Sitrep: The Lack Of Transparency In The Fast Fashion Clothing Sector

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Sitrep: The Lack of Transparency in the fast fashion clothing sector!

Recent data breaches by several online fashion companies and others have left consumers wondering how to share information with brands and retailers. Brands are aware of this growing consumer interest, and many are jumping on the transparency and sustainability bandwagon by sharing more information with their audiences. Fashion Revolution's Fashion Transparency Index ranked the 250 most prominent fashion brands and retailers by how much they reveal about their social and environmental policies, practices and impacts last year. The scorecard based on a 250-point scale evaluates companies on the disclosure of social and environmental policies, information on the responsibilities these policies govern their suppliers business and whether they provide information about the impact of their sustainability initiatives.

According to the 2017 Fashion Transparency Index of the Fashion Revolution, which measures brand transparency in supply chain reporting, the average score was 18, with Adidas and Reebok scoring the highest with 49. The Fashion Transparency Index 2019 (FTI), published 14 years after the first company's factory list, showed that only 35 per cent of the 200 surveyed brands have their Tier 1 factory list.

The annual report of Campaign group Fashion Revolutions Transparency Indexes 2020 shows that 40% of brands have published a list of their first manufacturers with whom they have direct business relationships in the final stages of production such as cutting, sewing, assembly and packaging, but only 35% in 2019 and only 7% published information about their raw material suppliers. Fashion supply chains are complex, and according to a report by Fashion Revolution and Ethical Consumer, many brands do not own the factories where their clothes are produced and may not be aware of the conditions in those factories.

H & M, which describes itself as the most transparent brand globally, is transparent about its supply chain in its Transparent World Index; H&M is number one, making it clear that transparency has no direct connection with an environmentally friendly or ethical brand. The brand is highlighted as transparent, but the authors warn that its suppliers and factories remain unsafe.

In addition, it turns out that being a transparent brand is a good business. Fashion companies have to put up with consumers' mistrust, who expect full transparency throughout the value chain. In response, several brands are moving towards radical transparency in manufacturing in the hope of regaining the trust of disappointed customers.

Radical transparency in manufacturing includes information about the origin of the products and the environmental impact of manufacturing. It also means that organisations like EMEs will share more information with you and be more transparent about how quickly fashion labels work so that you, as consumers, can make an informed purchase decision.

As fashion progress, we hope brands will be obliged to reveal more information about their supply chains by recognising that the people who manufacture their clothing work hard and improve employment rights and practices. The Fast Fashion Rising campaign and Fashion Revolution Week have encouraged millions of people to ask themselves which brands make my clothes more transparent in the fashion supply chain. There is no easy answer to the dichotomy between good and bad brands, but urging citizens to put pressure on brands to publish more on social media and writes to policymakers to urge them to implement rules for the impact and transparency of the supply chain.

Of course, some brands are making progress in improving disclosure and providing more information. However, the lack of transparency in the supply chain remains problematic, making it more challenging to hold fashion companies responsible for the conditions under which their clothes are manufactured. It is becoming increasingly apparent that many brands cannot guarantee their products will not be involved in allegations of forced labour, which on many levels is a considerable challenge, forcing companies to reorganise their supply chains and forcing countries such as the US to ban imports from specific regions.

In 2013, H&M Group became the first global fashion retailer to launch a roadmap to improve supplier disclosure and data. The Coalition to Improve Transparency in the Textile and Footwear Supply Chain has reached out to more than 70 companies that own brands or label products, urging them to align their disclosure practices in the supply chain with transparency pledges and standards to advance industry best practices.

There is an increasing demand to ensure supplier lists are aligned with open data standards in the clothing sector. We also call on the regulators to create equal playing fields and harmonised legislation, such as public disclosure, to ensure that all clothing brands are committed to the same level of transparency.

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