Last week, (almost) everything revolved around the Fashion Revolution Week. Many of you know that the birth of the worldwide movement is as striking as it’s tragic: it was April 24, 2013, when Rana Plaza collapsed, an eight-story building in Sabhar, Bengal, where mostly textile workers lived. More than 1,100 people were killed and almost three times as many were seriously injured. The 400-page report of the Commission of Inquiry tells that the building was in danger of collapse and this fact was evidently also well-known to those responsible. However, the tragedy can not be undone by any of this. It requires though – and here begins Fashion Revolution – a global network that changes the fashion industry sustainably and emphatically and observes & indexes to what extent certain companies improve in terms of transparency.
The Fashion Transparency Index does just that. Since 2016, it has ranked the world’s largest brands in supply chain transparency and social and environmental policies. The focus is on brands that generate at least $ 500 million in annual sales – 200 brands this year. In terms of content, there are five key areas that are relevant to the ranking:
1 Policy and commitments
4 Supplier assessment and remediation
5 Spotlight issues, which this year focus on the Sustainable Development Goals
The methodology stands or falls with the willingness of companies to share information on the points mentioned. The more willingness to transparency, the better the results, so the simple logic of the Fashion Transparency Index.
The good thing in advance: In fact, much has improved over the past four years. With 250 points to go, Adidas, Reebok and Patagonia each scored 64%, sharing first place. This is followed by Esprit, H&M, C&A, Asos and Puma. Compared to the two previous years, this is a significant step forward: in 2017, none of the brands had crossed the 50% barrier. It turns out that, above all, brands that operate in the sportswear and outdoor sector are showing increasing willingness to take a stand on the aforementioned key points.
Sarah Ditty, Policy Director at Fashion Revolution, notes in the official press release on the Fashion Transparency Index: “The progress we are seeing this year, coupled with the feedback Fashion Revolution has received from brands, suggests that inclusion in the Fashion Transparency Index has motivated major fashion brands to be more transparent. We are seeing many brands publishing their supplier lists and improving their scores year on year.” This improvement can even be quantified exactly: For the 98 brands that were reviewed in 2017 and 2018, the average score has improved by 8.9%. 11 of these brands have even raised their score by more than 10% – a figure that shows that industry pressures are growing.
In the area of luxury brands, Gucci and Bottega Veneta in particular were able to score points. With a rating of between 31 and 40%, they are well below the sports brands mentioned above, but have achieved 100% in the areas of “Principles and Obligations” and “Control”. Chanel, Sandro and Dior were also able to improve their scores and show that even the big fashion houses are increasingly disclosing information about their supply chains.
As positive as the developments may seem at first glance, Ditty tries so hard to stress that the work is far from over. Of course, the index does not provide immediate insight into how ethical or sustainable a business operates, but it also sets out the willingness of brands to publicly admit to their human rights and environmental practices and their consequences. That this is one of the key levers to more accountability & liability, Ditty confirms equally: “We will continue to use the Index to measure brands’ progress and help push them harder and faster towards taking on more responsibility for their policies, practices and impacts.”