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  • Publication
    Zigzag or interlock? The case of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition
    (Greenleaf Pub., 2013) ;
    Gardetti, Miguel Angel
    Torres, Ana Laura
    ‘What happens when you put executives from Walmart and Patagonia in a room? This isn't the start of a bad joke, it's how the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (in short ‘coalition') was born' (Schwartz 2011). In February 2011, 30 large fashion compa- nies launched a multi-stakeholder alliance with the aim to draft a set of sustain- ability indicators for use across the entire garment industry (Moore 2011). With members accounting for 60% of global sales (Zeller 2011), the initative seemed to be a groundbreaking step forward in an attempt to green textile supply chains. Especially as it was the first grass-roots collaboration coming from the corporates themselves instead of initiated by NGOs or enforced by governments. At the same time, the new platform was critically received as just another ‘greenwashing initiative'. Many questioned the efficacy of quantifying and reducing negative social and environmental impact done within the boundaries of big-and thus bad per se?-business. Seen as an antithesis to a growing focus on local production and (re)valuation of resources and communities (McDermott 2011), the formation of the coalition could possibly endanger existing work done by organisations such as Textile Exchange and Made By. Traditionally perceived as an industry not known for its transparency, a thought- provoking question could be how members seek equilibrium between their own interests and the ambitions of the coalition. Most of them have their own sustain- ability initiatives and one might wonder how far they go in bringing these best practices to the table of the coalition. Additionally it is interesting how members view the existence of earlier initiatives and the foresight of collaboration with these institutions. Will the coalition become a strong multi-stakeholder initiative that really furthers innovation towards more sustainable business practices (O'Connor 2011)? Or will it end up being a loosely coupled network of companies that priori- tise advancement of their own brands over real industry change? In other words: will the coalition turn out to be an interlock that ties together best practices in a solid framework or will it rather be a zigzag stitch1 that allows companies to bend the rules to their own good?