Information from VICS regarding its hanger sustainability program

Editor's Note: the following is a submission from the Voluntary Interindustry Commerce Solutions Association (VICS), regarding its hanger sustainability program. For more information, visit the organization's web site at

In 1996 VICS membership took on an initiative that had a significant effect on Retailers and Apparel Vendors costs and on Supply Chain optimization. The initiative was to go from various different a store fixture hanger programs to a GOH program using standardized metal hook hangers.
This change would transform the garment hanging process from a store level procedure, where store employees would apply metal swivel hook hangers to garments just prior to the apparel being displayed on the sales floor, to a GOH (Garment On Hanger) program using standardized metal hook hangers engineered to withstand the stresses experienced when hung apparel is loaded and transported from garment makers' overseas factories through the supply chain to its final destination on the retail sales floor.

For several years discounters like Wal-Mart, Target and Kmart had already been shipping garments on GOH programs so that the apparel arrived at the store floor ready.

VICS' members, apparel Vendors and retailers, recognized that they could follow a similar path and realize the benefits of lower hanger inventories due to hanger standardization and lower store apparel inventories with the elimination of the work in progress delay resulting from in store garment hanging. In addition, retailers would see significant and immediate labor cost savings and apparel Vendors could prepack apparel knowing that many of their retail customers were now using a standardized hanger line.

VIC's Floor Ready Committee members, comprised of retailers, apparel makers and hanger manufacturers, began the arduous process of determining which hanger styles to use, what color the hangers should be, and what performance specifications were required to maintain quality throughout the supply chain which now included garment presentation on the selling floor.

Over a period of several months the hanger styles were selected but hanger color remained undecided with some retailers choosing clear metal hook hangers and other retailers opting for the same hangers in black. Eventually, however, they agreed that the metal hook hangers should be clear.

To date, over 32 U.S. retailers have their apparel pre-hung (GOH Program), shipped, and displayed on the sales floor utilizing VICS standardized hanger styles.

From 1997 through 2006 additional hanger styles have been added to the VICS list of approved hangers, and some approved hangers have been functionally improved.

In 2006/2007, the public's consciousness became galvanized around the issue of the environment, in general, and the negative impact of plastic on the quality of the environment, in particular. From the increased public conscience came the growing market response which was a demand for solutions and the beginning of the drive for change. Word spread around the world of studies that estimated the rate of plastic decomposition in landfills to be hundreds of years.

VIC's research showed that European retail hanger programs were for many years using black hangers because hangers made in black could be recycled and the plastic reused to make new hangers. Unfortunately, the clear hanger plastic used in the U.S. cannot be recycled into new clear hangers and meet VIC's specifications. This meant that each new clear hanger required consuming more natural resources.

In 2007 VICS took on the initiative to research opportunities to reduce the amount of plastic used to make hangers, reduce the use of natural resources required to make plastic for new hangers, and reduce the overall thickness of hangers, in some cases allowing more apparel to be shipped per container.

VICS reviewed many hanger products from several hanger companies, culminating in April 2008 with a meeting of VIC's hanger sub-committee members consisting of retailers and apparel Vendors was held to view hangers that were more sustainable. Hanger companies were invited to share their ideas on how to improve hanger sustainability.

What came out of that meeting and subsequent conference calls was a unanimous agreement that hanger sustainability was important to all VICS members and that they would entertain moving to a more sustainable hanger line. But the question of hanger color was still a major issue.

Hanger Sustainability Consists of:
σ˜ Hangers that can be reused to hang garments several times (suggested 6 to 7 times)
σ˜ The amount of new plastic used to make hangers is the least amount required to satisfy all performance standards
σ˜ When a hanger becomes unusable, it is recycled, and the plastic material is then used to make hangers and other plastic products
σ˜ Hanger reuse and recycling reduces the use of oil and other natural resources
σ˜ Hangers, hanger plastic and metal parts do not end up in landfills

Today, a conservative estimate of clear metal hook hangers used by over 32 U.S. retailers on GOH hanger programs is 2 billion pieces per year

In line with the definition of Hanger Sustainability, one hanger company designed and engineered a new line of metal hook plastic hangers to maximize the reduction of plastic, use a lower cost and lighter weight plastic while still meeting the current performance specifications. VICS recently uploaded onto its web site a spreadsheet.

Based on the highest volume top and bottom hanger, the new hangers in the color black are estimated to use 53,000,000 lbs less plastic and will reduce the cost of hanger plastic by $86,000,000 annually.

VICS membership has the opportunity to again take the initiative by championing innovations in hanger design that would address the growing public concerns about the negative impact of plastic on our environment and the diminishing global supply of natural resources.

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds