Houdini Sportswear Becomes First Brand to Undertake a Planetary Boundaries Assessment

Sustainability pioneer breaks new ground in assessing their environmental and social impact to guide their ‘impact positive’ mission.

Houdini, the independent outdoor clothing brand from Sweden today launches the textile sector’s first ever Planetary Boundaries Assessment report. The report is based on a research that illustrates the safe operating space and boundaries of the planet’s limitations, “the Planetary Boundaries”. Houdini has used this framework to understand the impact of the company’s operations and prioritise policies to continue its mission towards ‘impact positive’ status.

Eva Karlsson, CEO at Houdini Sportswear commented:

“It’s Houdini’s mission to not just limit our negative impact on the planet, but to have a long term positive influence – the Planetary Boundaries Assessment is a key foundation for that ambition.”

The report has assessed the impact of Houdini’s fiber use – from understanding how the wool produced from sheep farming and grazing affect biological diversity in local ecosystems, to its impact on climate change on the global scale for example. Houdini plans to repeat and expand the project every three years. Doing this Houdini hopes to benchmark their progress by continuing to gain access and insight from their suppliers and customers across the globe.

“We aim to know the ‘butterfly effect’ of everything we do, both positive and negative, so we can build a new model of production, innovation, sales, customer experience and resource management that inspires the rest of the industry to follow suit,” said Jesper Danielsson, head of design at Houdini.

Houdini’s Planetary Boundaries Assessment was conducted in collaboration with Albaeco and is the first of its kind. Albaeco has been working as strategists in sustainable development for 20 years, and have close links with the Stockholm Resilience Centre and the latest research in the field.

“This has never been done before, and it has been an exciting learning journey for both us and Houdini. At Albaeco we have a deep insight into the research on Planetary Boundaries, but the research results do not hold all the answers on how to translate the framework into practice in this way. Houdini’s willingness to explore new avenues, and valuable dialogues with various researchers has been important for carrying out the study,” said Fredrik Moberg, CEO of Albaeco.

For someone used to reading sustainability reporting, the Planetary Boundaries Assessment is somewhat unconventional in that it takes many more aspects of impact into account. This was also the reason why Houdini wants to explore this further.

The Planetary Boundaries framework lets a brand look at responsible business from a systems thinking perspective. It doesn’t simplify or pose easy questions, it challenges the brand to learn and find out where its blind spots are.

Jesper Danielsson told us:

“It’s not just about materials or design: we want to know how we can reduce the impact of our clothing post-sale too. Can we influence more people to rent clothing? Can we build our existing reuse and recycling systems more efficiently? And how can we inspire people to seek out biodegradable materials and reject the most harmful substances used in fashion? These are all questions this and coming Planetary Boundaries Assessments will not only raise but help us to prioritise and answer.”.

The assessment provides a visual ranking system across the nine key areas of planetary impact – climate change, novel entities, stratospheric ozone depletion, atmospheric aerosol loading, ocean acidification, biogeochemical flows, freshwater use, land-system change and biosphere integrity. A single-minded focus on only one of the boundaries can generate unwanted effects in others, which is why the holistic approach is important to Houdini.

Charlotte Giver

Charlotte is the founder and editor-in-chief at Your Coffee Break. With a background in PR working in Los Angeles and Barcelona, Charlotte has been working hard running Your Coffee Break from the YCB HQ in London’s Covent Garden for the past 4 years. Dried mangos, Starbucks and runs through Hyde Park get this Londoner through the day.

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