Fashion Supply Chains

Report Finds Fashion Supply Chains ‘Not Transparent’: Dior, Prada And Giorgio Armani In Bottom 10%

Few fashion brands are implementing measures to disclose details on their supply chain, according to Fashion Revolution. Any ethical breaches within many of the world’s 100 leading brands may be undetected. Worse still, they may be undetectable.

Fashion Revolution, a campaigning NGO, assessed the transparency scorings of brands’ supply chains. The research was conducted through a combination of questionnaires sent directly to the brands and direct research from websites and published policies.

No brand scored higher than a 50% level of transparency. Such a score would require that brands publish “detailed information about assessment and remediation findings and detailed supplier lists from manufacturing right down to raw materials”. This requirement would be a basic provision in the eyes of many consumers.

The report noted that:

While we are seeing brands share their policies and commitments, there is still much crucial information about the practices of the fashion industry that remains concealed, particularly when it comes to brands’ tangible impact on the lives of workers in the supply chain and on the environment.”

The research, unlike many other similar studies, is extremely broad in the issues that it covers. It surveyed 28 different ethical topics, from animal rights, to corruption, to forced labor, to environmental protection.

Overall, the brands scored poorly. The average score for transparency was 49 out of 250.

Adidas, Gap, and Reebok are a in the top performing bracket. Among the worst scoring brands were Abercrombie & Fitch, Amazon, Dior, Giorgio Armani and Urban Outfitters.

Three brands published nothing at all about their supply chains. Only eight brands scored higher than 40%.

There were five main areas in which the research explored:

  • Policy and commitments: Published code of conducts and requirements.
  • Governance: The incorporation of ethical issues into procurement policies.
  • Traceability: The publication of supplier lists.
  • Know, show and fix: Tangible measures taken to enforce standards.
  • Spotlight issues: This year, the report focused upon money and power in the supply chain.

It was the first of these areas that was the best performing, with an average score of 49% across all the surveyed brands. But writing a policy document is the easiest task to perform – but perhaps the least impactful in ensuring ethical behavior. Within this area, we see 88% of brands applying forced labour codes upon their suppliers. By contrast, only 26% possess vendor code of conducts that covered notice periods and disciplinary action.

The area in which the researchers found the greatest weakness was in respect of traceability. This relates to brands’ publication of supplier information, their address, size and production details. Perhaps unsurprisingly for supply chain observers, few brands published anything beyond the first tier. 14 of the 100 provided details of second-tier suppliers. None provided information regarding raw material providers.

On ensuring that supplier staff have a reasonable quality of life, the report was critical:

34 out of the 100 brands have made public commitments to paying living wages to workers in the supply chain (such as through collective bargaining agreements or as part of the Fair Labor Association) but only four brands — H&M, Marks & Spencer, New Look and Puma — are reporting on progress towards achieving this aim.”

The implication here is that, aside from the published commitments, few tangible measures are undertaken to deliver the promise.

The inference of much of this report is that brands are aware of the ethical practices within the supply chain, but are reluctant to publish information. However, the truth may be more mundane, if worse. As we saw in the recent BBC investigation into Turkish fashion industry, many brands are outsourcing large portions of their supply chain to a highly fragmented supplier base. Such a cottage industry of patchwork producers is beyond the powers of most buyer teams to trace and monitor.

Simply put, the supply chain can be just a mystery to the brands as its consumers.

However, important reports, such as Fashion Revolution’s study, should highlight to the brands that they have a responsibility to know the ethical impact of their supply chains. Moreover, this research helps communicate to these companies that the public expects brands to ensure that ethical behavior prevails at all levels of chain.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: