By Ellen Wulfhorst
NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Lingerie giant Victoria's Secret, famed for its racy bras and thongs, has pledged to trace the sources of its wood-based fabrics, joining the ranks of fashion companies addressing human rights and deforestation, its parent company said.
In a new policy statement, parent company L Brands said it aimed to eliminate sources of wood pulp, used to make rayon, viscose and modal, that contribute to rainforest destruction or violate the rights of local people.
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L Brands is the latest in a growing number of U.S. fashion companies to commit to investigate its supply chain for products from destructive regions and stop using those sources by the end of 2017, according to Rainforest Action Network (RAN).
Ralph Lauren Corp, whose designs are popular on Hollywood's red carpets, adopted a similar policy earlier this month.
"Our Forest Products Procurement Policy is written to reduce threats to ancient and endangered forests and to avoid products that contribute to deforestation or human rights abuses," said L Brands' policy statement published on its website.
"We will report on our progress publicly."
Production of wood pulp can involve clearing forests to build eucalyptus plantations and taking land traditionally used by indigenous communities, campaigners say. The issue is particularly acute in Indonesia, a major producer of wood pulp.
The Victoria's Secret catalog features voluptuous models clad in tiny thongs, push-up bras and "cheekini" panties, and its top models who appear in its popular fashion shows are known as its Angels.
It is one of several companies owned by L Brands. Its other well-known brands include Henri Bendel, Pink and Bath & Body Works.
L Brands did not respond to a request for comment.
RAN said the new policy was posted on the company website late on Wednesday.
RAN, which helped develop the sourcing policies for L Brands and Ralph Lauren, has been waging an "Out of Fashion" campaign to publicize the impact of forest-based fabrics and call on major U.S. brands to adopt stringent sourcing systems.
"It's encouraging to see brands beginning to take responsibility for their supply chains," said Brihannala Morgan, senior forest campaigner with RAN.
"L Brands' commitments and actions, following right behind Ralph Lauren and among more than 60 other brands who have developed policies, can have a real positive impact for forests and the people that depend on them."
H&M, Zara, Levi Strauss & Co [LEVST.UL] and British fashion designer Stella McCartney have adopted similar policies, RAN said. Last year Stella McCartney partnered with environmental non-profit Canopy to encourage clothing companies to stop sourcing fabric from ancient and endangered forests.
(Reporting by Ellen Wulfhorst, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith; Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit http://news.trust.org)