As the third anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory
collapse comes around, a number of reports have been published
examining fashion's commitment to an ethical supply chain. And
some have not done so well.
Internationally, the Fashion Transparency Index ranked 40 of the
largest players on the transparency of their supply chain. Levi
Strauss & Co came out on top (closely followed by H&M and
Inditex (Zara)), while Chanel resoundingly claimed the wooden
spoon. Hermés, Fendi, LVMH and Prada all joined Chanel in
the bottom quarter.
In Australia, Baptist World Aid researched 87 local and global
companies and issued a report disclosing a 'Slavery &
Labour Rights Grade' from A to F. Noone likes to report an F to
mum, but how about when an F may mean you're a slaver?
While reports like these are definitely contributing to
improvements in the industry (Baptist World Aid says that the
percentages of brands tracing their suppliers and raw materials,
and investing in paying fairer wages, have increased dramatically
in the past 3 years), we need to be careful to look beyond the
The Fashion Transparency Index was based on the results of a
questionnaire issued to 40 businesses. Only 10 filled it out.
Therefore the surveyors relied on the annual reports and websites
of the brands to develop the rankings. Similarly, Baptist World Aid
based its findings on publicly available information (and then
attempted to confirm with the companies). Interestingly, all
companies which scored an F chose not to engage with Baptist World
Therefore, the ratings do not necessarily show how ethical your
supply chain is, just how much you actually disclose to your
consumers. You could be doing everything right but if no-one knows
about it you are going to cop bad media.
Tracking your supply chain is costly and difficult (just ask Rip
Curl who learned this the hard way when it discovered its Chinese
manufacturer had secretly subcontracted to North Korea), but doing
it is quickly becoming another necessary cost of doing
While we don't expect the government to be legislating on
this any time soon, the pressure from ethical fashion advocates and
your customers will continue to grow.
We do not disclaim anything about this article. We're
quite proud of it really.
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