Fashion transparency and sustainability has become the biggest challenges for the fashion industry. There are many levels to this issue including the social, environmental and economical traceability.
The major organisation protesting for transparency in the fashion industry is Fashion Revolution. Fashion Revolution’s most notable protest is through creating the social media hashtag ‘#whomademyclothes’, which allows consumers to ask fashion brands about the supply chain details of the products they own.This non-profit has developed the criteria for assessing brand and retailer transparency. The Fashion Transparency Index (FTI) measures the following key areas:
- Policy and Commitments
- Know, Show and Fix
- Spotlight Issues
Out of the 200 brands that Fashion Revolution has audited, there was an average score of 53 out of a possible 250 points. These results highlight the lack of transparency within the complex supply chain of a fashion company on a global scale.
What are the issues that the FTI tackles?
- Fair Trade
- Living Wages
- Gender Equality
- Business Accountability
- Sustainable livelihoods
- Good Working Conditions
- Environmental Sustainability
Source: Fashion Revolution
The environmental impact encompasses the lifecycle of a product, from the raw materials used in the manufacturing process to the disposal of the product. This takes into account the energy usage, water usage and air pollution involved in the lifecycle.
The social impact considers the effects on the employees of the brand and throughout the supply chain regarding wages, well-being and working conditions. Also, the social impacts extend to the effects of the manufacturing processes on the well-being of those connected to it. For example, the effect on the dyeing process of a pair of jeans on the local water systems and people in that region.
The economic impact overlaps in terms of the living wages criteria. Meanwhile, some brands challenge the traditional mark-up price that brands and retailers enforce on products. For example, Everlane counteracts the traditional retail pricing system by showing the cost of the materials, hardware, labour, duties and transport with a lower markup.
What details do brands need to include to score well on the FTI criteria?
- Details of manufacturers and suppliers including those related to raw materials
- Publish Company’s Sustainability teams contact details to enable the consumer to brand transparency
- Disclose steps the company is making to build sustainable business relationships with suppliers and manufacturers
- Environmental Impact Footprint
- Answer customers call to action on tracing their products
Fashion Revolution doesn’t intend to simply call out fashion brands for their lack of transparency, but to support them in becoming more transparent and sustainable in their practices.
What is holding back the fashion industry?
- The biggest issues for retailers and brands to trace their transparency is the supply chain
- The supply chain is unable to trace the source of raw materials
- The cost of implementing a tracing system
- The competitive strategy of keeping their suppliers and manufacturers secret