The history of SOLO Group began 30 years ago with the creation of SOL'S, its clothing brand designed for the promotional market. From day one, its creator Alain Milgrom and his teams have had a clear goal: to change habits by breaking the codes of a market exclusively focused on low prices and mass consumption. To achieve this, quality and ethical commitment to partners, suppliers and customers have become key issues. 30 years later, SOLO Group’s teams still have the same objective: to offer quality garments tailored to user needs, which are both eco- and people-friendly. Our approach is committed, progressive and focused on continuous improvement.
"We do not claim to be perfect, but we strive to continuously improve and to keep our commitments"
— Audélia Krief, Managing Director of SOLO Group
Today, all projects carried out by SOLO Group and its brands are part of the wear&care programme, launched on January 1st, 2021.
What is it ?
Wear&Care is far more than a programme, it is a global commitment. It is both a way of bringing together all our projects and a tool to measure our ethical, environmental and social progress in relation to our goals. Finally, it is a reference we take into account in each of our strategic decisions. Its content is not fixed, quite the contrary, we are keen to add new actions to keep our commitments whenever possible.
Why we do this ?
We have always taken many actions aimed at reducing our environmental impact and improving our social footprint. We now need to interconnect them, so that each action is more consistent with the others, and to link them to clear and well defined goals. Ecological and social issues are fully interdependent and interwoven: one cannot exist without the other and responses to one also have an impact on the other. We must therefore consider them as a whole and this is why we launched the wear&care programme, which allows us to provide a global response to our actions. It is not just another document or speech. It aims at bringing all our projects under one roof in order to be able to measure the progress towards our objectives. To do this, we rely on three pillars that allow us to organise our actions according to different criteria.
How we do this ?
The wear&care programme relies on three pillars specific to SOLO Group and its activity to organise its actions and measure their impact: PRODUCT, PEOPLE and PLANET. The purpose is to categorise each of our actions in order to provide a clear and relevant picture of what we are doing to improve our social footprint and reduce our environmental impact.
- LProduct is our raison d'être. Our business is to produce garments that allow everyone to express their uniqueness. Our obligation is to produce quality garments that are designed, manufactured and marketed with respect.It is therefore logical that we put the product at the heart of the wear&care programme and that we work on several areas of continuous improvement: quality, the materials used and the management of our offer.
"In such a changing textile environment, the greatest risk would be to stand still"
— Sophie Lorenzini ,Collection Manager, SOLO Group
What has always set us apart is the quality of the garments we produce. Today, we still believe that the better is the quality of garments, the more beneficiaries there will be: our customers, who will benefit from a promotional medium that matches their image; users, who will reuse it many times; the planet, which will be better off if the garment is worn many times and not changed all too often. By promoting quality, we help limit over-consumption and its environmental and social consequences.
At our head office, we have a dedicated quality department that works upstream and downstream of production by performing a series of tests on materials, seams, products and their accessories to check and confirm their wear resistance, maintenance conditions, deformation, colourfastness and reaction to the various product customisation techniques. At production sites, we have agents responsible for making sure that our quality charter is respected throughout the chain. For this purpose, they also carry out tests on products at each stage of the production chain and ensure that the quantity of scraps is as low as possible in order to limit waste.
To measure the continuous improvement of the quality of SOLO Group brands’ products, we use the “quality return rate” as an indicator, i.e. the proportion of products returned because of quality issues.
To reduce the environmental impact of our business, we need to offer ranges that are made up of ecologically sounder materials while meeting our customers’ expectations and ensuring continuity in our offer, so that neither they nor we have to destroy existing stocks. We must therefore lead this transformation and accompany them so that the change in habits takes place slowly but surely.
From 2021, all new products of SOLO Group’s brands are made from organic cotton or recycled polyester. Initially, we are offering the most sought-after products (t-shirts, polo shirts, sweatshirts and accessories for men, women and kids) in order to make these materials find their place in the market. At a later stage, we will offer wider organic or recycled ranges so as to gradually replace all collections.At the same time, we are updating some of our signature models by proposing them in eco-friendly versions for next stock replenishments.
The indicator we use is the proportion of items made of organic or recycled materials out of SOLO Group’s offering. Today, this proportion is 6.5% but we want it to become 25% by 2025. NB: 100% of RTP Apparel range is made of organic cotton since the creation of the brand.
