeWear post-purchase, as well as safeguard human rights in all processes, and build a supply chain that allows customers to purchase products with trust.

Commenting on the plan, Koji Yanai, group senior executive officer of Fast Retailing, said: “Providing apparel that customers will cherish for a long time has been the aim of our business for many years. With environmental problems and other serious global issues becoming increasingly evident, we have further advanced our philosophy, and are pursuing measures to show the world a completely new way for clothes to be, while contributing to the realisation of a sustainable society.

“By moving forward with broad support and cooperation from customers and partner corporations, Fast Retailing will create the “New Industry” of LifeWear. By making LifeWear available to more customers, we aim to conduct business in a way that improves the lives of people and societies throughout the world.”

Uniqlo owner Fast Retailing unveils 2030 sustainability targets and action plan

To ensure a more sustainable business, Fast Retailing adds that it has set several targets and actions to achieve by 2030, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions, increasing the use of recycled materials, becoming a zero-waste company, and establishing traceability and transparency within its supply chain.

Fast Retailing is committing to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 90 percent across its own-operated stores and offices by 2030, compared with 2019. It will do this by reducing electricity consumption at stores through energy conservation initiatives, aiming for approximately 40 percent reductions at roadside stores and approximately 20 percent reductions at mall stores.

It also notes that by end of the 2021 fiscal year, eight Uniqlo stores in Japan will have achieved Gold Level certification by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) and that it is developing new “highly energy-efficient store formats,” and a prototype store will launch during 2023.

It is also switching electricity used by all Fast Retailing stores and key offices globally to renewable energy sources by 2030. By August 2021, all 64 Uniqlo stores from nine markets in Europe had switched over to renewable energy. By the end of 2021, all stores in North America and some countries in Southeast Asia will also have completed this switch.

Fast Retailing commits to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2030

Fast Retailing is also targeting its supply chain, with a proposed target of a 20 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Currently, greenhouse gas emissions across its supply chain account for 90 percent of the total emissions relating to the business.

The apparel group is also focusing on becoming a ‘zero waste’ company by reducing, replacing, re-using, and recycling materials used in the process of delivering clothes to customers. This will be done by getting rid of unnecessary single-use plastics, replacing plastic shopping bags with more environmentally-friendly paper bags, collecting product hangers in stores and returning these to factories for re-use, and consolidating packaging materials used in product transport into a single material to simplify recycling.

It is also aiming to increase the proportion of recycled materials to around 50 percent by 2030 and is expanding the introduction of materials that it states “place a lower burden on the environment,” such as synthetic fibres like rayon and nylon. Fast Retailing will also promote ethical and responsible procurement of raw materials, and establish procurement policies for both plant and animal-derived materials.

The new strategy will also strengthen supply chain transparency and traceability to the raw material level, as well as identify and correct human rights, labour environment and environmental issues in the supply chain, through audits at garment factories and core fabric mills.

It also wants to accelerate diversity and inclusion within the industry, by increasing the representation of female management in the company to 50 percent by 2030, enhancing LGBTQ+ friendliness of environments for employees and customers, hiring people with disabilities, and designing for diversity in stores and expanding product and service offerings that increase convenience for all customers.

Fast Retailing