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Every year Fashion Revolution publishes the Fashion Transparency Index revealing some of the most important data of the fashion world. 2021’s headline is that transparency in the fashion supply chain is still “too slow” in several crucial areas like living wages, Covid – 19 response, purchasing practices, addressing the climate crisis and supply chain traceability. The lack of transparency perpetuates an exclusive system, where brands can do as they please without being held accountable.
In their words, the Fashion Transparency Index is an annual review of 250 of the world’s largest fashion brands and retailers ranked according to their level of public disclosure on human right and environmental policies, practices and impacts in their own operations and in their supply chains. They focus on the most profitable brands due to their negative impact on workers and the environment. Therefore, they have the greatest responsibility to change. These are selected taking into account that their annual turnover is over USD $400 million and that they represent a spread of market segments such as: street, luxury, sportswear, accessories, footwear and denim from across Europe, North and South America, Asia and Africa.
The index was created to shine a light on what big retailers are doing so that the information can be used by individuals, activists, experts, worker representatives, environmental groups, policymakers, investors and even brands themselves to hold them accountable and work towards change. The Fashion Transparency Index reviews brands’ public expose on human rights and environmental issues across 239 indicators in 5 key areas.
This section aims to analyse whether bands are publishing their roadmap from improving social and environmental impacts across the value chain, and to check to see if their sustainability report was audited by an independent third party. “In light of the climate crisis, major brands increasingly publish environmental targets, yet their targets on human right issues lag behind. This is where major brands run the risk of greenwashing – promoting their ambitions without evidencing the results and outcomes”, states the report.
Focusing on who in the company is responsible for social and environmental impacts. Covid - 19 was taken into account this year. The index reveals that the cancellation of orders by major brands and retailers amid the Covid – 19 pandemic placed an immense financial burden on suppliers and workers. Despite that, just 18% of brands disclose data about their order cancellations this past year.
The section examines to what extent brands reveal their supply chain from manufacturing to raw material. They found that 27% of major brands now disclose some of their processing facilities and only 11% publish some of the raw material suppliers. Even if both figures increased compared to last year, there is still room to grow.
Looking at what major brands and retailers communicate about their human rights and environmental due diligence processes, they found out that 99% of brands do not disclose how many audits include a trade union representative.
Gender and racial equality, sustainable sourcing and material, overconsumption and chemicals are some of the issues taken into account this year. Among the key findings: major brands and retailers must go beyond just saying that racism is a top priority and evidence this by addressing racial end ethnic inequality in their operations and supply chains. Moreover, too few brands and retailers disclose crucial environmental data, despite the urgent climate crisis.
Anyone should be able to find out who, how when and where their clothes were made. Transparency is just the first step towards making change in the fashion industry. “Awareness is key. In the absence of information, none of us know what is happening and what could be jeopardizing our health, or water supply and our planet.” – Erin Brockovich.