Adidas, H&M and M&S among the world’s most transparent fashion brands

March 22, 2019 0 By HearthstoneYarns

London – Change towards a more sustainable future may be slow within
the fashion industry, but the leading companies, such as Adidas, H&M, and
Esprit have taken steps to become more transparent over the past year.
According to Fashion Revolution’s Transparency Index 2018, which reviews
and track 150 major fashion companies based on their social and
environmental policies, these brands are paving the way towards greater
transparency within the fashion industry. However, data shows that there
are still too many large brands, as well as smaller players, who chose to
disclose little to nothing about their social and environmental

But why is the need for transparency in the fashion
industry so high? When the Rana Plaza building collapsed five years ago in
Bangladesh, killing thousands of garment workers, people had to dig through
the rubble to identify which brands had been producing at the five
factories there. In some instances, it took weeks for retailers to figure
out why their labels were found among the ruins in the first place and
which purchasing deals they made with those suppliers. At the end of the
day, many apparel brands did not even know their products were being made
in those factories – highlighting the fragmentation in the supply chain
which can obscure accountability. As the vast number of fashion retailers
do not own their own manufacturing facilities, which it makes it even more
difficult to monitor conditions across the global supply chain.

Adidas, Reebok and Puma among the most transparent Fashion Brands

Which is why Fashion Revolution has been tracking leading global
brands and benchmarked their performance on five key areas: policy and
commitments, governance, traceability, know how and fix, and spotlight
issues – to shine a light on the responsibility companies hold to ensuring
safe and secure working conditions. Adidas and Reebok scored the highest in
the Fashion Transparency Index 2018, achieving a transparency score of 58
percent in total. These brands were followed by Puma, H&M, Esprit, Banana
Republic, Gap, Old Navy, C&A and Marks & Spencer, who all scored within 51
percent to 60 percent out of a possible 250 points.

Asos came closely after the top ten, having significantly increased its
level of factory disclosure since 2017. The British e-tailer was followed
by denim giant Levi Strauss and then The North Face, Timberland, Vans,
Wrangler (all owned by VF Corporation), G-Star Raw, Tchibo and Bershka,
Massimo Dutti, Pull & Bear, Stradivarius and Zara (all owned by Inditex),
all scoring in the 41 to 50 percent range. This year sees the Fashion
Transparency Index review 150 fashion brands, up from 100 brands covered in
2017. The original brands which were reviewed in 2017 have been reviewed
again in 2018 to see if they have changed their practices and become more

In a survey of over 10,000 consumers from around the world, 78 per cent said it is somewhat or very important for a company to be transparent

Fashion Transparency Index 2018

Overall fashion brands show a 5 percent
improvement in transparency levels across each area of the Index’s
methodology, which underlines how the Index, as well as other movements and
initiatives, are encouraging brands to become more transparent. The three
fashion brands which improved their levels of disclosure over the last year
are The North Face, Timberland, and Wrangler who increased their
transparency by 22 percent overall. An increasing number of brands,
including Primark and Asos, publicly shared their factory suppliers were
their products are cut, sewn and finished, up from 12.5 percent two years
ago to 37 percent in 2018, representing one of the most significant and
positive boosts in transparency. More brands also published a list of their
processing facilities, 18 percent in 2018 up from 14 percent in 2017.

Another shift noticed by the Fashion Transparency Index sees luxury
brands become more open with their social and environmental policies and
practices. Although most luxury fashion houses tend to be less public with
their policies and suppliers in comparison to major retailers, this is
starting to change. Hugo Boss, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Gucci,
Bottega Veneta, YSL and Burberry all scored in the 31 to 40 percent range,
with Hugo Boss increasing its score by 11 percent, Calvin Klein and Tommy
Hilfiger increasing their score by 9 percent, Gucci, Bottega Veneta and YSL
increasing their score by 8 percent and Burberry increasing its score by 7
percent this year. Hugo Boss, Calvin Klein, and Tommy Hilfiger published a
list of their Tier 1 suppliers, whilst Hermès discloses its tier 1
suppliers as well as fabric suppliers and processing facilities.

“Over the last five years, millions of consumers have demanded a
fairer, safer, cleaner industry. It’s working. We can see that brands are
listening and the industry is starting to change,” said Carry Somers,
Fashion Revolution Global Operations Director and Founder. “We’re calling
upon the global fashion industry to turn its commitment to responsible
sourcing into effective action this Fashion Revolution Week. Too many
people working in the fashion industry, mostly women, are still underpaid,
unsafe and mistreated. It’s time for a change.”

Hugo Boss, Calvin Klein and Gucci become more Transparent in 2018

However, despite this shift towards greater transparency, much more
work has to be done in order to change the way fashion is made. At the
moment the current model of how fashion is made, sources and consumed
continues to cause much suffering and environmental damage and Fashion
Revolution strongly believes this needs to change in order to mark the
first big step towards greater transparency. Clear disclosure makes it
easier for brands, suppliers, workers, trade unions and NGOs to pinpoint
where certain issues may occur in terms of human rights and environmental
abuses, find who is responsible and a solution. But in the five years since
Rana Plaza, it is clear that most companies are still broadly operating in
the same way in which the disaster occurred.

Only 55 percent of retailers and brands published measurable,
time-bound goals on improving environmental impacts, whilst only 37 percent
published goals on improving human rights. A mere 12 percent disclose how
company employees’ incentives are tied to improvements in human rights and
environmental management. There has been a notable increase in the number
of brands and retailers that publish ‘anti-bribery and corruption’ policies
both for the companies’ workforce and for their suppliers. 62 percent of
brands are disclosing their process for fixing problems when violations are
found in a supplier facility.

64 percent of brands have disclosed more policies
and commitments than they did last year

Transparency Index 2018

“I still find it
incredible to fathom the success of Fashion Revolution, and harder still to
assess its true impact,” said Orsola de Castro, Fashion Revolution
Creative Director and Founder. “So much has happened over the past five
years, and everybody is so much more aware of the fashion industry’s effect
on its supply chain and our environment, about the need for transparency
and for a more intelligent approach to both consumption and production. We
know we have had a direct effect in deepening all these conversations, with
our fanzines which are both sold out (and the second was read 15.000 on
Isuu in just a few months), with our Fashion Transparency Index (downloaded
over 30.000 times) and with our social media impact which is huge.”

“As we enter our 5th year of campaigning, we are asking that more and
more people keep asking #whomademyclothes.”

Photos: Courtesy of Fashion Revolution. Credit: Alastair Strong, Fashion
Revolution 2018 Campaign