Marks & Spencer, H&M, Reebok and Adidas are leading the pack, but even the best are not doing enough to shine a light on conditions for workers, Fashion Revolution Index reveals

Adidas, Reebok, Marks & Spencer and H&M come top of a new list of global brands’ transparency when it comes to garment supply chains, according to Fashion Revolution, a global non-profit organisation campaigning for a systemic reform of the fashion industry.

But the Fashion Transparency Index 2017, which scores 100 of the biggest global fashion companies on the information they publish on their social and environmental policies, practices and impacts, found that even the best-performing brands have a long way to go. The average score was 49 out of 250, less than 20% of the total possible points, and even the top-ranking companies failed to score above 50%.

Highest scoring Adidas and Reebok achieved 121.5 out of 250, followed by Marks & Spencer with 120 points and H&M with 119.5 points. Only four other brands – Banana Republic, Gap, Old Navy, and Puma – scored higher than 40%, while a third, the largest group, scored below 10%: These included luxury brands Ralph Lauren, Georgio Armani and Christian Dior, and high street brands such as Forever 21, Claire’s Accessories, Anthropologie and Monsoon. Heilan Home and s.Oliver scored zero because they disclose nothing at all.

Rana Plaza

Fashion Revolution invited Fairtrade Foundation, along with other NGOs and interested parties to join the movement in 2013, following the collapse of Rana Plaza in Bangladesh, killing 1,134 garment workers. Its annual Fashion Transparency Index is published on the anniversary of the incident.

Credit: Flickr

Few brands on the list disclose efforts on living wages, collective bargaining, and reducing consumption of resources. On average only 9% of the information required in these categories was disclosed. Only 34 brands have made public commitments to paying living wages to workers in the supply chain, and only four brands — H&M, Marks & Spencer, New Look and Puma — are reporting on progress towards achieving this aim. 

The Fashion Transparency Index benchmark brands’ disclosure across five key areas: policy and commitments, governance, traceability, supplier assessment and remediation and “spotlight issues” covering the business model, living wages, unions and collective bargaining. Points are awarded only for information that has been publicly disclosed. The methodology is based on existing international standards and benchmarks, including the Sustainable Development Goals and UN Guiding Principles.

Despite 14 brands publishing their processing facilities where their clothes are dyed, laundered, printed or treated, no brand is publishing its raw material suppliers. Banana Republic, Gap and Old Navy scored highest on traceability (44%) because their supplier list includes detailed information such as types of products or services and approximate number of workers in each supplier facility. 

Audit information ‘inaccessible’

The index, funded by C&A Foundation, reveals that only 31 brands are publishing tier 1 supplier lists, including Asos, Benetton, C&A, Esprit, Gap, Marks & Spencer, Uniqlo, and VF Corporation. Jill Tucker, head of supply chain innovation and transformation for C&A Foundation, said: “The problem is that the information is held by a few actors. Tens of thousands of factory audits are carried out every year, yet with few exceptions, results remain inaccessible to people other than factory management and the buyer involved.”

Fashion Revolution is encouraging people around the world to ask brands #whomademyclothes during Fashion Revolution Week 24-30 April, to demand greater transparency to help improve the working conditions and wages of the people who work to make our clothes. The campaign, with the theme “money, fashion, power”, is running in over 90 countries.

Fashion Revolution is also encouraging consumers to put pressure on brands by writing to them about fair wages, going to an event, and trying #Haulternative, a way of updating your wardrobe without buying any new clothes, from upcycling to clothes swaps to finding gems in charity shops.

Fashion Revolution co-founder Carry Somers said: “People have the right to know that their money is not supporting exploitation, human rights abuses and environmental destruction. There is no way to hold companies and governments to account if we can’t see what is truly happening behind the scenes. This is why transparency is so essential.”

With pressure coming from collaborations between brands, government, consumers and workers, C&A say the call for change for transparency will become harder to ignore.

Fairtrade cotton

Meanwhile, Fairtrade has published new research showing that the social and environmental costs of Fairtrade cotton farming are five times lower than that of conventional farming, performing better on land use, water use, water pollutants, GHG emissions, and soil pollutants. The study also shows that Fairtrade cotton farmers tend to have lower social costs and higher social benefits, such as fairer wages and investment in schools.

The foundation has also published a valuation tool to enhance visibility of fashion brands’ cotton sourcing. It aims to deepen understanding of their social and environmental responsibilities, help them make informed strategic decisions and be more accountable for the environmental and social impacts.



#whomademyclothes  #haulternative  fashion  transparency  supply chains  Rana Plaza 

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