Product Life Cycle

An overview of our impacts and sustainable practices

Jeans being manufactured

A product has a whole life – both before it hits our stores and after it leaves our hands and is worn by our customers. Each stage, from the first sketches to where it ends up after our customers clean their closets, offers opportunities and risks for our business and all those who are touched by our business.

We are integrating sustainability more deeply into our business to create greater impact across our value chain. Additionally, viewing our material issues alongside our value chain allows us to develop programs more directly target to the areas of greatest impact.

We are integrating sustainability more deeply into our business to create greater impact across our value chain.

1. Design and Development

Because most of a product’s environmental impacts are determined at the concept phase, our designers’ creative vision can ultimately affect people and the environment. As they bring this vision to life by placing orders with independent suppliers, our production and sourcing teams have significant influence over who makes our clothes—which affects our ability to improve working conditions inside facilities as well as address our environmental footprint.

2. Raw Materials and Processing (Tier 3)

Our products use many types of fibers — natural cellulosic fibers, like cotton and linen, synthetic fibers, like polyester and spandex, and pulp-based manufactured cellulosic fibers, like rayon and modal. We work to minimize the social and environmental impacts unique to each fiber. We place a special focus on cotton, given its importance to many of our products and water-intensive production process. We are also taking steps to ensure that we source more sustainable synthetic and man-made cellulosic fibers.

3. Textile Manufacturing (Tier 2)

Fabric mills use large quantities of water, and the chemicals used to dye and finish fabrics may pose a risk to local waterways if not treated properly. Our Mill Sustainability Program establishes clear environmental standards, and we are integrating those standards into our sourcing decisions. We also aim to scale improvements across the industry by working with our peers to identify and share best practices for improving the use of water, chemicals and energy.

4. Product + Finishing (Tier 1)

We believe in a comprehensive approach for improving working conditions in our supply chain, combining facility monitoring and capability building programs to help our suppliers continuously improve. We also engage closely with all of our vendors to measure and address their environmental impact.

5. Logistics + Distribution

We ship products through a combination of sea, air, truck and rail from supplier facilities to our distribution centers and then on to stores or directly to customers. We use the optimal mix of shipping options based on speed, cost and sustainability and have taken steps to conserve energy and reduce waste at our distribution centers, the largest facilities we own and operate.

6. Retail Stores

Our stores express who we are — from our style to our commitment to operating in a way that cares for both people and the environment. They are where we sell our products and communicate directly with our employees and customers. As part of our owned and operated footprint, they offer an opportunity to reduce our environmental footprint. We also run our This Way Ahead program at our stores to help young people with barriers to employment obtain their first jobs. 

7. Consumer Use and Circularity

How our customers wear, care for and discard their clothes accounts for a portion of our products’ total environmental footprint. We use product labeling, catalogs, social media and blog posts to share our efforts to improve sustainability. This informs customers about our work, inspires them to consider water use in their daily lives and communicates the urgency of our environmental and social initiatives. Recognizing that we have an opportunity to improve circularity, we engage with and contribute to industrywide solutions to end-of-life impacts.