- Danielle Wightman-Stone |
Fashion Revolution has launched its 2017 Fashion Transparency Index, ranking 100 of the biggest fashion companies on their social and environmental policies, practices and impacts, and has revealed that even top-performing brands are lagging in supply chain transparency.
The 100 brands were selected on three factors, they all have annual turnovers over 1.2 billion dollars, they all voluntarily agreed to be included after last year’s edition, and they represent a cross-section of the market segments including high street, luxury, sportswear, accessories, footwear and denim from across Europe, North America, South America and Asia.
Brands were awarded points based on their level of transparency across five categories, including: policy and commitments, governance, traceability, supplier assessment and remediation and spotlight issues which looks at living wages, collective bargaining and business model innovation.
This year’s index shows that the industry has a long way to go towards being transparent, as no brands, not even the top-performing ones were above 50 percent on the transparency scale. Only 8 brands scored higher than 40 percent including Adidas, Reebok, Marks and Spencer, H&M, Puma, Banana Republic, Gap and Old Navy.
Carry Somers, co-Founder of Fashion Revolution, said: “People have the right to know that their money is not supporting exploitation, human rights abuses and environmental destruction. There is no way to hold companies and governments to account if we can’t see what is truly happening behind the scenes. This is why transparency is so essential.”
“Through publishing this research, we hope brands will be pushed in a more positive direction towards a fundamental shift in the way the system works, beginning with being more transparent.”
On average, brands roughly achieved scores of 20 percent, while three brands, Dior, Heilan Home and s.Oliver scored 0 because they disclose nothing at all, and a further nine scored 4 percent or less.
Adidas and Reebok, both sportswear brands which have introduced sustainable trainers this year, achieved the highest score of 49 percent, followed by Marks and Spencer and H&M both with 48 percent.
Out of the premium and luxury brands reviewed for the report, nine scored between 21-30 percent, which was higher than the average. The remaining 10 scored 15 percent or less.
Adidas and Reebok tops Fashion Transparency Index
The Index also noted that 32 brands are now publishing supplier lists, up from last year’s five, which now includes Asos, Benetton, C&A, Esprit, Gap, Marks and Spencer, Uniqlo and VF Corporation brands since April 2016. 10 of these brands included both the factories where their garments are cut, sewn and trimmed, as well as where garments are printed, dyed, finished or otherwise processed in an earlier stage of production, known as tier 2. Adidas, Reebok, Gap, Banana Republic, Old Navy, H&M, Hermès, Levi Strauss, Puma, and Target are disclosing suppliers beyond tier 1, while Bershka, Massimo Dutti, Pull and Bear, and Zara publish a list of their wet processing facilities but not a list of their manufacturers.
However, no brand is publishing its raw material suppliers, so there is no way of knowing where their cotton, wool, leather or other fibres come from or who produce them. Banana Republic, Gap and Old Navy scored highest on traceability with 44 percent because their supplier list includes detailed information such as types of products or services and approximate number of workers in each supplier facility.
When it came to information regarding living wages and collective bargaining only H&M, Marks and Spencer, New Look and Puma are disclosing the progress towards achieving living wages for workers in the supply chain. H&M and Marks and Spencer also publish a policy to pay suppliers on time, while only five brands publish information about how their purchasing practices enable the payment of living wages, such as long-term purchase commitments with their suppliers or ensuring that costs paid to suppliers are enough to cover living wages. The index also notes that 34 brands have made public commitments towards paying living wages to workers in the supply chain, but only the top four are reporting any progress against this commitment.
Dr. Mark Anner, director of the Center for Global Workers’ Rights at Penn State University, added: “Fashion Revolution once again has provided an important contribution to efforts to address sweatshop practices with its Fashion Transparency Index. The Index is an eloquent reminder of how much work remains to be done in the industry. Far too many workers still face unacceptable conditions of work in apparel supply chains, including forced and excessive overtime, unsafe buildings, and subpar wages that do not cover basic living expenses.
“The time has come for brands and retailers to make their entire supply chains transparent. The time has also come to establish sourcing practices that are conducive to the human development and empowerment of the workers who work so hard every day to make the clothes we wear.”
Fashion Revolution notes that even though more brands are beginning to publish more about their social and environmental efforts, there is still much crucial information about the practices of the fashion industry that remains concealed, particularly when it comes to brands’ tangible impact on the lives of workers in the supply chain and on the environment. It also adds that the information is hard to find, calling the research process to create the index an “arduous process” and this should be simplified to ensure that consumers can do their own research to make information decisions on the brands they wear.
But it concludes with saying: “What’s most needed is for governments to legally require that brands are disclosing supplier lists and social and environmental information using a common framework. Without this, brands will continue to willingly disclose only selected information and in whatever format they determine best.”
Images: Fashion Revolution Facebook