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Apparel Sizing Best Practices for Brands and Retailers.  Get the Guide >

Drive Sustainable Change

Grow your brand while reducing its environmental footprint.

 

Calculate your fit-return footprint

If the US Online Apparel Industry used Bold Metrics 53,868 tons of landfill waste would be diverted. That's the equivalent of 344,754,841 shirts not ending up as trash.

 

A simple step to achieve your sustainability goals

an image of people helping one another achieve their sustainability goals

We believe there's a path to sustainable change for the apparel industry, and we're taking action to reduce the adverse effects of the apparel product lifecycle.

Our sustainability philosophy is simple. Using shopper body data to reduce fit-related returns and inform better design is a straightforward way to combat carbon emissions, landfill waste, and material consumption.

We focus on solutions that help brands grow and meet their sustainability goals.

Understand your environmental fit-return footprint.

Unlock a sustainable advantage

We use AI to unlock the power of body data to reduce returns, optimize operational efficiency, and eliminate wasteful production - powering sustainability at scale.

Returned apparel impacts the environment by burning fossil fuels for transportation and returns often end up as landfill due to allocative inefficiencies and profitability concerns.

By eliminating unnecessary production, powering efficient design, and reducing fit-related returns, we help brands scale their sustainability efforts effectively.

Quantify your fit-return footprint.

 

an animated of a women unlocking a sustainable advantage
AN ANIMATED IMAGE OF A MAN SOLVING A RETURNS PROBLEMN

A problem worth solving

The fashion industry is the second most polluting sector after oil and is estimated to be responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions. (1)

  • 63% - of shoppers admit to bracketing, or multi-size purchases (2)
  • 52% - of returns are due to fit (3)
  • 30% - the average online return rate of apparel products (4)
  • 20% - of fabric used to construct a garment ends up as waste (5)

This contributes to a ballooning problem of fit-related returns, costing brands $27 billion, contributing 168,000 tons of landfill waste and 1 million tons of CO2 emissions.

Calculate your fit-return impact.

Reduce Returns. Rethink Design. Reap Rewards.

By utilizing shopper body data, our partners improve conversion, increase AOV, reduce returns, and design efficiently. This creates a win-win solution that helps brands grow their business and meet their sustainability goals.

Bold Metrics' Platform solution helps:

  • Reduce fit-related returns and the costly emissions and landfill waste associated with them.
  • Shoppers find their best size to minimize bracketing or multi-size purchases.
  • Empower data-led design according to actual customer body measurements on a per-garment basis to create better-fitting products and less material waste.

See how we can impact your fit-return footprint.

 

an image of a women thinking about sustainability in fashion

Sustainability - more than a buzzword

At Bold Metrics, we're passionate about solving problems that matter. Sustainability is a value we exemplify in our lives, work, and, most importantly, our actions.

Just take it from our employees:

an image of a women riding a mountain bike

Morgan M.

Product Design

Coming from a background in environmental science and architecture, the root of my design process starts with asking questions:

How does what we create impact the planet, and the people using it?

How do we plan for the side effects in our designs?

This approach helps us drive real change for the environment, our partners, and the people who use our products.

This photo was from mountain biking in Moab, Utah. I feel lucky for the access to some extraordinary places connecting me to the importance of protecting these wild areas.

Jackson D.

Marketing

My personal mission is to connect people outside. I believe interacting with our environment brings us our best experiences, friendships, and learnings.

Working at Bold Metrics allows me to fulfill this mission and draw on my past experience in environmental studies and recreational land development to tell real stories about our benefits for shoppers, brands, and the planet.

Captured this photo while on a 40-day backpacking/canoe trip in Alaska. That trip really emphasized the importance of protecting our natural places... BTW those black marks are mosquitoes :(

an image of a man on a mountain
an image of two men skiing

Morgan L.

Engineering / Co-Founder

Ever since I can remember I've had a passion for nature - to me it's how we connect with something greater than ourselves. Now we are at a pivotal time in history where we all have the chance to make a real impact on what our planet looks like for future generations. While there is so much we can do ourselves, technology, and AI specifically has the chance to enact change like we've never seen before. Our lives are short, we should live with purpose and do things that make the world a better place than it was when we got here.

One of my favorite things to do after staring at a computer screen all day is to walk out my front door and go skiing, I live in Lake Tahoe, surrounded by nature, and it's a great reminder of what a special thing we all have the opportunity to protect. Here's a photo I took during one of my recent skiing adventures with my friend and coworker Joe!

Unlock Your Sustainable Impact

Deepen your understanding of your environmental and economical fit-return footprint.

The size and fit gap creates quantifiable challenges for brands at the environmental and economic levels. Discover how Bold Metrics solutions go beyond size recommendations to impact your brand across the organization.

  • Reduce fit-related returns and the costly emissions and landfill waste associated with them.
  • Shoppers find their best size to minimize bracketing or multi-size purchases.
  • Empower data-led design according to actual customer body measurements on a per-garment basis to create better-fitting products and less material waste.

Consult our experts


Understanding your footprint > hiding from it.

