At a time when companies are being scrutinized more closely than ever — and being held accountable — for their social and environmental policies and practices, transparency is everything. But a number of major global fashion and footwear brands are falling far short, while others are leading by example.
According to the newly released 2019 Fashion Transparency Index — which is produced by the nonprofit campaign group Fashion Revolution and rates 200 of the world’s top brands with annual revenues of more than $500 million — Adidas, Reebok and Patagonia top the list, each scoring 64% out of a possible 250 points. Esprit and H&M followed on their heels, nabbing 62% and 61%, respectively.
In an encouraging sign that the industry is taking tangible steps to be more transparent about their supply chains, this marks the first time since the index’s 2016 inception that brands have scored higher than 60%. These brands are highlighted in the report for their willingness to publicly disclose a wide range of human rights and environmental policies, commitments and impacts, as well as key information about governance, supply chain traceability, supplier assessment and remediation.
Brands demonstrating the biggest improvement over last year’s survey include Dior (22%), Nike (21%), New Balance (18%) and Marc Jacobs (17%). Ten brands, among them Longchamp and Max Mara, disclose very little information (less than 2%), while five brands disclose nothing at all: Jessica Simpson, Eli Tahari, Tom Ford, Mexx and Chinese menswear brand Youngor.
“Despite some progress over the past six years, the fashion industry still operates in an opaque manner, and the lack of information about where are clothes and accessories are made and who made them is a huge barrier to change,” said Carry Somers, founder and global operations director for Fashion Revolution. “Human rights abuses, gender inequality and environmental degradation remain rife, and we know that exploitation thrives in hidden places. This is why Fashion Revolution urges all brands and retailers to pursue full supply chain transparency.”
But Somers noted that a sea change is taking place, as a growing number of enlightened consumers take up the cause and demand that brands release more information about the products they sell. For instance, a 2018 Fashion Revolution survey of European consumers found that 80% believe fashion brands should disclose their manufacturers.
Last year, more than 3.25 million people joined Fashion Revolution’s campaign, participating in the organization’s various grassroots events, posting on social media, viewing videos and downloading resources from its website. More than 173,000 posts using hashtags such as #whomademyclothes generated 720 million impressions during April 2018 alone, an increase of 35% over the previous year.
“Consumers are wading in and demanding to know the truth behind their clothes, and we have more and more online transparency tools at our disposal to hold brands and retailers to account,” Somers said. “We love fashion. We love beautiful clothes and shoes. But there is no beauty without truth, and there is no truth without transparency.”
Watch FN’s video below with cover star and Toms founder Blake Mycoskie.
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