The State of Transparency in Fashion

Consumers deserve to know where their products come from. Who made them, under what conditions, where, what materials used, and how far a good travels are important aspects of tracking sustainability. Transparency often refers to information a company releases that answers questions about these facets amongst its supply chain.

The Global Reporting Initiative, International Organization for Standardization (ISO), and Carbon Disclosure Project are all structures or organizations that seek to organize and track sustainability performance of companies. These are just some examples of organizations aiming to track social, financial and environmental performance.

The state of transparency in the fashion industry is relatively low. Some major companies have been improving in their supply chain information signaling a potential shift in the industry. Many consumers already take sustainability into high consideration when contemplating consumption of fashion products. Based on the 2020 Fashion Transparency Index, companies such as H&M, C&A, Adidas/Reebok, Esprit and Patagonia head the list for highest ‘score’ in transparency. This measurement is based off 220 indicators ranging from animal welfare to chemical use.

The scores here reflect policy information that is available, published supply chain data and records that come straight from the companies available to the public. As a whole, the industry has a less-than-stellar performance. Greater than half (54%) of brands score 20% or less on transparency about social and environmental issues. The overall average score was 23%, up from 21% in 2019.

This information can shed light on important aspects of the industry, potential sustainability chokepoints, and overall trends in the face of the market. For the world to reach its goals outlined in the Paris Agreement, corporations and governments alike will need to align values. Organizations that measure, track and educate about this subject are increasing in both support and necessity. The fragmented global supply chain of fashion will require cooperation at every level and real transparency to be held accountable.

As a human sharing the same planet, these issues concern all of us. By improving the transparency within fashion, we can continue to innovate and improve where it matters.

How would you improve accountability within complex supply chains spanning multiple countries?


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