Fashion industry continues to lack transparency about impacts on environment and workers, report finds

Published by Niall Sargent on

An alarming number of companies within the fashion industry continue to lack transparency about impacts on the environment and workers along their supplies chains, a new report has found.

The findings are laid out in the Fashion Transparency Index, which ranks 100 global brands and retailers based on the level of information they share about their supply chains. The report was launched by Fashion Revolution, a non-profit organisation campaigning for greater transparency in the industry supply chain.

In their analysis, researchers used results from questionnaires sent directly to the companies and policies published on the brands’ websites. The companies surveyed vary from fashion mainstays Prada and Chanel to Tesco and Marks and Spencer.

According to the report, brands averaged 49 out of a possible 250 points, with almost one-third of the companies surveyed scoring less than 25 points.  Dior was among three brands to receive no points as it failed to disclose any information.  The highest ranking brands were Adidas and Reebok, although both still failed to gain half of the total points available.

Roughly 75 million people work directly in the fashion and textiles industry, 80 per cent of which are women. Numerous cases of exploitation, verbal and physical abuse, unsafe working conditions and poor pay have been recorded at garment factories the world over.

The release of the report marks the four year anniversary of the Rana Plaza garment factory tragedy in 2013. Over 1,100 people died and 2,500 were injured when the building in Dhaka, Bangladesh collapsed.

Fashion Revolution co-founder, Carry Somers, said that this incident pushed her to start the organisation as a lack of transparency and accountability within the fashion industry was clearly “costing lives”. According to the report, campaigners had to search through the rubble to identify the brands of companies whose clothes were being produced at the factory.

“Tragedies like Rana Plaza are eminently preventable but will continue to happen until brands and every other stakeholder in the fashion supply chain, takes responsibility for their actions and impacts,” she said.

She added that consumers should pay closer attention to where their clothes come from, and take action to push companies to develop better supply chains. “We need to be able to scrutinise what it is we’re really paying for. We need to know that the people who clothe us are being paid enough to live with dignity. Otherwise, we’re effectively and unwittingly contributing to the exploitation of other,” she said.

“As consumers, we have power. We are the driver of trends, and every time we buy something, we’re voting with our wallet. When we speak, brands listen.”

The full report can be viewed here:

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Niall Sargent

Niall is the Editor of The Green News. He is a multimedia journalist, with an MA in Investigative Journalism from City University, London