Imagine if fashion were a force for good. A force that creates dignified jobs and better livelihoods, eradicates exploitation, cleans our environment, supports a regenerative business model, and strengthens communities.
When we launched the global C&A Foundation in 2014, it was because we believed that fashion could achieve all this. Even if we weren’t completely sure how. Three years on, have we succeeded?
Yes. And no. But I'm confident that our approach is right.
We’ve always known that fashion’s challenges are too big for any one organisation to solve alone. That’s why, today, our focus is on finding and supporting initiatives that create significant change, well beyond our own direct influence.
In practice, this means focusing our grant-making on initiatives that have an impact greater than the sum of their parts. It means we must strengthen networks and inspire others to play their part in creating change.
For example, we’ve been supporting the transition of 25,000 farmers in India from conventional to organic cotton over the past few years. However, we know that capacity building alone isn’t enough to shift the entire system toward sustainable fibres. That's why we partnered with the state government of Madhya Pradesh, financed research into better organic seeds, and increased farmer access to drip irrigation facilities by setting up a revolving loan fund. These initiatives target key barriers to change and build on each other to ensure their impact continues to grow beyond our support.
This report shares stories about our work towards systemic change - from Brazil to Bangladesh. These stories show how we’re supporting new models of engagement, such as the Freedom Fund initiative to combat forced labour; how we’re investing in bold innovation agendas, such as Fashion for Good; how we’re advocating for policy and behaviour change, such as Fashion Revolution’s drive to increase transparency and accountability; and how we're building the resilience of whole communities, with Save the Children for example. In many of our programmes, we work closely with our corporate partner, C&A, to find the best ways to drive change.
While we have achieved a lot, we still need to do much more to transform our industry. The world now has a common development agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals, for other funders, businesses, government and civil society to work towards. We see this as an invaluable opportunity to make sure our work complements that of others so that, together, we can make an accelerative impact.
At C&A Foundation, we are focused on accelerating gender equality (5), contributing to decent work and economic growth (8), promoting responsible consumption and production (12), contributing to climate action (13), and strengthening partnerships for the goals (17).
Going forward, we will continue to integrate the work we do with this global agenda. Because the challenges we all face, in the fashion industry and beyond, are so vast that we simply can't work in isolation.
Together, we are greater than the sum of our parts. Together, we can make fashion a force for good.
We are an independent foundation. We share the same heritage, values and approach to sustainability as C&A. And we work closely together to find the best ways to drive change. This is how we are aligned on the Sustainable Development Goals.