United Colors of Benetton has just opened a new sustainable store concept in Florence, opposite the Santa Maria Novella train station. The shop is the result of its strategy to consolidate its best practices and improve its environmental and social performance throughout the supply chain.
The 160-sq.-meter, single floor boutique uses upcycled natural materials. For instance, its floor is made with gravel from the river Piave and waste wood from beech trees brought down by Vaia (a storm that hit the Italian Veneto region in 2018) and its walls are treated with a mineral paint with antibacterial and anti-mold properties that can also reduce pollutants in the environment.
Benetton store in Florence
The interior uses new materials created from textile industry scrap: the perimeter platforms and bases of the display stands are made with a compound of used buttons, that usually are difficult to dispose of, mixed in hydro-resin; recycled wool (in its raw wick state) is reused in the design of the perimeter lining and as decoration for the curtains of the dressing rooms; shelves, display bases and mannequins are made in “rossino,” a material created from upcycled, mixed textile fibers.
The 160-sq.-meter, single floor boutique uses upcycled natural materials.
The window displays also make use of sustainable solutions. Transparent panels fixed to the ceiling can be moved and are meant to create a sort of theatrical backdrop that forms a connection between the store and the street. The windows are completed with low environmental impact transparent LED screens, which feature content about product visuals, commercial information and communication.
The boutique is also a benchmark in terms of power consumption: it uses 20% less energy than a standard store. A system based on tiny sensors, artificial intelligence and data analysis maximizes the energy efficiency of the points of sale and guarantees comfort for customers. For example, it automatically adjusts the store’s temperature based on the amount of people in the shop.
Benetton store in the center of Florece
“The concept behind this store is unique in the world. It was developed to launch a new phase for our firm,” Massimo Renon, Benetton Group’s CEO, said. “It’s a project our company firmly believes in, a milestone on our path to becoming a global reference point in terms of sustainability, and in which Florence represents the symbol of a sustainable Rinascimento [Renaissance]. Benetton has always made courageous and cutting-edge choices in terms of social impact. We will continue in this tradition, with ever more determination and conviction.”
Massimo Renon, CEO, Benetton Group
As part of the Italian fashion brand’s strategy, its collections offer a wide range of sustainable garments in organic, recycled or BCI cotton, regenerated nylon, along with natural fibers such as linen, and other sustainable materials. Customers can then choose to take their purchases home in either washable, easily recyclable organic cotton bags or in paper bags made with materials sourced from FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified forests.
The company is also keen about sourcing sustainable raw materials through the supply chain. For instance, its wool products are made with Italian yarns of 100% extrafine Merino and Shetland wool, certified by Woolmark.
The Benetton Group has been a member of the BCI (Better Cotton Initiative), a worldwide large program dedicated to the sustainability of cotton, since 2017. The group’s goal is that by 2025 all of its collections contain only 100% sustainable cotton (including organic, recycled and BCI). In particular the organic cotton the company uses comes from certified supply chains, which are controlled by independent bodies that trace the entire manufacturing process, from the plant to the packaging of the finished garment, from the collection of cotton to the production of the thread and fabric.
T-shirts made with BCI cotton by Benetton
Recycled cotton comes from pre-consumption scraps and post-consumption scraps (including finished fabrics and pieces at the end of their life cycles). Once they are collected and divided by color, scraps are then cut into small pieces, unraveled and reused for new production of already colored yarn.
All United Colors of Benetton garments in recycled cotton contain at least 20% recycled cotton, sourced from certified supply chains.
In May 2017, Benetton Group obtained Responsible Down Standard (RDS), a certification which guarantees that the feathers and down used for its collections are sourced exclusively from geese and ducks destined for food production, according to the principles and criteria of animal welfare.
A selection of the beachwear is made from Econyl, a 100% regenerated nylon fiber made from nylon waste and off cuts, and the wadding used for the inner padding of United Colors of Benetton garments is made of recycled polyester exclusively from certified supply chains and obtained by recycling common plastic food bottles (PET).
United Colors of Benetton has also prepared “Wear. Care. Repair,” a guide on caring for garments.
The instructions consist of a series of instructions and video tutorials that explain how to carry out–at home–simple operations such as how to remove lint from a shirt, mend a garment, sew on a button and do one’s laundry without shrinking or damaging clothes. All these practices, if done frequently and with care, can considerably increase a garment’s life cycle and help to reduce its environmental impact.
As part of Benetton’s commitment to preserve the environment and pursue fair social principles, each Benetton Group’s supplier must adhere to the company’s Code of Conduct founded on the respect for human rights and the protection of the environment, and undergo periodic and unannounced audits by external, internationally recognized auditing companies.
Since 2017, the group has been part of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC), a large sustainable production alliance, whose members are fashion, footwear and textile brands. As a member of the SAC, Benetton Group has adopted the Higg Index, a means of measuring a company’s sustainability performance and involving suppliers in a process of continuous improvement in terms of environmental management systems, water and energy use, atmospheric emissions and use of chemicals.
Tops by Benetton made of Econyl
In 2020, for the second year in a row, the Fashion Transparency Index report confirmed that Benetton is among the clothing brands and retailers committed to spreading information on their supply chain and on their social and environmental impact.
The brand achieved the highest score among all Italian brands and placed among the top ten globally. Among the categories analyzed by the index, Benetton reached a score of 73% in traceability, the fourth best result worldwide.