"We are engaged in and committed to continual change and improvement. Our goals and roadmap are clear and so much has already been achieved. Together with our team we will continue to push forward with positive change. Better products and a better business for a healthier planet."
Our Commitment to Transparency
This is our fourth annual transparency report. It details how we operate as a fashion business and highlights our ethical and environmental journey. It looks at our internal operations, our people and the culture that make ELK a unique Australian brand. It serves as a public statement around our commitment to running a business with transparency, honesty and integrity, and tracks our progress against our 2025 goals.
Our Commitment to Transparency
1% FOR THE
We joined 1% for the Planet, committing to donate 1% of all sales to environmental not–for–profit groups. This significant milestone reflects our strong commitment to protecting the environment.
Our charity product label, ELK Giving, was launched with 100% of profits from the sales of selected products donated to Positive Change for Marine Life.
Our partnership with TreeProject and a $2 donation for every online order has supported the planting of 69,131 native seedlings since 2020. We also joined two volunteer planting days.
We donated a total of $126K in cash, product, and paid volunteer hours to our charity partners, up from $85K in 2020.
We have achieved a 90% reduction in our absolute scopes 1 & 2 carbon emissions, towards our target of 100% reduction by 2030.
ELK has been powered by 100% renewable electricity since April 2021. Onsite solar provides 45% of our electricity with the balance purchased as 100% GreenPower.
Our 2021 collections were made with 45% environmentally preferred materials, up from 27% in 2020.1
We used more organic cotton, and introduced our first Australian grown cotton garments.
We have traced more of our man-made cellulosic fibres with 92% coming from CanopyStyle Green Shirt rated producers.
We launched a market leading, profit-sharing incentive scheme, available to all permanent ELK employees.
We increased the amount of FSC certified new paper used to 64%. Overall 99% of our packaging is now recyclable or compostable.
We joined the Transparency Pledge and are publishing our traced suppliers for Tiers 1 to 4 on the Open Apparel Registry.
Our (RE)NEW program commenced with a soft launch in early 2022. Vintage and repaired ELK pieces are being sold in store to support a more circular economy.
We avoided 978kg of new plastic by expanding our use of FSC certified paper garment bags across more of our product range.
We have reduced our leather footprint by offering more vegan bag styles, made with lower impact natural and synthetic materials.
1 Previous years data was recalculated based on our updated ratings guidelines.
From our founders
We are a growing business, not only in size but in knowledge, experience, and intention. The collective motivation of our ELK leaders and teams who continue to build on what we have, to improve and propel us all forward has resulted in this advancement, even through difficult times.
Around us we see and feel the effects of the worsening climate crisis and it is frightening. As business founders we continually question whether what we are doing is just. How much are we contributing to this escalating disaster? Can we run and grow a business whilst limiting our effect on the environment at the same time? The answer is that as a traditional fashion business, no we cannot.
It is undeniable that we have an impact. So, with our goals driving us, we continue our mission to address ways in which we can limit it. With the guidance and efforts of Erika Martin our Head of Ethics and Sustainability and her team, we have continued to make some great progress and commitments.
The most vital thing is for Adam and I to keep our eyes open, to see opportunities for improvement and to see where we can invest time, finance and energy into change and innovation. To be the responsible business we claim to be and to cement our position as a purpose led brand we have to live and lead by example.
There is so much opportunity for us to drive positive change and we relish the idea of a year where we can work, live and progress without interruption. Our resolve to make ELK and our products more responsible is steadfast.
Marnie Goding and Adam Koniaras, ELK Co-founders
From our Head of Ethics
The climate alarm bells are getting louder, and we are already experiencing the effects of global warming. However with rapid cuts to global emissions we can still avoid the worst impacts, and every incremental reduction will make a difference. Businesses are stepping up and we are proud to be part of that movement.
At the time of writing this letter, unprecedented floods are devastating large areas of Australia. Our hearts go out to the families and communities impacted, and we are actively looking for meaningful ways to contribute to the relief efforts.
Through 2021 we have reduced our emissions by increasing our investment in renewable energy and set science–based emissions reduction targets. We also continue to reduce our environmental impacts through more considered materials choices.
Joining 1% for the Planet was a key milestone for ELK in 2021 and a reflection of our strong commitment to protecting the environment. Other highlights include the launch of our profit–sharing employee incentive scheme, our first t–shirt made with Australian grown cotton, and our continued partnership with TreeProject.
The impacts of COVID–19 on our business and supply chain continued to be felt, from more lockdowns and retail store closures here in Melbourne, to significant delays with production and freight. This has delayed our progress in some areas, and we are hopeful for a COVID–free year ahead.
We are excited about the innovations and collaborations that are starting to transform the fashion industry, however much more needs to be done. The industry urgently needs to address the issue of waste and overproduction, and to increase transparency along the value chain to reduce worker exploitation and environmental abuses.
It is great to look back on the year and see the progress we have made. We firmly believe that being a responsible, purpose led business is more relevant than ever, and our commitment to transparency, setting ambitious targets and transforming our business remains strong.
