The Fashion Transparency Index: an overview

Fashion Revolution have today released a review of 100 of the biggest global fashion brands and retailers, from Topshop and Urban Outfitters to Michael Kors and Prada.

The Fashion Transparency Index, compiled between January and March this year, ranks companies according to how much they reveal to the public about their social, environmental policies, practices and impact.

The results
On average brands scored just 20 per cent, and none scored above 50 per cent. Adidas and Reebok came out on top with 121.5 out of 250 points, closely followed by Marks & Spencer and H&M. Three brands, including luxury fashion brand Dior, scored zero as they disclose no information at all.

That’s not to say these brands are necessarily doing anything wrong (or right) just that they’re not publically accountable for the conditions of workers in their supply chain.

The report reveals that overall, brands are pretty quick to disclose their policies and commitments, for example a Code of Business Ethics or Supplier Code of Conduct, with 98 per cent of companies publishing these in one form or another.

However, less than half of these brands are publishing findings of their factory assessments, and less than a quarter disclose the number of their factories that are undergoing “corrective action”.

Only 30 per cent of brands reveal who their suppliers are, with Gap Inc (who own Gap, Banana Republic and Old Navy) coming out on top of this category as they include more detailed information such as types of products or services and approximate number of workers in each supplier facility.

A promising 34 of the 100 brands have made public commitments to paying living wages to workers but only four brands — H&M, Marks & Spencer, New Look and Puma — are reporting on ‘progress’ in this area.

Why it matters
After Rana Plaza collapsed in 2013, it took several weeks to determine which brands had connections with factories inside the building – and in the end campaigners were literally picking labels out of the rubble to find out.

If a company publishes information about their supply chains it helps NGOs, unions and workers to alert brands to human rights and environmental issues. It also helps consumers make informed choices and apply pressure.

Imagine the improvements that could happen if people knew which factories in Bangladesh were making clothes for their favourite high-street brands. Imagine how quickly that brand would intervene to stop any worker abuses to save their reputation, rather than being able to claim they didn’t know.

That’s why this week, for Fashion Revolution Week, people are taking label selfies and asking #whomademyclothes.

“People have the right to know that their money is not supporting exploitation, human rights abuses and environmental destruction,” says co-founder of Fashion Revolution, Carry Somers.

“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.”

Image: Greek fashion designer Athena Korda ends her collection with the slogan ‘who made my clothes’, April 2015

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