Transparency should 'not be a burden'

27 October 2020

Many fashion brands are failing to disclose their tier two and three suppliers, according to a report.

The report, by campaign group Fashion Revolution, highlighted the need for more transparency from fashion brands to help end exploitative practices within the supply chain. 

A survey on 62 major fashion brands, including John Lewis, Hugo Boss, and Abercrombie & Fitch, found that 46 firms had disclosed their first tier manufacturers.

However, only 23 brands had at least partially disclosed processing facilities where printing, dyeing, laundering and embroidery takes place, and just 18 brands had partially disclosed the supplies carrying out textile spinning, knitting and weaving.

Fashion Revolution highlighted reports of workers facing “deceptive recruitment practices, intimidation and threats, limited contact with the outside world, unhealthy and unsafe living conditions, excessive overtime and withheld wages” at textiles mills in India and Taiwan. 

Workers in Bangladesh tanneries and dye houses were also reported to lack personal protective equipment, exposing them to harmful chemicals.

Fashion Revolution said: “Currently, most supply chain disclosure by major brands and retailers covers their first tier manufacturers, where they tend to have direct business relationships with the suppliers that are involved in the final stages of production such as cutting, sewing, assembling and packing for shipment. 

“When you start to look further down the supply chain where fabrics are knitted or woven, textiles are treated and laundered, yarns are spun and dyed, fibres are sorted and processed and raw materials are grown and picked there remains a widespread lack of transparency.”

Meanwhile, a separate report by the Clean Clothes Campaign hightlighted the need for legislative reform to enforce transparency at a corporate level in the garment industry.

It recommended that governments of countries where major fashion brands are headquartered and garment producing countries to implement mandatory laws on supply chain disclosure and laws around human rights due diligence should be advanced.

The report also called for brands and retailers to publicly report more than the minimum level of supply chain disclosure, including suppliers and mitigation measures.

The report said: “Transparency should not be seen as a burden, but rather as a requirement which brings positive effects for the business itself, such as improving the efficacy of due diligence processes, increasing operational efficiency, and enhancing the business’ reputation by showing its commitment to monitoring workers’ rights and demonstrating accountability.”

In Germany, a proposed law will see firms fined if they fail to carry out human rights due diligence on their supply chains. The EU has also committed to a legislative initiative on mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence obligations for EU companies in early 2021.

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