Hiding information when it benefits the public and the environment isn't cool. True to our core value of transparency, we're giving away our calculations to the entire apparel industry. While open-sourcing our proprietary calculations won't give us a competitive edge, it will give us all a step forward in combatting the global climate crisis.

We're sharing how we developed our calculator and welcome our partners to use our research in hopes of benefiting the apparel industry as a whole. If you are planning on referencing our calculations or calculator, please get in touch with us via our 'Contact Us' form.

Please note the development of our calculator has taken over a year with multiple iterations, reviews, and input from a Ph.D.-accredited green chemistry expert consultant associated with one of the top graduate apparel programs. We've aimed to provide a directional calculation that can assist apparel brands and retailers in their sustainability journey. Our calculations are fluid and may have room for improvement. We welcome feedback on our calculations as we strive to become better environmental citizens. Please see the tabs below to further understand our calculator and it's methodology.

 


¹ Total annual online apparel sales

This helps us calculate your estimated footprint. This is your total annual online apparel sales. No footwear, accessories, or other categories should be included.

² Online apparel return rate

This helps us calculate your estimated footprint. This is your online apparel return rate. No footwear, accessories, or other categories should be included.

³ Total CO2 emissions

One way returns impact the environment is through the returns shipment process which due to shipping things back and forth creates unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions in the form of CO2. We measure CO2 in tons and lbs. For reference, using one gallon of gas is equivalent to 20 lbs of CO2 or .01 tons (8)

Total landfill waste

Another way returns impact the environment is through the number of returns ending up in landfill. It's estimated only 54% of packaging is recycled and five billion pounds of returned goods end up in landfills each year (9). We measure landfill waste in tons and lbs. For reference, two T-shirts weigh about one pound or .0005 tons. (10)

Trees planted equivalent

To help contextualize our calculations, we've quantified the carbon offsets associated with planting one tree. A mature tree will absorb more than 48 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen in exchange. (11) More trees planted = more CO2 reduced from the atmosphere.

T-shirts removed equivalent

To help contextualize our calculations, we've quantified the landfill waste associated with the removal of one t-shirt. A premium heavy-weight t-shirt weighs between 6-12oz, we used 8oz as our reference point. So, one shirt out of a landfill is 1/2 a pound, two shirts are one pound.

First, we evaluated over 15 sources to gain a deeper understanding of the returns landscape and environmental costs associated with them. From this, we centered our approach on four key reports to build our calculator. 

1. Optoro's 2022 Impact Report, developed in consultation with Enviromental Capital Group (12). This report provided us with a baseline of Total US Return Statistics:

9,600,000,000 (v1) pounds of returns in landfills
59,524,810,790 (v2) pounds of CO2 Emitted due to returns
$761,000,000,000 (v3) the worth of returned inventory


2. NRF's 2021 Consumer Returns in the Retail Industry Report in consultation with Appriss Retail (13). This report provided us with US online sales statistics:

$1,050,000,000,000 (v4) the worth of total online sales
$218,400,000,000 (v5) the worth of total returned inventory
20.80% (v6) amount of merchandise returned as a % of online sales


3. Retail Dive's 2017 The Right Fit: How AI is Changing eCommerce Apparel Returns Report in conjunction with Rakuten (14). This report provided us with US statistics regarding fit-related returns in the apparel industry.

52.00% (v7) of returns from the apparel industry are due to fit

4. Statista's 2021 Apparel, footwear, and accessories sales as a percentage of total retail e-commerce sales in the United States from 2017 to 2027 Report (15). This report provided us with statistics regarding e-commerce apparel sales.

23.50% (v8) of all 2021 online sales are apparel

After we determined these to be reasonable (some reports cited higher/potentially inflated values) and accurate (peer-reviewed and/or done in conjunction with environmental/eCommerce/apparel specialists) we began to build our baseline statistics:

(v4) * (v8) = $246,750,000,000 (v9) the worth of total apparel sales
(v9) * (v6) = $51,324,000,000 (v10) the worth of total online apparel returned inventory
(v10) * (v7) = $26,688,480,000 (v11) the worth of total online apparel fit-related returned inventory

Then we determined a monetary "value" of $1 to correlate with landfill waste and CO2 emissions.

(v1) / (v3) = 0.01261498029 (v12) lbs of landfill waste equal to $1 of returned inventory
(v2) / (v3) = 0.07819710907 (v13) lbs of CO2 emissions equal to $1 of returned inventory

Then we determined the estimated landfill and carbon emission waste totals of online apparel fit-related returns

(v12) * (v11) = 336,674,649 (v14) lbs of landfill waste due to online apparel fit-related returns
(v13) * (v11) = 2,086,961,981 (v15) lbs of CO2 emissions due to online apparel fit-related returns

And, since we reference the use of "tons" in our findings, we use a simple conversion to calculate weight 2000lbs (v16) = 1 ton

(v14) / (v16) = 168,337 (v16) tons of landfill waste due to online apparel fit-related returns
(v15) / (v16) = 1,043,481 (v17) tons of CO2 emissions due to online apparel fit-related returns

