Fashion industry

 

Last updated: December 2015
 
 

Catwalk to Ethical Fashion

 

Our research for this report has focused on three main areas within the clothing sector: clothes shops, outdoor gear and companies selling jeans. This report acknowledges the positive impact of campaign action and how this has led to increased transparency is some areas of the clothing sector. 
 

 

Positive progress:

  • Many companies have signed the Bangladesh Accord to help prevent poor working conditions in Bangladesh factories.
  • 160 companies have signed the Cotton Pledge against child and forced labour in Uzbekistan.
  • There has been an increase in awareness among brands on the issue of living wages for garment workers as a core issue. 
  • 10% of the global retail fashion industry has committed to get rid of toxic chemicals by 2020. 
  • Outdoor companies are paving the way in cleaning up their goose and duck down supply chains to banish animal cruelty in clothes production. 

 

 

For detailed analysis of the companies behind the clothes:

Aftermath of Rana Plaza
 

The Bangladesh Accord has paved the way for future positive initiatives, in more than just the field of workers’ rights, by demonstrating that it’s possible to have a large number of companies working together within a legally-binding framework.

The level of transparency required by the Accord sets a new precedent and has set the bar for companies’ future reporting. Over two hundred companies have signed the Bangladeshi Accord on Fire and Factory Safety.

Factory Safety

Two Years on from Rana Plaza

The Rana Plaza factory collapsed in 2013 killing over 1100 people. We look at progress towards creating safer clothing factories in Bangladesh. 

Read More

 

   

Supply chains
 

In these guides we notice that nearly half of the big clothes shops and jeans companies are now scoring our best rating for their supply chain management, an improvement since we last looked at the sector.

This has been the result of many years of campaigns against clothing retailers to improve working conditions of workers within their supply chains.
 
Journey towards transparency: (click to enlarge)
 
 
 
Yet, even with companies achieving high scores for having best practice policies for workers’ rights in their supply chains, investigations are still finding issues. Virtually all of the clothes shops still get a worst rating in our Workers’ Rights column as do half of the outdoor gear and jeans companies.
 
For example, a report by SOMO and the India Committee of the Netherlands, in October 2014, highlighted the abuse of girls and women workers in the South Indian textile industry. Companies such as H&M and Next, who get our best rating for supply chain management, were said to be sourcing from these factories. Subsequently, H&M stopped using the factories but nevertheless it highlights the complexity of supply chains and the need to closely monitor what is going on.

 

Made in Europe 
 

Due to complex supply chains and poor workers’ rights issues in Asia, it is perhaps unsurprising to find that many clothing companies are now looking to bring production back to Europe and in some cases back to the UK. Plus, as the Guardian reported, “When a country such as Turkey, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia or Bulgaria appears on a label, the brand may also get a boost to their reputation, as consumers assume the ethics behind a skirt made in Portugal are better than those behind one made in China.” 
 
But, sadly, it seems that this doesn’t guarantee that the clothes are made in decent conditions. In 2014 the Clean Clothes Campaign released a report on clothing factories in eastern Europe. It details appallingly low wages, long hours and abuse. Safety issues may not be at the same rock-bottom level as in parts of Asia, but Bulgaria, Macedonia and Romania all have lower minimum wages than China.

Living Wage

Struggling for a Living Wage 

There is a campaign for all garment workers around the world to receive a living wage. We discuss the importance of establishing a living wage for millions of people across the world who are exploited for cheap labour. 

Read More

 

   

Environment

 

 

Toxic chemicals
 

In July 2011, Greenpeace released its first report exposing the hidden links between textile manufacturing facilities in China that discharge hazardous chemicals into the water, and international brands such as the sportswear giants Nike and Adidas. That report gave rise to the Detox Campaign which called on companies to make a commitment to eliminate toxic chemicals from their supply chains by 2020. By March 2015, 18 clothing companies had made the commitment.
 
 
 
Of the clothes shops and jeans companies we have covered in our guides, the following were rated by Greenpeace:
 
  • Detox leaders: G Star RAW, H&M, Levi Strauss, M&S, Primark and Fast Retailing (Uniqlo).
  • Detox losers: GAP and PVH (Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger)
  • Greenpeace’s latest Detox report focuses on the outdoor industry and its use of PFCs – toxic chemicals used for waterproofing. 
 

 

 


 

Chemicals in Clothing

Detox the Great Outdoors

Images of pristine nature are often used for advertising outdoor clothing. But nature does not remain untouched by the chemicals in weather-resistent fabrics. 

Read More

 

   

 

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