Head of Ethics and Sustainability
Our ethical &
To responsibly create products that are good for people and our planet. To support traditional trades and a circular economy whilst ensuring the creation of safe, fair and inclusive work. To operate ethically and transparently, minimise our environmental footprint and promote positive social practices.
approach to the SDGs
The United Nations have developed a set of 17 goals for ending poverty, improving health and education, addressing inequality, sustainable economic growth, tackling climate change and preserving our oceans and forests. We have aligned our 2025 goals and actions with these UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Although our strategy touches on many of the SDGs, we have identified the goals that as a fashion business we believe we can contribute to in a meaningful way.
We will continue to review and add to these commitments as we progress our strategy in various areas.
Donate 1% of our annual revenue to approved environmental not–for–profits.
SDGS 5, 10, 17
The ELK team will contribute a total of 1500 paid volunteer hours by 2025.
SDG 5, 10, 17
Reduce our absolute scope 1 & scope 2 GHG emissions 100% by 2030.1
SDGs 7, 12, 13, 14, 15
Offset 100% of our direct operational carbon emissions by 2025.
SDGs 7, 12, 13, 14, 15
WASTE + RECYCLING
Zero waste to landfill for our business operations by 2025.
SDGs 7, 12, 13, 14, 15
PACKAGING + PRINTING
100% of packaging and printed materials will be either reusable, recyclable, or compostable by 2025. Packaging and printed materials will contain at least 50% recycled content across all by 2025.
SDGs 3, 12, 14, 15
PAPER + CARDBOARD
At least 60% recycled or next generation paper fibre content2, with all virgin paper fibres FSC certified by 2025.
SDGs 3, 12, 14, 15
Eliminate problematic single–use plastics from our packaging by 2025.
SDGs 3, 12, 14, 15
Trace and publish 100% of our defined tier 1 – 4 suppliers by 2025.
100% of our core suppliers will have globally recognised responsible business initiatives by 2025.3
SDGS 5, 6, 8, 12, 13, 17
ELK products will be made with at least 80% environmentally preferred materials by 2025.4
SDGs 6, 12, 14, 15
At least 20% of our fibres and materials will be from recycled sources by 2025.
SDGs 6, 12, 14, 15
1. From a 2018 base year.
2. Applies to packaging and printed materials and includes post–consumer recycled fibres and fibres from agricultural residues.
3. Core suppliers are our direct product suppliers with greater than USD$50K annual spend. Acceptable responsible business initiatives include certifications such as SA8000, Fair trade, Fair Wear Foundation, WRAP, and B–Corporation, as well as participation in Better Work or Sustainable Apparel Coalition HIGG Index programs.
4. As defined by our ELK Preferred Fibres and Materials Guide.
Products + Materials
We are supporting sustainable forestry, regenerative farming, and clean chemistry by switching to more ethically produced and environmentally preferred fibres and materials.
Our preference is to work with natural materials that are renewable and biodegradable. Where synthetics are required for performance, we are limiting their use and seeking out certified recycled options. We support circular design principles and are working to increase our use of recycled materials.
We continue to map our supply chain to better understand where and how our products and raw materials are produced, so that we can manage risks and identify opportunities for improvement.
Total 2021 material use by weight across all product categories1
1. Figures based on 2021 unit purchases, product weight and composition. Where data was not available, we have used averages to calculate as accurately as possible. Data excludes trims and hardware.
2. MMCF: Man–made cellulosic fibres.
Material Sourcing Guide
This guide rates fibres and materials based on their ethical and environmental credentials, as well as our approach to sourcing responsibly. It is a core reference for our design team and incorporates a mix of materials we are already using, we aspire to use, we need to work on improving, and those we avoid.
The A+, A & B categories make up our preferred fibres and materials, aligned with our 2025 materials goals. This guide was updated in December 2021, and the A+ category was added to capture the transformational materials that we are looking to use more of.
These innovative next generation materials are regenerative and circular, including fibre–to–fibre recycled and agricultural wastes.
of our 2021 material buy by weight was rated transformational
These low impact materials include options that are renewable, biodegradable, as well as sustainably grown and processed.
of our 2021 material buy by weight was rated HIGH performer
These materials have good environmental credentials, and are a better choice than most.
of our 2021 Material buy by weight was rated Great option
Could be better
We will continue our search for more sustainable or certified options for these materials.
of our 2021 material buy by weight was rated could be better
We are working to phase these materials out. If they are needed for performance and a better option isn’t available, we will aim for less than 10% of the total composition.
of our 2021 Material buy by weight was rated phasing out
These materials are not produced in an ethical or environmentally responsible way, and we will not use them.
of our 2021 material buy by weight was rated we avoid
A Global Family
Supply Chain: Responsible Sourcing
We work with a range of makers across different product categories and production countries. Our preference is to work with suppliers who are going over and above compliance and implementing responsible social and environmental practices.
Each of our suppliers is at a different stage of their sustainability journey, with some just beginning the process and a handful well advanced and showing real innovation and leadership. We want to bring our makers on this journey with us and work collaboratively with them to support the workers who make our products and reduce environmental impact.
