Well, no. It means that it is more transparent. Fashion Revolution defines transparency as the “Public disclosure of credible, comprehensible and comparable data and information about fashion´s supply chains, business practices and the impacts of these practices on workers, communities and the environment”.
What they are measuring in this report is the fact that they share certain type of information. And the information that Fashion Revolution is looking for is related to governance, social & environmental policy and commitments, supply chain traceability, working conditions, consumption, product /material composition & climate, remediation etc…
Actually, in the report, Fashion Revolution mentions the fact that even though the average is rising when it comes to policy sharing, there is a lot missing when it comes to how those policies are being implemented and followed up.
Sarah Ditty, Fashion Revolution Global Policy Director and report author, answers this in a press release. "We believe transparency is the first step in holding [major brands] to account for the impacts of their business practices”. Basically, the transparency index is a way for them to display what is in house, with the aim to fix what the general public will not accept. Serves to hold them accountable. One the category of information measured is called “Know, Show & Fix”. Meaning that if in any of the audits an issue is raised, it is important to know how it ends up being solved.
We have also to take into account that this report was done during the year, even though was just published on the 21st of April, meaning that the coronavirus impact is not part of the score. It will be interesting to see what happens in next year´s report as we are seeing a lot of major brands failing to #payup the items already produced. Many organizations such as Human Rights Watch applaud transparency-specially when brands share their supplier list. This allows workers and advocates to monitor supplier factories and alert about labour-rights issues.
But we must understand that is not a sustainability or ethical index. They report their information and make it public, and that is what is measured. If what is shared is acceptable or not it is up to you as an individual or as a community. That is why it is important that we question everything, and this could be a tool if we would have the assurance that what is disclosed is 100% true. At the end of the day, they are not obliged to be audited on these matters, so it can be a free ride for greenwashing or marketing.
We praise Transparency but it is a first step. If you want to connect it to sustainability and ethics, you need to dig further brand by brand, product y product. Maybe one day with blockchain technology this becomes an easy reality.
Not really. The top of the list shows mostly sportswear and high street brands. The most transparent luxury brand is Gucci with a 48, followed very closely by some other brands of the Kering family - Balenciaga, Ermenegildo Zegna, Bottega Veneta and Saint Laurent with 46 and 47 as score.
We also have some shocking zeroes in the luxury department: with Max Mara and specially Tom Ford, that as Chairman of CFDA was advocating for sustainability. It is sad that even Fashion Nova scored more with a 3.
Not every brand can be part of this report. Actually, to be part of the report you must have a minimum turnover of 400 Million USD per year. Something that for most sustainable fashion brands is but a dream. This year Fashion Revolution tracked 250 brands. 50 more brands than in 2019.
If we are to see how the industry is doing, we see that the transparency index is low- the average score is of only 23- 2 more than the previous year 2019. In 2019 the report had 200 brands. We can take this as a slow improvement on transparency- not necessarily sustainability.
Livia Firth Instagram post made very evident that she is upset with the report and feels that Fashion Revolution has been compromised. "I am sorry but this is totally unacceptable and the reason why @fash_rev has lost it for me. As a movement they are great, they managed to galvanised millions of people around a campaign called #whomademyclothes but guess what? WHO MADE MY CLOTHES is exactly why fast fashion and @hm are like cowboys - hiding behind their “we are so transparent” and enslaving millions of garment workers worldwide. You want to the proof? Check out @cleanclothescampaign as an example and be horrified. And guess what? Brands like @tomford cited in that report for not being transparent... they have never exploited factory workers. This is not about luxury vs fast fashion - this is about transparency being mistaken for some sorts of ethical practice. It’s about slave labour. Sorry this IS a rant - I am so tired of this bullshit. Greenwashing at its best and with the help of what it should be a serious organisation".
Maybe we shouldn’t be measuring transparency but what really we care about: How brands treat the planet and the people on it. Let’s not confuse consumers with shiny words.
+ Words: Araceli Gallego
Speaker, Editor-in-Chief at Dubai Fashion News, and Founder of Goshopia.com: The Home of Slow & Sustainable Fashion. Araceli Gallego is also Remake Ambassador, Slow Fashion World Changemaker and Fashion Revolution collaborator. She is becoming one of the prominent voices on sustainable fashion in the Middle East.