Sportswear giants adidas and Reebok have once again topped Fashion Revolution’s Fashion Transparency Index, which this year also showed an improvement in transparency across the industry.
The index reviews and tracks 150 fashion brands globally and benchmarks their performance on five key issues: policy and commitments, governance, traceability, know how and fix, and spotlight issues.
Closely following adidas and Reebok on the list are Puma, H&M, Esprit, Banana Republic, Gap, Old Navy, C&A and Marks & Spencer who all score in the 51-60% range out of a possible 250 points.
Etailer ASOS comes in just outside the top 10, having significantly increased its level of disclosure since last year, followed by Levi Strauss and then The North Face, Timberland, Vans, Wrangler (all owned by VF Corp.), G-Star, Tchibo and Bershka, Massimo Dutti, Pull & Bear, Stradivarius and Zara (all owned by Inditex), scoring in the 41-50% range.
The index also showed a growing move towards transparency from fashion brands (see graph above). In 2017 it reviewed 100 brands, and in 2018 the number was increased to 150. The original brands which were reviewed in 2017 and again in 2018 show a 5% overall improvement in transparency levels across each section of the methodology.
The North Face, Timberland and Wrangler all increased their level of disclosure by 22% overall. Many more brands and retailers published a list of where their clothes are cut, sewn and completed, up from 12.5% two years ago to 37% in 2018 which, Fashion Revolution says, represents the most significant and positive increase in transparency. More brands and retailers also published a list of their processing facilities, 18% in 2018 versus 14% last year.
Historically luxury brands have not featured highly in the list since many choose not to reveal manufacturing information for commercial purposes, however the index has noted a positive shift towards transparency in this sector too.
Hugo Boss, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Gucci, Bottega Veneta, YSL and Burberry scored in the 31-40% range, with Hugo Boss increasing its score by 11%, Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger increasing their score by 9%. Gucci, Bottega Veneta and YSL increased their score by 8% and Burberry increasing its score by 7% this year. Hugo Boss, Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger published a list of their Tier 1 suppliers, whilst Hermès discloses its tier 1 suppliers as well as fabric suppliers and processing facilities.
However there was less positive news on brands publishing time-bound goals on improving environmental impacts and human rights with only 55% of companies publishing the former and 37% publishing the latter.
More brands and retailers (12% in 2018; 7% in 2017) — but still very few — disclosed how company employees’ incentives are tied to improvements in human rights and environmental management but there was a notable increase in brands publishing “anti-bribery and corruption” policies both for the companies’ workforce and for their suppliers.
Nazma Akter, Banglahdesi trade unionist and founder of the AWAJ Foundation said greater transparency was a vita first step in addressing potential issues: “If unions and workers in Bangladesh have a list of where brands are manufacturing, it is so much easier for us to resolve problems quickly. We can address issues directly with brands.
“Disclosing information about working conditions helps us better understand and solve issues facing women workers in Bangladesh, such as health, childcare, maternity rights, female leadership and living conditions and wages. Ultimately, everybody should be more transparent. Fashion brands and retailers, governments, trade unions and suppliers need to respect and trust each other and work together with openness and honesty,” Akter added.
Fashion Revolution Global Operations Director and Founder Carry Somers said: “Over the last five years, millions of consumers have demanded a fairer, safer, cleaner industry. It’s working. We can see that brands are listening and the industry is starting to change.
“We’re calling upon the global fashion industry to turn its commitment to responsible sourcing into effective action this Fashion Revolution Week. Too many people working in the fashion industry, mostly women, are still underpaid, unsafe and mistreated. It’s time for change,” Somers said.
Image: Denimsmith, Melbourne, (c) Fashion Revolution