Another way to limit our energy consumption is to propose an offering that perfectly matches market needs and expectations in order to avoid overproduction. In our market, it is also important to keep producing the items we offer to our customers so that they do not have to build a new wardrobe every year and destroy items whose production is stopped.
We consult with our customers on a regular basis in order to introduce our collection plans for the coming years to them and get their approval. This collaborative work is essential to meet market expectations both in terms of new and discontinued products. We offer our customers a picking service so that they can order only what they need, without having to manage surpluses. We plan the discontinuation of products well in advance so that everyone can make plans. If, however, products are not sold, either we give them to the most needy or we sent them to recycling companies. In any case, we never destroy any garment: all of them have a second life in a way or another.
To measure our performance in terms of range management, we use the number of items available every year, their life cycle and the number of discontinued and unsold products (that will be distributed to the most needy or recycled, as appropriate).
Today, all SOLO Group's brands offer 480 items, their life cycle is on average 8 years and in 2021 we have discontinued 47 products.
- Behind all SOLO Group brands’ products, there are people who have imagined, designed, manufactured, transported and sold them, and those who wear them. Therefore, products could not exist without these people. This is why many of our projects are aimed at improving living conditions inside and outside the workplace.SOLO Group is committed to guaranteeing security and respect for people and for their working conditions behind every garment of its brands. To keep this strong commitment, we organise our actions along two lines. The first one focuses on working conditions of workers who participate in the manufacture of products, whereas the second one focuses on the contributions we make to associations or organisations that aim to improve the living conditions of concerned people.
Actions on working conditions:
SOLO Group joined ACCORD in June 2020. This is an independent agreement between brands and textile factories in Bangladesh. It aims at guaranteeing workers that the factories they work in meet strict safety requirements and, more generally, at building a safe and healthy clothing and textile industry in Bangladesh. To date, this agreement has been signed by 190 brands and 1,800 factories in Bangladesh, representing 2 million workers.
By signing this agreement, brands commit themselves as they are responsible in case of accident. This is why ACCORD participates in financing safety remediation works of factories who signed the agreement, carries out many inspections (more than 3,800 since 2013) and organises safety training courses within these factories. By signing this agreement, SOLO Group undertakes to ensure all its partners comply with safety requirements within their companies. By committing itself alongside 190 other signatory brands, SOLO Group helps to improve labour conditions in the Bangladeshi textile industry.
Social responsibility is not an option nor a favour granted to garment workers, this is why SOLO Group has been a member of THE FAIR WEAR FOUNDATION since 2014.
The Fair Wear Foundation is an independent multi-stakeholder organisation that works with 140 garment brands, NGOs, trade unions representing garment workers and governments. It aims at seeing a world where the garment industry supports workers in realising their rights to safe, dignified, properly paid employment. To do this, the FAIR WEAR FOUNDATION has developed a code of conduct based on 8 labour standards that all partners undertake to comply with:
To ensure factories comply with this code of conduct, local audit teams assess them through on-site and off-site interviews with workers, document inspections and health and safety inspections. They then share their findings and recommendations for improvement with the brand and factory management. The brand and factory management create a concrete action plan with a clear implementation schedule to address all issues raised. Several audits are then carried out to ensure that this implementation is effective and that all code of conduct standards are fully complied with.
At SOLO Group, we know that people are our greatest strength. Women and men who make up our team are all driven by common values, a common ambition and a mindset oriented towards agility, the pleasure of a job well done, sharing and interpersonal skills.
Convinced that differences strengthen us, the team is made up of women and men with very different profiles, both in their professional backgrounds and in their private dimension. Behind every product and every SOLO Group’s brand, there are women, men, young and old people, cultures and traditions from all over the world, all kinds of families and beliefs. There is no room for discrimination in the group. Quite the contrary! Multiculturalism is part of our DNA and of the richness of our company, we are proud of it and this will not change! By the way, company agreements emphasise the prohibition of any kind of discrimination on any basis whatsoever (recruitment, career development, remuneration, access to training, etc.).
For SOLO Group, each employee represents a link in the chain, which means that if a link is missing, the chain gets broken. This is why SOLO Group is one of the few companies in France that implemented an equal profit-sharing among employees: whatever the position or the wage, they all receive the same amount. With a view to enhancing the value of knowledge, the human resource department has implemented the so-called “Generation Contract” aimed at improving access to stable employment for young people, maintaining and developing older workers’ employment, and ensuring the transfer of knowledge and skills between generations.