Then we determined our impact on the industry using our average fit-return reduction rate range from 5% to 32% (v18). Note this range is dependent on the inputs from the user, the reduction rate increases proportionately to the apparel return rate (²) input by the user. Those proportions are as follows:

1-10% apparel return rate = 5% fit-return reduction rate improvement
10-15% apparel return rate = 10% fit-return reduction rate improvement
15-20% apparel return rate = 15% fit-return reduction rate improvement
20 - 25% apparel return rate = 20% fit-return reduction rate improvement
25% - 30% apparel return rate = 25% fit-return reduction rate improvement
30% and above apparel return rate = 32% fit-return reduction rate improvement

(v16) * (v18) = 53,868 (v19) tons of landfill waste due to online apparel fit-related returns removed if the entire online apparel industry used Bold Metrics
(v17) * (v18) = 333,914 (v20) tons of CO2 emissions due to online apparel fit-related returns removed if the entire online apparel industry used Bold Metrics
(v11) * (v18) = $8,540,313,600 (v21) in apparel inventory savings if the entire online apparel industry used Bold Metrics

Then to better grasp our impact, we translated the landfill waste and carbon emissions to t-shirts removed and trees planted equivalents. As noted above, one tee shirt is approximately .5 lbs or 0.00015625 tons (v22). One tree reduces the amount of carbon in the atmosphere by 48 lbs or 0.024 tons (v23). 

(v19) / (v22) = 344,754,841 (v24) shirts removed from landfills if the entire online apparel industry used Bold Metrics
(v20) / (v23) = 13,913,080 (v25) trees planted equivalent if the entire online apparel industry used Bold Metrics

After these calculations, we built our calculator, shown above which uses the same baselines to calculate CO2 emissions and landfill waste for brands. These calculations are described below:

Brand Inputs: total annual online apparel sales = a | total online apparel return rate = b

From these inputs, we determine the "current state" or the amount of returned inventory due to fit = c = ((a*b) * v7)

Then total CO2 emissions = d = c * v13 

Then total landfill waste = e = c * v12 

Next (in the calculation, the calculator will show improvement before the future state) is the "future state" where we estimate the impact of Bold Metrics on the brand using the calculator:

Total CO2 emissions with Bold Metrics = f = d * v18

Total Landfill waste with Bold Metrics = g = e * v18

Last (in the calculation, the calculator will show improvement before the future state) is the "improvement" where we estimate the difference between the brand's current state - future state.

Decrease in Total CO2 emissions = h = d - f

Then Trees planted equivalent = i = h / v23 

Then Decrease in Total landfill waste = j = e - g

Then T-shirts removed equivalent = g / v22

  • Fit-Related Returns - Across our clients, our return rate reduction varies. We used 5%-32% as our average range, but do note that it may sometimes be larger, and sometimes smaller.
  • Sources - Our calculations are reliant on the sources we've used. We assume the same assumptions our sources have made in their determinations to formulate our own.
  • Timeliness - We strove to include the most timely and relevant sources in the development of the calculator. With the passage of time, some statistics may change. We've outlined the dates associated with our sources, more information can be found in our references section below.
  • Waste - We understand there may be additional waste components involved in the returns process. This calculator is not designed to be a full encapsulation, merely a direction. 

(1) https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/01/fashion-industry-carbon-unsustainable-environment-pollution/


(2) https://www.businessinsider.com/bracketing-online-shopping-downsides-explained-2021-11


(3) https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/us/Documents/process-and-operations/us-bringing-it-back.pdf


(4) https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/10/growing-online-sales-means-more-returns-and-trash-for-landfills.html


(5) https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/can-fabric-waste-become-fashions-resource


(6) https://www.retailbrew.com/stories/2022/12/12/returns-not-only-pose-financial-costs-but-also-environmental-ones


(7) https://www.shopify.com/enterprise/ecommerce-returns


(8) https://climatekids.nasa.gov/review/carbon/gasoline.html


(9) https://www.fastcompany.com/90701492/how-businesses-can-fight-the-environmental-menace-of-free-returns


(10) https://luckywholesale.net/blogs/news/how-much-does-a-shirt-weigh

(11) https://www.eea.europa.eu/articles/forests-health-and-climate-change/key-facts/trees-help-tackle-climate-change 

(12) https://4771362.fs1.hubspotusercontent-na1.net/hubfs/4771362/2022%20Impact%20Report/Optoro_2022%20Impact%20Report.pdf

 

(13) https://cdn.nrf.com/sites/default/files/2022-01/Customer%20Returns%20in%20the%20Retail%20Industry%202021.pdf

 

(14) https://cdn.thomasnet.com/ccp/30844890/271315.pdf


(15) https://www.statista.com/forecasts/281594/share-of-apparel-and-accessories-sales-in-total-us-e-retail-sales

Special thanks to Allbirds, Trove, and Eileen Fisher. These brands and their sustainability pages, calculations, and approaches served as inspirations in the development of our calculator.

 

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