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Fashion Forward: Finding Innovation in Sustainable Apparel

Independent study opportunity to benchmark innovative, effective, and scalable solutions in the fashion space.

Shopping for clothes

The Yale Center for Business and the Environment (CBEY) is looking for a team of students to participate in an independent study (equivalent to a full-credit course: 3 credits YSE/4 units SOM) in partnership with Quantis, a sustainability consulting firm.

Background:

Fashion is a top polluting industry responsible for over 10% of the world’s carbon footprint, impacting climate change more than international shipping and aviation combined.

The Fashion & Sporting Goods team and Quantis helps brands to measure their emissions and build an effective strategy to minimize their climate impact. By conducting corporate and product footprints, materiality assessments and climate strategy workshops, we have a very good understanding of their hotspots, e.g. raw material sourcing, manufacturing, transportation, use phase and end of life.

In addition to climate, there are other environmental indicators that fashion brands should consider when building a comprehensive sustainability strategy including waste & circularity, plastics, and biodiversity to name a few.

As consumer demand for sustainable products grows and investors increasingly focus on ESG, apparel & footwear brands face a critical moment: buckle down on business transformation or risk losing existing and future customers. Diverting this crisis will require a fundamental shift in how fashion companies design, operate and market their products.

The issue:

Considering the multiple factors at play and the sudden boost from the fashion industry to become “sustainable”, Quantis seeks your help to unpack this issue and understand what are the most effective strategies from leading brands in this space. We are looking to focus on climate change as a key area and expand the scope of work to other indicators (waste, plastics, biodiversity, etc.) depending on the size of project team. Below are some questions we’re seeking to answer through this independent study:

  • What are the most innovative, effective, and scalable environmental sustainability solutions fashion brands are currently implementing?
  • What does it mean to be “sustainable” in the fashion industry?
  • Are the most effective strategies implemented by individual companies, pre-competitive partnerships and/or industry initiatives?
  • What are the relevant certifications, standards, and policies at play?

About Quantis:

Quantis guides top organizations to define, shape and implement intelligent environmental sustainability solutions. Our consultants deliver resilient strategies, robust metrics, useful tools, and credible communications. In a nutshell, we're the creative geeks. Our clients trust us to take the latest science and make it actionable.

Workflow and deliverables:

Students will work with the Quantis Fashion & Sporting Goods team to answer the presented questions, walking students through examples of client deliverables (respecting confidentiality agreements), analyzing fashion brands’ supply chains, and how Quantis identifies their hotspots and partners with companies to drive sustainable change.

Students would spend the semester conducting a benchmarking analysis of innovative, effective, and scalable solutions currently being implemented by different fashion companies, specifically looking at a combination of established multi-national corporations and small to medium-sized/ startup influencer brands in the fashion space.

Students will present their findings to the Quantis Fashion & Sporting Goods team, including our Global Fashion & Sporting Goods Lead, in a PPT deck that will serve as a living document for Quantis to keep building on moving forward. Additionally, students will craft a relevant blog/article for the CBEY website.

Advisors:

  • Michelle Mendlewicz, Senior Sustainability Consultant, Fashion & Sporting Goods, Quantis
  • Michelle Dawson, Senior Sustainability Strategist, US Fashion & Sporting Goods Lead, Quantis
  • Stuart DeCew, Heather Fitzgerald - CBEY staff leads
  • Possible additional faculty at YSE and/or SOM

How to apply:

  • To apply for this independent study, please send your resume and a statement of interest no longer than half a page to Heather Fitzgerald (heather.fitzgerald@yale.edu) 
  • Please send your application materials no later than 11:59 PM on January 30, 2022.