It’s been a year since The Public Eye Awards named Gap the worst corporation of 2013 for its “steadfast [refusal] to contribute to effective reforms in the textile industry,” but you can bet the apparel retailer isn’t sitting around licking its wounds. In a move that appears calculated to refute the universal drubbing, Gap has announced a first-of-its-kind partnership with Tau Investment Management, a New York-based asset management firm that aspires to use capitalist solutions to address “capitalism’s worst failures,” particularly in the global garment industry. Backed by high-powered investors like Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang and the Soros family, Tau says it plans to raise $1 billion in funds, out of which it’ll invest between $20 million to $50 million to promote more sustainable, efficient, and improved garment factories and mills in emerging markets such as Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, China, and Turkey.
FIRE WITH FIRE
While a press release on Wednesday eluded to a system of preferred suppliers referred by Gap and vetted by Tau for its portfolio, and vice versa, the specifics of the partnership remain hazy. Still, Oliver Niedermaier, Tau’s CEO, says he looks forward to a “fruitful and ongoing” relationship with Gap. “We are proud to begin a working relationship with Gap Inc. that enhances our shared values of worker rights and environmental standards,” he says in a statement.
Gap, for its part, says collaborating with Tau will “further accelerate positive change” within its supply chain. “We invest in initiatives that will be transformative for our industry, our business and the people our business touches,” says Sonia Syngal, the company’s vice president of global supply chains. “Our legacy of commitment to sustainability, doing business responsibly, and improving conditions for factory workers is intrinsically part of that transformation.”