With so many options to choose from when it comes to clothing, fashion brands must work harder than ever to get customers’ hard-earned dollars. While fashion choices were previously made based on brand recognition, style, fit, quality and price, customers are now demanding that the brands they buy from also show that they’re making a concerted effort to be both environmentally and socially responsible. According to this year’s Fashion Transparency Index, Adidas, Reebok and Patagonia topped the list of big-name brands consumers can feel good about supporting.
Published by non-profit organization Fashion Revolution, the Fashion Transparency Index is released annually and measures the top 200 fashion brands in the world, with each brand earning $500 million USD and above. The index looks at whether brands publicly disclose their manufacturer, processing facilities and suppliers of raw materials. Disclosing their chain of supply is important, as Fashion Revolution explains, because it “helps NGOs, unions, local communities and even workers themselves to alert brands of any potential human rights and environmental issues in their supply chains.”
Since releasing their first Fashion Transparency Index in 2016, Fashion Revolution has seen an increase across all three categories, with the number of brands disclosing their first tier manufacturers up from 55 to 70 this year, brands disclosing their processing facilities up from 27 to 38, and brands disclosing their suppliers of raw materials up from 1 to 10.
With a possible scoring of 250 points, brands are assessed on Policy and Commitments (social and environmental policies), Governance (whether human rights and environmental issues being considered when choosing suppliers), Traceability (whether details about suppliers being shared), Know, Show and Fix (can workers report grievances) and Spotlight Issues (if fair wages, female empowerment and sustainable production are being addressed).
Adidas, Reebok and Patagonia all earned a 64 per cent rating, with the three active brands leading the charge of most transparent brands. Esprit and H&M were right behind with 61 per cent, with the five scores marking the first time any brand has crossed the 60 per cent mark, showing a vast improvement in big name fashion houses and their willingness to open their books and reveal their business practices to customers.
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High-end fashion lines including Chanel, Dior and Sandro released their social and environmental information for the first time this year. The average score for all brands included was 21 per cent, and with the highest rating being 64 per cent, there’s still a long way to go in ensuring that brands are following best business practices that are environmentally and socially responsible, including paying fair wages and seeing a gender balance in their employee list.
As Fashion Revolution notes, there are still strides to be made towards making the fashion industry more responsible. By encouraging retailers to be transparent about where their clothes are being made, how they’re being made, and who is making them, it’s much easier for companies and customers to ensure that brands are not violating any human rights laws and are taking all the steps possible to reduce their carbon footprint.
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