Fashion Revolution Transparency Index
Bryony Moore discusses her groundbreaking research
Ethical Consumer has partnered with Fashion Revolution to, this week, publish the first edition of the Fashion Transparency Index.
The index rates 40 of the biggest global fashion brands and companies according to the level of transparency in their supply chain.
Lead researcher and Ethical Consumer research associate Bryony Moore gives us the inside view on the research:
1) Did you have a dialogue with the companies? Which were the best/worst companies at responding to requests for information?
All the 40 brands featured in the report were sent a questionnaire asking for more information about each question in the ratings methodology. Of these brands, only 10 responded to the questionnaire and we commend these brands for engaging with the process but were disappointed that more companies were unwilling to engage. To us this seemed symptomatic of the problems in the industry.
Those that didn't respond were rated based on the information publicly available on their websites. As a result they may have received lower scores, as our researchers were not party to information about initiatives the companies may be working on behind closed doors.
2) What stands out from the research?
The vast majority of companies really need to be doing a lot more work around transparency.
While some brands scored higher than others, none of the 40 we surveyed scored the very highest marks. We set the bar quite low so this was surprising.
Some good progress is being made by some brands (e.g. H&M, Levi and Inditex). However in certain areas of the supply chain, much work is needed to demonstrate that we really know where our clothes come from. For instance none of those surveyed are meaningfully tracking and reporting on third-tier suppliers such as the sources of their cotton.
3) Is there anything you'd like to research further? or develop?
This project is an ongoing one, and the methodology remains a living, breathing beast! We’d like to receive input from other stakeholders like NGOs, researchers and trade unions, as well as the brands themselves. We aim to reflect current best practice, which will hopefully improve as time goes on. Next year we'd like to rank 100 brands.
4) Are ethics improving in this sector?
Yes, very gradually. But we hope that this work will spur companies on to do more and spur the public on to challenge them to do more.
The Transparency Index shows that while some brands we surveyed are making more progress than others, not one of them can fully answer the question #WhoMadeMyClothes. We want to see much, much more transparency around the second, third, fourth tiers of the supply chain.
To explain more an increasing number of brands are beginning to disclose the factories which manufacture their garments - the Cut Make Trim facilities, as they’re known. We found a small number of brands making this list publicly-available on their websites.
But, as described in the report, the supply chain for a piece of clothing is incredibly long and involves multiple actors - cotton is grown by a farmer, then that cotton is ginned and spun into thread, then woven into cloth which is dyed and finished. Only at this point does the Cut Make Trim (CMT) factory come in to the equation. We call this CMT stage the ‘first tier’ of the supply chain. Each supplier involved before the Cut Make Trim stage is a different tier.
Find out more about The Transparency Index