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Green Is The New Black

This Year’s Fashion Transparency Index Is Out, And It Does Not Look Good

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fashion transparency index green is the new black

The seventh edition of the Fashion Transparency Index, published by not-for-profit Fashion Revolution, ranked 250 of the world’s largest fashion brands and retailers based on their public disclosure of human rights and environmental policies, practices, and impacts, across their operations and supply chains.

Today, we’re covering the key findings and takeaways from the index. But before you dive in, we want to stress that the Index is NOT to be used as a shopping guide. It’s about accountability more than anything else, and does not measure ‘good’ or ‘bad’ brands to buy from. They issue strict communication guidelines to brands to encourage brands to communicate their results without misleading sustainability and labour claims.

The Fashion Transparency Index reveals insights into the most pressing issues facing the fashion industry:

> The majority of brands (85%) do not disclose their annual production volumes despite mounting evidence of clothing waste around the world, and most major brands and retailers (96%) do not publish the number of workers in their supply chain paid a living wage.

> As new and proposed legislation focuses on greenwashing claims, almost half of major brands (45%) publish targets on sustainable materials yet only 37% provide information on what constitutes a sustainable material.

> Only 24% of major brands disclose how they minimise the impacts of microfibres despite textiles being the largest source of microplastics in the ocean.

> The vast majority of major brands and retailers (94%) do not disclose the number of workers in their supply chains who are paying recruitment fees. This paints an unclear picture of the risks of forced labour as workers may be getting into crippling debt to accept jobs paying poverty wages.

> Just 8% of brands publish their actions on racial and ethnic equality in their supply chains.

Highest scoring brands

Italian brand OVS scored highest again this year with 78%, tied with Kmart Australia and Target Australia, who increased their scores by 22 percentage points vs 2021.

This is followed by H&M, The North Face and Timberland who are tied at 66%. The biggest movers this year are Calzedonia Group brands (Calzedonia, Intimissimi and Tezenis) who increased their score by to 54%, a significant improvement compared to last year’s 11%.

Lowest scoring brands

17 major brands score a dismal 0% rating including: Jil Sander, Fashion Nova, New Yorker, Max Mara, Semir, Tom Ford, Helian Home, Belle, Big Bazaar, Elie Tahari, Justfab, K-Way, KOOVs, Metersbonwe, Mexx, Splash and Youngor. A total of 73 brands score in the 0-10% range — that’s almost a third of the world’s largest brands and retailers. We need to see a significant shift in the next 12 months if brands are serious in their commitment to tackling global inequality and the climate crisis.

Fashion Revolution’s Policy & Research Manager Liv Simpliciano believes that greater transparency is crucial in order to address the root cause of many of fashion’s social and environmental issues featured in the Fashion Transparency Index.

“It is frustrating to see brands’ continued lack of transparency on critical issues like their waste volumes, carbon and water footprints and workers being paid a living wage. When there is a lack of transparency on the issue itself, we cannot reasonably understand if what is being done is robust enough to drive the impact we so urgently need. Transparency empowers civil society and workers’ representatives and until brands publicly disclose all the information necessary to hold them accountable for their impacts, being un-transparent feels like a deliberate strategy to reinforce the status quo.”

More key findings from the 2022 index

 

So only 24% of brands disclose how they minimise the impacts of microfibres. Microplastics are one of the biggest polluters of ocean waste. Last year, microplastics were found in a human placenta.

45% of brands publish a target on sustainable materials but only 37% define what constitutes a sustainable material. So yes greenwashing is huge here. Some are deffo making it up as they go along.

11% of brands publish their wastewater test result. In countries where production is done, some bodies of water are considered ecologically dead because of factory runoff and wastewater. That’s a crime against humanity. Clean water is a human right.

 

8% of brands publish their actions on racial and ethnic equality in their supply chain. (But everyone’s posting a black square) And only 6% publish data on gender based labour violations in supplier facilities. Of course most people who make clothes are … women.

36% of brands publish responsible tax strategy. Lots of big brands are tax avoiders and will totally hide from paying proper taxes. And this is also why we need politicians who will hold big business account.

The lack of disclosure on production volumes and living wages is disappointing (and how much is being incinerated?) How can fashion brands can claim any sort of sustainability plan without revealing how much they’re producing? It’s also really interesting to see how many brands scored high on “policies and commitments” versus how much lower they scored on their *actual* progress.

 

Optimism despite

Fashion Revolution’s co-founder and global operations director Carry Somers said in the report: “In 2016, only five out of 40 major brands (12.5%) disclosed their suppliers. Seven years later, 121 out of 250 major brands (48%) disclose their suppliers. This clearly demonstrates how the index incentivises transparency but it also shows that brands really are listening to the millions of people around the world who keep asking them #WhoMadeMyClothes? Our power is in our persistence.”

What can you do? Use the Fashion Transaprency Index to inform your activism: ask brands #WhoMadeMyClothes? #WhoMadeMyFabric? And #WhatsInMyClothes?

Send emails to brands to ask them why that is. It takes just five seconds to add public pressure. If you have email templates, share them with your friends and family – make the work easier so that more are mobilised to act.  And join the call for living wages in the fashion supply chain here.

Did you have a look at the report? What stood out for you?

FEATURED IMAGE: via Fashion Revolution | IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A group of labourers holding up signs that read “I made your clothes” in a cursive font. In the background, the factory equipment is visible. 

 

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