In this article we present to you the report Fashion Transparency Index 2019 By Fashion Revolution. A review of 200 of the world’s largest fashion brands and retailers ranked by how much they disclose about their policies, practices and social and environmental impact. Next we will analyze the executive summary, which contains the main indicators, the results of the measures and at the end of the article you will be able to download this excellent report for free.
Sports and outdoor brands lead the way in transparency.
“This year’s Fashion Transparency Index includes 200 of the world’s largest fashion brands and retailers. The brands with the highest scores this year are Adidas, Reebok and Patagonia which get 64% of the 250 possible points. Esprit with 62% and H&M with 61% are the next two brands in the 61-70% range. These brands are revealing a wide range of human rights and environmental policies and commitments, as well as information on how responsibility is applied throughout the business, who their suppliers are, and some data on the results and impact of their sustainability practices.
Information is still scarce.
While major brands are taking significant steps towards supply chain transparency, detailed information on the results and impact of their efforts is still lacking. We see very little information and disclosed data on the purchasing practices of these leading brands and retailers, raising the question: what are brands doing to be responsible business partners with their suppliers? And given that women make up the majority of the people who work in the fashion industry from factory to workshop, it is surprising to see that brands say very little about their efforts to empower women and achieve gender equality.
The goal: to be more transparent.
Major fashion brands and retailers are making significant efforts to be more transparent, but there is still a long way to go. This is the first year that brands and retailers will get more than 60%, showing that leading brands are taking steps to disclose more about their policies, practices and social and environmental impacts.
The average score among the top 200 fashion brands and retailers reviewed this year is 21%. While we are seeing some leading brands begin to disclose more information about their policies, practices and social and environmental impacts, there are still too many major brands lagging behind. No major brand has a score above 70%. But this year’s research shows an improvement from 2017, when no one brand got more than 50%. This clearly indicates that even leading brands and retailers still have significant margin for improvement when it comes to sharing their social and environmental policies, practices and impacts with their customers and stakeholders.
The index is a very useful tool for achieving greater transparency.
Due to the increase in the number of brands reviewed this year, the overall average score has not gone up, but among the 150 brands reviewed in 2018 and again in 2019 there has been a 3.6% increase in the average score. Among the 98 brands analyzed in 2017, 2018 and again in 2019, there has been an 8.9% increase in the average score since they were first reviewed. This progress, along with comments received directly from brands, suggests that inclusion in the Fashion Transparency Index has motivated leading brands to be more transparent. Eleven brands have increased their scores by more than 10% since last year, showing significant efforts to be more transparent, while 20 brands (10% of the brands measured) score above 50% compared to 10 brands in 2018.
14.5% of brands get less than 5%, compared to 17% of the brands last year, showing that more fashion companies are embarking on their journey towards greater transparency. It has been found that the UK’s Modern Slavery Act, the California Supply Chain Transparency Act and some of the relevant French and EU laws have forced major brands to disclose at least some information publicly.
Several fashion brands have disclosed supply chain information for the first time.
Chanel, S. Oliver, Dior, Desigual and Sandro are publishing significant social and environmental information for the first time. Chanel increased from 3% in 2018 to 10% this year. Desigual went up 7%, Sandro and S. Oliver were up 9% and Dior almost 22%.
Five major fashion brands have revealed nothing.
Only 5 brands (2.5% of brands reviewed) are getting zero points this year compared to 9 brands (6%) last year. These are Eli Tahari, Jessica Simpson, Mexx, Tom Ford and the Chinese men’s clothing brand, Youngor. Ten other brands have revealed very little or almost nothing (less than 2%), including Longchamp, Max Mara, New Yorker and several others. We must bear in mind that the ethical or sustainability performance of brands is not being evaluated, only the amount of information they publicly disclose about their human rights policies, practices and environmental impact.
More information is shared about policies than about their practices and impact.
As seen in previous years, brands continue to publish more information about their policies and commitments, with an average score of 48% in that section of the methodology, while revealing significantly less information about the outcomes and impacts of their social and environmental practices. For example, the average score among the 200 brands in the “Know, Show and Correct” section is only 14% and in the “Highlighted Problems” section, where we conducted in-depth research on some of the most pressing problems, the brands average 17%.
Leading brands have made significant progress in publishing their suppliers’ lists.