The SOLO Group's staff consists of 200 people in France, Europe, our subsidiaries and Asia. At our head office, the average age of our employees is 39.9 years, the average length of service is 6.5 years and more than 60% of our staff are women.
Actions for the well-being, training and health of populations:
Established in 1991, NUK is a national non-governmental organisation whose mission is to foster gender equality, human rights, personal and political empowerment of women and girls in Bangladesh. Today, NUK focuses on consolidating and structuring several programmes and institutions that now have the capacity to work as independent organisations.One of the projects funded by SOLO Group is the Agaroshindur Sufia Aftab Eye hospital, whose mission is to provide the poorest communities in the Kishoregani district with medical care such as dental care, eye care, prenatal and postnatal care, vaccination, hearing care, etc. Another project in which SOLO Group is involved through its support to NUK is the Kishoreganj Eye Hospital (KEH), whose main mission is to treat the poorest populations in the district from cataract and total blindness it causes, which leads to even greater poverty. Since its inception in 2006, the hospital has provided eye care services to nearly 65,000 patients.
The "Sreepur Village, Bangladesh" is a charity that runs and funds a women's and children’s village in rural Bangladesh since 1981. The Sreepur Village works with mothers (without male support) and their children to increase their chances of remaining a family, by adopting a holistic, residential approach including livelihood and literacy training. The core belief being that poverty should not separate children from their family. The Sreepur Village infuses hope into mothers and children through providing them with the necessary skills and tools for “a better life”.
The project provides a huge range of services including safety, shelter, food and nutrition, adult literacy and education, comprehensive health care, livelihood and life skill training, child safeguarding and protection, and social reintegration.
The Sreepur Village in numbers in 2019:
- 154 mothers benefited from the literacy programme
- 160 mothers and 350 children were provided with a home
- 212 children were sent to school
- 5 abandoned children were placed in foster families
The National Debate Federation Bangladesh (NDF BD) is one of the largest debate associations in Bangladesh. It aims at allowing students who will be the future leaders of the country to create social awareness through the practice of debate. Through practising debate people can achieve the capability of tolerating other words, opinions and conflicts, and learn to freely express their own opinion in a logical and tolerant way. To achieve this goal and allow as many students as possible to access this practice, the NDF BD organises national debate festivals, medical debate festivals, debate competitions, debate workshops, quiz competitions and leadership skills development workshops throughout the country, as often as possible
Since 1996, the mission of Mécénat Chirurgie Cardiaque Enfants du Monde (Cardiac Surgery Sponsorship Scheme) has been to operate in the best possible conditions on children with heart defects living in disadvantaged countries. As soon as they arrive in France, these children are hosted by voluntary foster families who take care of them before the operation and throughout their convalescence, until they return to their country where they will undergo lifelong monitoring. Today nine hospitals operate on children throughout France and 3,500 children have been operated on since 1996. SOLO Group, through its SOL'S brand, has been a technical partner of Mécénat Chirurgie Cardiaque Enfants du Monde for several years, providing the association's teams with complete outfits for their events.
Diseases have no borders and wreak havoc all over the world, including within our teams. This is why SOLO Group provides financial support to various research organisations such as the INSTITUT PASTEUR and the GUSTAVE ROUSSY FOUNDATION, in the hope of curing cancer before the end of the century, or the IMAGINE FOUNDATION, which focuses its research on genetic diseases.
Since 2019, SOL’S has been the official sponsor of Le Havre Football Club. By choosing to sponsor this club through its SOL'S brand, SOLO Group does not limit itself to a simple promotional campaign. Sponsoring a football club means sharing and spreading sporting values, participating in the recruitment and training of young players, and contributing to the local economy. Finally, it means being associated with great moments of sharing and conviviality that animate football fans, the club's supporters and all the people of Le Havre, to whom we are particularly attached as our warehouse has been based in Le Havre since day one, i.e. 30 years ago!
At the same time, SOLO Group has been involved in the Graines de Footballeuses association since 2020, which aims to develop, organise and promote women's football, particularly among young players. By supporting this association, we help to promote the values of football and, more generally, those of sport, and we work to ensure that women have the place they are entitled to in a world that is still too male-dominated.
