We believe transparency is the first
step to transform the industry.
And it starts with one simple question:
Who made my clothes?
We believe this simple question gets people thinking differently about what they wear. We need to know that our questions, our voices, and our shopping habits can have the power to help change things for the better. With more citizens encouraging brands to answer ‘who made my clothes?, we believe Fashion Revolution has the power to push the industry to become more transparent.
THE SITUATION NOW:
We don’t know enough about the impact
our clothing has on people and planet
While we are seeing companies share their policies and commitments on human rights and the environment, there is still much crucial information about the practices of the fashion industry that remains concealed — particularly when it comes to impacts on the lives of workers in the supply chain and on the environment.
The Fashion Transparency Index 2018 reviews and ranks 150 of the biggest global fashion and apparel brands and retailers according to how much information they disclose about their suppliers, supply chain policies and practices, and social and environmental impact.
We assessed brands and retailers across five key areas:
The results aren’t that surprising: the average score for all 150 brands and retailers is 21% out of 250 possible points, proving that there is still a lot of work to be done.
However, we are seeing brands and retailers making moves towards greater transparency. Out of the 98 brands and retailers we reviewed in 2017, we have seen a 5% average increase in their level of transparency in 2018.
The good news is that 37% of the 150 brands in the Fashion Transparency Index 2018 are publishing supplier lists — at least at the first tier where clothes are typically cut, sewn and assembled. This is an increase from last year in which 32% of the 100 fashion brands we reviewed were publishing a supplier list and in 2016 just five out of 40 companies.
In total over 150 major fashion brands and retailers are publishing a supplier list. Find out who is publishing here. (Current as of March 2018)
This year 18% out of the 150 brands and retailers are also publishing their processing facilities where clothes are dyed, printed, laundered and otherwise finished at an earlier stage of production. This is an increase from last year in which 14% of the 100 brands we reviewed were publishing this information.
This year, one brand is now publishing its raw material suppliers. Roughly 90% of which is ASOS’ fibres are supplied by four named suppliers. No other brand or retailer publishes this information, so there is no way of knowing where their cotton, wool or other fibres come from or who produces them. There are also lots of middlemen involved in the journey of our clothes. Wholesalers, agents and distributors are important and profitable roles in the clothing industry that the public doesn’t really see.
There is still so much we don’t know about the people who make our clothes, from farm to retail.
WE WE NEED TRANSPARENCY
Lack of transparency costs lives. It is impossible for companies to make sure human rights are respected, working conditions are adequate and the environment is safeguarded without knowing where their products are made. That’s why transparency is essential.
Transparency requires that companies know who makes their clothes – from who stitched them right through to who dyed the fabric and who farmed the cotton — and under what conditions. Crucially, it requires brands to share this information publicly.
If we know the facilities where our clothes are being made, if we have access to information about the factories, mills and farms where brands are sourcing then the public can help hold the industry to account for bad practices and encourage good practices.
This is what Fashion Revolution is asking for.
TRANSPARENCY IS NOT THE END GAME
Transparency alone is not enough to fix the industry’s problems, but it is a necessary first step towards wider systemic change. Transparency shines a light on issues often kept in the dark.
Ultimately, we each need to act upon the wealth of information that is being disclosed in order to hold brands and retailers, governments and suppliers to account for human rights, working conditions and environmental impact.
Fashion Revolution believes that the whole fashion industry needs a radical paradigm shift and that the way that we produce, sell, consume and dispose of clothes needs to be holistically transformed. Transparency helps to reveal the structures of fashion industry so we can better understand how to change this system in a fundamental, long-lasting and positive way.
Read our Manifesto for a Fashion Revolution.
Here are some ways that companies can demonstrate their commitment to transparency:
- Answer your customers’ #whomademyclothes questions with specific information, not just your policies.
- Share photos and personal stories of workers in your supply chain using the hashtag #imadeyourclothes
- Publish direct contact details for your Corporate Social Responsibility or Sustainability department on your website should anyone want to find out more about your products and practices.
- Publish your suppliers publicly – in a searchable, downloadable format.
- Publish even more details about your suppliers, including the results of your supplier assessments. Make this information easy-to-understand.
- Publish more information about the way you are managing and tracking progress on social and environmental issues.
- Publish more information about the real-world effects of your supply chain practices and sustainability efforts.
- Make one product completely transparent. Companies could do this through tools like Provenance or traceable QR codes.
- Make at least one whole supply chain transparent. Companies could do this through tools like Sourcemapor Cotton Connect.
- Offer your customers both product and price transparency, like the pioneering brand Honest by.
TRANSPARENCY IS A PROCESS
We recognise that being transparent is difficult. As a business, you might fear transparency because you don’t want it to jeopardise your competitiveness, or because you might not be able to answer workers or suppliers if questions are asked, or because it might uncover issues you don’t know how to resolve. We know it can be complicated.
But we live in an era when personal and corporate secrets can be unravelled with a few lines of code or clicks of the mouse, and so today, it is only a matter of time before the public discovers the facts.
There is no excuse anymore. As a company, your greatest fear should be that more tragedies like Rana Plaza will happen again, and you will be complicit. Fashion Revolution is here to help companies see through these fears. We are here to show that knowing who makes your clothes is a first important step towards ensuring these kinds of tragedies are no longer possible.
Not only is transparency about understanding and reducing any risk to your company reputation but it can also be good for business. Knowing who makes your clothes and where, being in better touch with your supply chain, means you can understand it more clearly and make more informed business decisions.
EVERYONE KEEPING COMPANIES ACCOUNTABLE TOGETHER
We believe that greater transparency will lead to more accountability and eventually, this will lead to a change in the way business is done.
Fashion Revolution is here to encourage the companies who are making real efforts to be more transparent about who makes their clothes. It is up to all of us to make sure companies are doing what they say they are.
Ultimately, everybody needs to play a part in holding the industry to account for its business practices and impacts — the public, NGOs, certification bodies, industry associations, governments, trade unions, producers, workers, suppliers, communities and even brands themselves.
Find out more about how you can use your voice to push for greater transparency.
Source: Fashion Revolution