Mapping Our Supply Chain
We are committed to mapping our supply chain and tracing our fibres and materials right back to their origin, and ensuring that our products are made responsibly, with regard for workers, animals and the environment.
By 2025, our goal is to have our supply chain fully mapped and published and 100% of our core direct suppliers with credible, globally recognised, social or environmental certifications.
Tier one suppliers are our product manufacturers who cut, sew, and assemble our products.
We have mapped
of our tier one supply chain (manufacturers)
Tier two suppliers are our mills, dyehouses, printers, laundries, and tanneries.
We have mapped
of our tier two supply chain (material finishers)
Tier three suppliers are our raw material processors including staple fibre producers, spinners, abattoirs and other raw material processors.
We have mapped
of our tier three supply chain (material processors)
Tier four suppliers are our raw material producers including farms, forests and mines.
We have mapped
of our tier four supply chain (material producers)
DIVERSITY, EQUITY &
We recognise the value that a diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace and community brings to our business and everyone that we connect with. For us, this means having a diverse team, treating everyone we interact with equitably and supporting the individual needs of our employees and customers.
There is still much we need to learn about how we can be a truly diverse and inclusive business, and we are proactively taking the time to learn more about these areas. We want to ensure we are implementing meaningful and sustainable change; we do not want our efforts to be token.
We offer work flexibility and a family friendly work environment, as well as a range of initiatives to support physical, mental, and financial wellbeing. We are proud of the significant representation of women across our Senior Leadership Team, and our ability to actively role model the benefits of flexible work across all levels of our business.
DESIGN AND MARKETING
With a diverse customer base that spans eight different clothing sizes and aged anywhere from 18 to 80, we need to make sure we design for, and present our products on a variety of different people. Apparel collections are designed to suit a broad range of bodies, from size 6 to size 20 for selected styles.
Our models are selected from various agencies, and we work with diverse market representation, always being mindful to portray a positive body image from a range of backgrounds and ages.
GIVING BACK 2021
2021 TOTAL DONATIONS
1% for the planet
In July 2021 we joined 1% for the Planet, committing to donate 1% of all sales to environmental not-for–profit organisations. Joining represents a significant milestone for ELK and reflects our strong commitment to protecting the environment and taking action on climate change. We are proud to be part of a global movement that is addressing the most pressing environmental issues of our time.
ELK GIVING Program
In December 2021, we launched our ELK Giving program. As part of our ongoing commitment to 1% for the Planet, we will be releasing limited edition charity products and pledging 100% of the profits from each sale to different not–for–profits that are close to our heart.
To launch the program, we have partnered with Positive Change for Marine Life and created a T-shirt and sweater range to sell through our retail and online stores.
Positive Change for Marine Life (PCFML) is an Australian based not–for–profit organisation working with communities around the world to create long–term solutions for marine conservation issues.
We donate $2 for every online order to Victorian not–for–profit TreeProject, with every donation supporting the planting of a single seedling.
TreeProject trains and supports volunteers to propagate and care for the seedlings of indigenous trees, shrubs and grasses in their back yards, which are then planted to create nature corridors, leading to the much–needed re–vegetation and restoration of Victorian eco–systems.
2021 ELK donation = $89,016
Total ELK donation since 2020 = $114,790
We continued to support UNICEF through our customer matched giving initiative, with ELK matching customer donations dollar for dollar.
From July 2021, all donations go towards their Safe and Clean Environment Global Fund, which implements water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) projects around the world to safeguard the right of all children to a safe and clean environment.
In 2021, along with our generous customers we donated more than $20K to UNICEF.
2021 ELK donation = $10,243
Total ELK donation since 2011 = $270K+
Take 3 for the sea
Take 3 for the Sea is leading a movement of people who are connected to the planet to remove plastic debris from the environment and support measures to prevent waste and pollution.
Through education that inspires participation, Take 3 for the Sea encourages people to make a difference by taking three pieces of rubbish when leaving any beach, waterway or natural environment.
We supported Take 3 for the Sea in 2021 through our customer matched giving initiative and, along with our generous customers, donated $7,626.
2021 ELK donation = $3,813
Taking strong action on climate change is core to our values and we are reducing our environmental footprint by investing in renewable energy, installing more energy efficient lighting and equipment, and diverting waste from landfill. We are also redesigning our products, packaging and printing to have a lighter environmental footprint and incorporating sustainable elements into new store designs.
We have set a science-based net-zero target for our scopes 1 & 2 carbon emissions (from fuel, gas and electricity use), committing to reduce these 100% by 2030 from our 2018 baseline.
Elk electricity 2021
As we continue to improve our packaging, we are eliminating unnecessary packaging, transitioning to recycled or environmentally certified materials, and preferencing packaging that is either recyclable or compostable at the end of its life.
We are incredibly proud that two of our 2025 goals have already been met based on our 2021 results.
We are members of the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) and signatories to the Canopy Pack4Good initiative.