As our future is inextricably linked to that of the planet, we are fighting at all levels to preserve it. We are committed to reducing our carbon footprint and that of our products as much as possible, and to seeking to move our business towards sustainable consumption and practices. To achieve this goal, we are working on several fronts: the materials used in the manufacture of our garments and the reduction of our energy consumption, particularly during production and logistics activities.
"Companies are in the best position to ensure the world stops deteriorating"
— Sylvain Breuzard,Greenpeace France, l'ADN, 07/11/2020
- CERTIFICATION OEKO TEX® STANDARD 100
The OEKO TEX® STANDARD 100 certification guarantees that garments bearing this label do not contain any harmful substances and are therefore safe for the health of the people wearing them.This guarantee concerns not only the main material(s) used in the manufacture of the garment but also all its accessories: buttons, drawstrings, threads, zip fastenings, linings, etc.
To obtain this certification, garments and all their components are tested by independent bodies according to a complete catalogue of OEKO TEX® criteria that is updated every year and expanded with new scientific knowledge or statutory requirements. In many cases, the limit values for the STANDARD 100 go beyond national and international requirements. In many cases, the limit values for the STANDARD 100 go beyond national and international requirements. In addition to regular testing, SOLO Group requires all its suppliers to have a valid OEKO TEX® certificate. All SOLO Group brands’ products are OEKO TEX® STANDARD 100 certified by the independent organisation IFTH IFTH (French Institute of Textiles and Clothing).
REACH stands for “Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals”. REACH is an EU Regulation adopted to improve the protection of human health and the environment from the risks associated with chemicals used in the manufacture of consumer goods and objects. SOLO Group complies with the requirements of the REACH regulation and ensures that all garments comply with REACH guidelines and that no RSL (Restricted Substance List) chemicals are used in the production and packaging of our products.
– ORGANIC CONTENT STANDARD (OCS)
OCS is a standard created in 2007 by the ORGANIC EXCHANGE organisation, which later became TEXTILE EXCHANGE. The non-profit organisation developed this standard to verify the organic cotton content claims on products. The Organic Content Standard applies to any non-food product containing 5-100% organic material. It verifies the amount of organic material in a final product and tracks the flow of the raw material from its source to the final product. The key points of the OCS are: only material from certified organic farms is accepted; the certification guarantees the chain of custody: from the farm to the final product; a professional, third party certification body audits each stage in the supply chain; only products that meet all requirements may be labelled with the OCS logo; the OCS is managed with the input of producers, suppliers, brands and retailers from all parts of the globe, giving it an international and widely recognised reach. There are several levels of OCS certification corresponding to different amounts of organic cotton in the final product. .
SSOLO Group decided to comply with the OCS standard as this certification applies to finished garments and not to its customisation process. Indeed, all our brands (except JOY THAI) offer garments that are customisable but not already customised. Since we cannot guarantee that decorators will apply the same rules with regard to materials they use to customise our products, we chose a label that guarantees the quality of our commitments. All our OCS certifications are issued by CONTROL UNION.
– ORGANIC 100 CONTENT STANDARD (OCS)
The OCS 100 applies to any non-food product containing 95-100% organic material. OCS 100 involves the processing, manufacturing, packaging, labelling, trading and distribution of all products containing at least 95% certified organic material.
As far as SOLO Group is concerned, this certification was awarded to all 2021 new products of each brand in the group that contain 100% cotton as well as to the entire RTP APPAREL collection. Our ambition is to gradually replace conventionally grown cotton with organic cotton in all our collections. This is already the case for SOL'S baby range and we will continue!
– ORGANIC BLENDED CONTENT STANDARD
The OCS BLENDED standard applies to any non-food products containing a minimum of 5% organic cotton. It applies to garments made from a blend of organic cotton and other materials. The new sweatshirts offered by SOL'S in 2021 benefit from this label as they are made of 80% organic cotton and 20% recycled polyester. They cannot therefore benefit from the OCS 100 label as they are not entirely made of cotton. On the other hand, we decided that 100% of the cotton in these garments must be organic.
The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is an independent label that is highly recognised by the retail sector. It guarantees the “organic” status of garments from the harvesting of the raw materials, through manufacturing up to labelling and customisation. All stages of the garment manufacture must be environmentally and socially responsible. A GOTS product must contain at least 70% organic fibres and be free from harmful substances. Its manufacturing process has to be environmentally friendly from the beginning to the end of the production chain (including customisation). Socially, the product must be manufactured in compliance with the conventions of the International Labour Organisation. Factories and all GOTS certified parties are audited very regularly by independent bodies.
