The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) released the Higg Index 2.0, a web-based tool designed with substantial input from outdoor and athletic brands that is fast becoming the global standard apparel and footwear brands turn to to assess the sustainability of their products and supply chains.  

The newest version of the Higg Index is the result of 14 months of testing by dozens of apparel and footwear companies. While the index will continue to evolve, the SAC will now turn its attention from making wholesale changes to the index to enabling its widespread adoption within the apparel and footwear industry.  


The Higg Index represents the SAC's initial effort to lead the industry toward a shared vision of sustainability built upon a common approach for measuring and evaluating the impact apparel and footwear supply chains have on the environment, workers and society at large. The SAC was founded by a group of sustainability leaders from global apparel and footwear companies who recognized that addressing the industry’s current social and environmental challenges is both a business imperative and an opportunity. The work comes both in response to growing scrutiny by environmental, labor and animal welfare activists and consumers at large, as well as a growing realization that by working together they can help accelerate change across their supply chains.


SAC members include Adidas, Asics, Columbia Sportswear, Ecco, Fenix Outdoor AB, Kering, Marmot, New Balance, Nike, Patagonia, Puma, VF Corp. L.L. Bean, Mountain Equipment Co-op and REI as well as most major department stores, Target and Walmart.


The index provides anyone with a suite of tools for assessing the environmental and social/labor impacts of materials, facilities and brand-level practices. It builds on prior work by several organizations, including the Outdoor Industry Association's Eco Index, Nike’s Apparel Environmental Design Tool, Global Social Compliance Program (GSCP) reference tools, and Social/Labor Best Practice Tools (e.g., SAI Social Fingerprint, FLA Sustainable Compliance Initiative, etc.).


“This next iteration of the Higg Index raises the bar even further on our collective industry efforts to benchmark and measure the sustainability of our products,” said Beth Jensen, director of corporate responsibility for OIA, whose Sustanaiblity Working Group (SWG) developed the Eco Index that lays much of the ground work underlying the tool. “With the addition of modules for footwear, chemicals management, and social responsibility and fair labor, as well as a more sophisticated user interface, this new tool provides greater possibilities for industry-wide adoption.”


OIA SWG is particularly excited about the inclusion into the index of a Chemicals Management Module, developed by OIA SWG’s Chemicals Management Working Group. “With robust evaluation by both OIA SWG and SAC members, its inclusion in the Higg index is a perfect example of the continued collaboration of the two groups,” said Jensen.

The Higg Index 2.0 incorporates the following tools:

  • Facility Tools: These two tools are ready to be used by facilities, vendors, or manufacturers to assess specific facility sites. The include: 

    • Facility Module – Environment: Apparel/Footwear: used to assess environmental performance of material, packaging, and manufacturing facilities.
    • Facility Module – Social/Labor: Apparel/Footwear – Beta: used to assess the social and labor performance of material, packaging, and manufacturing facilities.

  • Brand Tools: These three tools are useful to Brands:

    • Brand Module – Environment: Apparel: assess apparel product-specific environmental practices at the brand level. 
    • Brand Module – Environment: Footwear: assess footwear product-specific environmental practices at the brand level. 
    • Brand Module – Social/Labor: Apparel/Footwear – Beta: assesses social and labor apparel and footwear product-specific social and labor practices at the Brand level.

  • Product Tools: These two tools can help designers and others understand the impacts of products:

    • Rapid Design Module (RDM) – Beta: Prototype to test how we can guide designers on sustainable product design with directionally correct information and streamline decision support framework.
    • Materials Sustainability Index (MSI) Data Explorer: online platform to allow users to understand the data and methodology behind MSI Base Material Scores, which can be seen in the RDM – Beta. Also serves as a data submission platform to improve the quality of material scores or add new materials.

The OIA SWG remains actively involved in the development of the Higg Index through its other issue-specific working groups, which include Chemicals Management, Materials Traceability, Index Development for Equipment/Gear, and Social Responsibility.