ImagesMagUK_August_2021 AUGUST 2021 images 25 New report cites ‘lack of progress’ on transparency in fashion supply chain P rogress on transparency about ethical practices in the garment supply chain is still too slow, according to the latest Fashion Transparency Index. The annual report, analysing 250 of the world’s largest fashion brands and retailers, champions companies with the best records of transparency, such as supplier Gildan. It is published by global activism group Fashion Revolution, which runs campaigns such as #WhoMadeYourClothes. It identified areas of slow progress across the industry such as living wage and carbon emissions, as well as delayed payments to suppliers since the Covid-19 pandemic. It flagged up how fashion brands benefited from positive PR supporting social justice, but fell short when disclosing racial and ethnic data. It also highlighted how major brands disclosed little information about their efforts to address overproduction, plastic use, and waste despite the climate crisis. Advances and accountability Although advances are being made in levels of transparency, the report called for better legislation to hold companies to account for their impacts on people and the planet. Report author Sarah Ditty, Fashion Revolution’s global policy director, noted that the industry has backslid on many human rights and environmental issues after being hit by the pandemic. “This year’s Fashion Transparency Index shows encouraging signs that some progress is being made on transparency, but there is a lot more that big brands need to be doing in this area. “The world’s largest brands and retailers disclose very little about their efforts to address important topics such as poor purchasing practices, living wages, racial and gender equality, overproduction and waste, water use and carbon emissions in the supply chain.” In the index, Italian brand OVS scored highest this year with 78%, followed by H&M at 68%, Timberland and The North Face at 66%, C&A and Vans at 65%, and Gildan at 63%. Gildan scored particularly well for traceability – one of only four brands to score over 90% in that section. This means it published detailed factory lists among its first-tier manufacturers as well as some of its processing materials and raw materials suppliers further down the chain. Other brands listed include Helly Hansen, which scored well on traceability, and Fruit of the Loom, which scored best on the human rights and environmental policies and procedures that it publishes. Among key findings, the report revealed that 99% did not disclose the number of workers in their supply chain receiving a living wage, and 96% did not publish a roadmap on how they planned to achieve a living wage for all workers in their supply chain. Although 62% published the carbon footprint in their own facilities, only 26% disclosed this information at processing and manufacturing level and only 17% did so at raw material level. However, 27% of major brands disclosed some of their processing facilities, such as spinning mills, dye-houses and laundries – up from 24% last year. Some brands delayed payments to their suppliers, and Fashion Revolution’s research found that fewer than 10% published a policy to pay suppliers within 60 days, meaning clothes were often worn by consumers before brands had paid the factories that made them. This year’s index included new indicators on whether brands published their actions on the “promotion of racial equality”. Only 12% published relevant information. Environmental data The report highlighted that brands were not disclosing enough environmental data. It found 32% had permanent clothing take-back schemes, but only 22% disclosed what happened to the clothes – typically some were resold overseas rather than recycled. While 36% had published their progress towards reducing use of virgin plastics for packaging, only 18% had done so for textiles deriving from virgin fossil fuels, which consumers are less likely to recognise as plastic. Visit the Images website for a more in- depth analysis of the report. Fashion Revolution’s Transparency Index 2021 champions companies with the best records of transparency, but points to slow progress on issues such as purchasing practices, living wages, carbon emmissions, overproduction and disclosure of racial and ethnic data INDUSTRY ISSUES Gildan scored particularly well for traceability – one of only four brands to score over 90% in that section Fruit of the Loom scored best on the human rights and environmental policies and procedures it publishes [Photo credit: ASIE]