Since the GOTS certification applies to each stage of the production chain up to customisation, JOY THAI is able to offer GOTS certified products to customers who so wish.
The Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) was founded in 2010 by clothing industry giants in the United States, with the aim of improving market players’ practises by reducing the environmental impact of the industry while enabling local people and communities to benefit from it. To this end, the SAC developed the HIGG INDEX, a suite of tools that measure the environmental and social labour impacts across the value chain. With this data, the industry can identify hotspots, continuously improve sustainability performance and achieve the environmental and social transparency consumers are demanding. The SAC, which brings together the industry's key players, also aims to improve practices beyond the SAC itself on a lasting basis, considering that by joining forces in a coalition, we can address urgent, systemic challenges that are impossible to change alone. Among the big names in the industry, SOLO Group is the only French player in the promotional garment sector to have joined the SAC since 2015 and to actively contribute to improve practices.
– VIRTUOUS LOGISTICS
Apart from the production of garments we offer, the SOLO Group team is focusing on another area of improvement: the logistics involved in our business. We have implemented very strict rules covering the packaging of our garments, the transport to our warehouses, the delivery to our customers and the energy consumption of our warehouses.
The polybags we use to send our products are fully recyclable. The adhesive tape used to seal boxes and pallets is made of polypropylene, our supplier of picking boxes is Imprim'vert certified and the boxes are made in France from recycled cardboard. Finally, we reuse (and invite our customers to do the same) all boxes made of recycled materials coming from the production sites. Our warehouse in Le Havre is fully equipped with LEDs and a detection system that allows to light the different areas only when necessary. Thanks to these solutions, our 37,000 sq. m. warehouse has reduced its power consumption by 50% since 2017.
En ce qui concerne le transport, nous favorisons l'approvisionnement de nos marchandises par bateaux dont l'empreinte carbone par vêtement est beaucoup plus faible qu'en aérien par exemple. Les containers que nous affrétons sont obligatoirement pleins afin d'optimiser chaque envoi. Nous sélectionnons les transporteurs avec lesquels nous collaborons en fonction de leur bilan RSE. Pour livrer nos clients, nous favorisons dès que c'est possible les envois groupés afin de minimiser les transports dédiés.
As far as transport is concerned, we favour the supply of our goods by sea freight, which has a much lower carbon footprint per garment than air freight, for example. The containers used to ship our products are always full in order to optimise each shipment. We select the carriers we work with according to their CSR report. To deliver our products to customers, we favour grouped shipments whenever possible in order to minimise transport. Finally, we limit the travel of our teams to the production sites, favouring distance relationships. When an employee has to travel to Asia, he or she must optimise the journey by visiting several production sites; express return trips are strictly forbidden.
– REDUCING PAPER CONSUMPTION
For several years, SOLO Group has been intensifying its digital transformation to remain highly responsive and reduce its carbon footprint. We have dematerialised a huge number of documents and equipped our employees so that they limit their paper consumption. In any case, the paper we use is recycled.
But to go further, we work daily to reduce the printing of catalogues and sales tools by working with our retailers to provide them with efficient and responsive tools on our websites, which can replace traditional paper catalogues. We have already halved the number of printed catalogues in 3 years and our objective is to continue along this path.
To achieve this goal, we are developing high-performance, easy-to-use solutions with multiple functions that will increasingly encourage our network to prefer them to traditional catalogues, which are widely used in the promotional product sector. All our publications are printed in France by an IMPRIM'VERT® certified printer that is also PEFC and FSC certified.
– MADE IN FRANCE
At SOLO Group, we strongly believe in the positive impact of local economy and we are convinced that offering made in France garments is an eco-friendly approach.
In 2020, we took the challenge of giving birth to Atelier Textile Français to produce T-shirts, bags and face masks that are 100% made in France. ATF employs and trains employees with a passion for textile. The creation of our clothing workshop gave them the opportunity to rediscover a job they used to love or to put into practice their initial training in a company focused on fashion and promotion.
When it was founded, ATF employed 7 seamstresses whereas today our team is made up of 14 people and our objective is to continue along this path!