Seventy of the top two hundred fashion brands publish a list of their top manufacturers and 38 brands disclose their processing facilities, where ginning and spinning, embroidery, printing, finishing, dyeing and washing are generally performed. There has been an increase in average scores in the “Traceability” section by more than 7% among fashion brands reviewed since 2017. Ten brands (5%) are revealing some of the facilities or fields that supply their fibers such as viscose, cotton and wool. This is a significant increase from 2018, where only one brand disclosed this information and no brand shared this information in 2016 or 2017.
Many leading brands share information about their strategies to address environmental impact.
The global apparel and footwear industry accounts for 8% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, almost as much as the total for all of Europe. In a business scenario, the impact of fashion on climate is expected to increase 49% by 2030, the same as total annual greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, according to Quantis. Considering the need to act urgently on climate change and looking at what major brands are revealing about their efforts to reduce environmental impact, we wonder if they are doing enough.
55% of the 200 brands publish their annual carbon footprint on the company’s own sites, although only 19.5% disclose carbon emissions in the supply chain, where more than 50% of industry emissions are produced, according to Quantis. While 43% of brands publish a sustainable materials strategy or roadmap, only 29% are disclosing the percentage of their products that are made from sustainable materials. 54% of brands publish targets to improve their environmental impact, but only 40% publish targets to improve the human rights situation.
In addition, despite all the media scrutiny of major brands that burned unsold stock over the past year, it was surprising to see that only 26.5% of brands describe what they are doing to reduce surplus and pre-consumer waste (e.g. fabric trimmings, defective stock, production samples, others). 23.5% of brands offer their customers in-store or online recycling schemes and only 26% explain how they are investing in circular solutions to reduce textile waste.
Gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Given that the fashion industry employs millions of women, brands should share much more information on how they address gender equality. Women make up the majority of the people who work in the fashion industry from factory to workshop. About 70-80% of the world’s millions of workers in the garment industry are women, yet big brands do not seem to be doing much to address gender inequality and empower women throughout the fashion value chain. Just over a third of brands support women’s empowerment projects for garment manufacturing workers. However, only 3 brands (1.5%) publish data on gender violations at the supplier’s facilities. 63% of brands publish equal pay policies, but only 33.5% publish the annual gender pay gap in the company.
Major brands are revealing little information about their purchasing practices.
Since major brands expect trust and transparency from suppliers, they should also share more information publicly about their own commitments and efforts to be responsible business partners. Only 6 (3%) of the 200 brands reveal a method for isolating and calculating labor costs in their price negotiation process with suppliers. Thirteen brands (6.5%) reveal a policy to pay suppliers within a maximum of 60 days. Only 4 brands publish the percentage of payments to suppliers made on time and as agreed in terms: a point that has been repeatedly reported as a very important problem for suppliers, which can affect their ability to provide regular and fairly remunerated employment to workers. Eighteen brands (9%) reveal a formal process for collecting feedback from suppliers on the company’s purchasing practices.
How does Fashion Revolution plan to act on these findings?
The Fashion Transparency Index has been a useful tool for opening conversations with the world’s largest fashion brands and retailers about what they can do to be more transparent. We believe this is the first step in holding these big brands accountable for the human rights and environmental impact of their business practices. In many ways, the world’s leading fashion brands have played a major role in accelerating climate change and are certainly responsible for many of the human rights abuses that persist in global supply chains.
The major fashion brands have the moral obligation and the ability to effect change on a global scale for a large number of people and that puts them in a really powerful position. Having said that, we will not be able to maintain current levels of production and consumption, even if the systems are designed to be much more restorative. In short, fashion brands will need to innovate, use fewer resources and help their customers consume less, take better care of their clothes and wear them longer. The current model does not work for the environment, nor for the large number of people who work for poverty-level wages in the supply chain. This can change and major fashion brands have an important role to play.
Finally, Fashion Revolution states: we will continue to use the Index to measure brands’ progress towards transparency and help drive them to take greater responsibility for their policies, practices and impacts. For the 2020 edition of this Index, we expect to see even more major brands and retailers reveal to their suppliers. We want to see brands publishing more detailed information on the results of their efforts to improve human rights and environmental sustainability. And finally, we will encourage major brands to share much more information about their purchasing practices, their actions to reduce waste, and their efforts to achieve gender equality for women across the industry.
Download the “Fashion Transparency Index 2019-Fashion Revolution” Report here
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