© Justin Jin / WWF-US

Apparel & Textiles

Within WWF’s Water Stewardship work, Apparel and Textiles is a grouping that includes any company that is primarily involved in the production of any garment, apparel or textile-related product. Furthermore, in practice, many retailers also touch in this space and accordingly, our work with the retail sector is often also tied into our work on apparel and textiles. This work also leads us into agricultural and forest-related engagements owing to the fiber-based dimensions of key materials in this sector such as cotton, leather, cellulosics, and rubber.

The Apparel and Textile sector is a priority for WWF, primarily due to its potentially detrimental impact on nature, affecting freshwater, climate, and biodiversity throughout the entire value chain — from farming to the processing and ultimately to the consumer use and disposal of garments. The current prevailing linear business model, characterized by "take, make, waste," has fueled excessive production and consumption, resulting in over extraction of natural resources and the generation of approximately 92 million tons of waste each year, which is projected to increase to 134 million tonnes by 2030. Nearly 73% of this waste is either incinerated or sent to landfills, rather than being reused, repurposed, or recycled. 

The industry's significance as a priority sector lies not only in its negative impacts, but also in its potential to drive positive change, especially in the key landscapes in which its value chain is clustered and which possess a shared issue for multiple brands. The sector has the capacity to raise awareness, pioneer and lead with innovative solutions, and mobilize collective action within the textile sector and beyond.


WWF has been working with the Apparel & Textile sector on water challenges for over 20 years across more than 10 countries (with a strong focus in key textile hub countries such as China, India, Pakistan, Turkiye and Viet Nam). This transformational work has ranged from supporting partners to assess how water and water risk is material to their operations, shaping credible strategies and the provision of recommendations on water target setting that can be embedded into organisational practices. WWF has also supported partners in implementing investments (both grant-based and bankable) in basin landscapes in areas that are strategically relevant to both WWF and our partners - with suppliers (e.g., training wet processors, supplier investment evaluation, improved cotton farming practices) all the way to surrounding communities and natural areas (e.g., restoration efforts and nature-based solutions). Lastly, WWF has provided support to our corporate partners in advocacy activities at various levels from sectoral (e.g., Sustainable Apparel Coalition, Zero Discharge for Hazardous Chemicals, Better Cotton, Textile Exchange) to basin governance to consumer mobilization. WWF enables leading companies to engage with us brand-to-brand, mobilizing positive change from global to local.  

Notable WWF corporate partnerships within this sector include:

  • Gina Tricot
  • H&M Group
  • J. Crew Group
  • Madewell
  • Nike
  • Ralph Lauren
  • PVH Corp
  • Tommy Hilfiger