FDRA Report: Shoe Industry Has Made Some Progress in Sustainability, But More Work Is Needed

Shoe professionals are split on whether the overall industry is living up to the increased marketing of sustainable shoes, according to new findings in the 2022 Shoe Sustainability Progress Report from the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA).

The survey, which asks shoe professionals across the industry to share their opinions and insights on sustainability, found that 74.19% of the people doing the actual work think the industry has not made significant progress, while 20.43% said the industry has not made any real progress at all. The remaining 5.38% said the industry has made great strides forward, the FDRA reported. “This reflects what we see as system constraints around construction and the need for new environmentally preferred materials impact the ability to further scale,” FDRA noted in the report.

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And as more companies develop clear sustainability targets and increase ESG priorities, the FDRA found that 54% of workers feel like they have a clear plan of action to execute, up from 43% last year. The next big push, the FDRA noted, will be tying ESG targets to KPIs and financial incentives. This survey found only 22% of companies are doing this now.

The same report also found that the growing data requests from retailers, new policies and rules, plus the need to internally measure impacts and progress are pushing companies to track more than ever. The FDRA found that 70% currently track and/or report sustainability measurements, up from 35% of companies just one year ago.

What’s more, companies are measuring more production impacts and trying to work more closely with their factories, with 76% of factories and suppliers talking more about sustainability now than two years ago.

This report comes as more footwear companies are focusing on their ESG efforts. Earlier this year, Caleres detailed its progress on its 2025 sustainability targets and well as its charitable giving and DE&I goals. In April, Crocs named its first global head of sustainability to help achieve its net zero goal by 2030. And Puma addressed the fashion industry’s pressing sustainability challenges at a conference in London in September, with the help of FN cover star Cara Delevingne.(The brand is set to receive the FNAA sustainability award later this month.)

To read the full 2022 Shoe Sustainability Progress Report, click here.

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