Adoption Cadence Pilot

Through the Coalition’s Cadence Pilot companies who are fierce competitors in the marketplace came together to make broader, systemic change —together, we watched what genuine pre-competitive collaboration can achieve.

— Kirsty Stevenson, Vice President, Programs


It’s not often that retailers like Macy’s, Target and Kohl’s and brands like Nike, Puma and ASICS sit side by side, pooling their best efforts and ideas. Should their names be mentioned in the same sentence, it’s almost invariably as tough competitors vying for consumer dollars and loyalty—not peers united in the push for systemic sustainability. But one of the SAC’s definitive projects, the 2014 Cadence Pilot, brought rivals like these into unlikely alliance, and forged significant headway as a result.


In this pioneering six-week project, 24 brands, retailers and manufacturers committed to creating and implementing a program to massively scale the use of The Higg Index throughout the textile industry. The goal was to leverage the companies’ existing shared supply chains and coordinate communications to new facilities and trainings of their staff as a group, so that The Higg Index spread to many more manufacturers around the globe.


Through a series of webinars and one-on-one meetings with participating non-member manufacturers, marketplace competitors like Esprit, Gap Inc. and Tommy Hilfiger shared contacts and innovations, and manufacturers like Arvind, Inc brought their expertise in using The Higg Index to other, often competing, manufacturing facilities, ensuring their staff received correct training and support. Other participating companies included Williams Sonoma, Burberry, Volcom and Ann Inc.


The Pilot program achieved impressive results, including:


  • Increased penetration of use of the Higg Index beyond tier 1 suppliers to tier 2 and tier 3
  • Over 160% increase in posted Higg Index Facility assessments
  • Over 170% increase in the number of non-SAC member Facilities (manufacturers) using the Higg Index
  • Over 155% increase in connections (= sharing Higg Index assessment data) between manufacturer and brand/retailers using the Higg Index


The Pilot led to an important finding for the SAC: When industry stakeholders join forces, manufacturers have a much easier job of fulfilling sustainability assessments. Because they can track, improve and communicate their performance to their supply chain partners in a standardized way, those partners can work with facilities on shared goals more effectively—it’s a win win all around. Inspired to make the Cadence Pilot an ongoing part of SAC offerings, Coalition members agreed to turn the program into an annual process called the “Adoption Service Package.” The package coordinates assessment requests from multiple brands and retailers to the same manufacturing facilities; the facilities are then trained in using the Higg Index to fulfill the requests. This helps to streamline the assessment process, reduces manufacturers’ “assessment fatigue”, and results in more successful adoption of sustainability practices.

Ready to join the SAC?

We are building the future of the apparel, footwear, and home textiles industry, and we welcome you to join us.