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We Don’t Know Enough About The Impact Our Clothing Has On People And Planet, Fashion Revolution Warns

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Fashion Revolution’s Transparency Index reveals that the top 100 global fashion brands still have a long way to go towards transparency

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Image credit: Fashion Revolution

Many of the biggest global brands that make our clothes still don’t disclose enough information about their impact on the lives of workers in their supply chain and on the environment, new research reveals.

The way fashion is made, sourced and consumed continues to cause suffering and pollution. Fashion Revolution believes that this urgently needs to change and that the first step is greater transparency.

Transparent disclosure makes it easier for brands, suppliers and workers, trade unions and NGOs to understand what went wrong when human rights and environmental abuses occur, who is responsible and how to fix it.

The Fashion Transparency Index 2017, released today, reviews and ranks how much information 100 of the biggest global fashion companies publish about their social and environmental policies, practices and impacts.

The research found that even the highest scoring brands on the list still have a long way to go towards being transparent. The average score brands achieved was 49 out of 250, less than 20% of the total possible points, and none of the companies on the list scored above 50%.

Adidas and Reebok achieved the highest score of 121.5 out of 250 (49% of the total possible points), followed by Marks & Spencer with 120 points and H&M with 119.5 points. However, only 8 brands scored higher than 40%, while a further 9 brands scored 4% or less out of 250 possible points, of which Dior, Heilan Home and s.Oliver scored 0 because they disclose nothing at all.

Out of the premium and luxury brands reviewed, 9 scored between 21-30% of the total possible points, which was higher than the average. The other 10 scored 15% or less.

The good news is that 31 brands are publishing supplier lists (tier 1) including ASOS, Benetton, C&A, Esprit, Gap, Marks & Spencer, Uniqlo, and VF Corporation brands since April 2016. This is an increase from last year when Fashion Revolution surveyed 40 big fashion companies and only five were publishing supplier lists.  This year 14 brands are publishing their processing facilities where their clothes are dyed, laundered, printed or treated. However, no brand is publishing its raw material suppliers. Banana Republic, Gap and Old Navy scored highest on traceability (44%) because their supplier list includes detailed information such as types of products or services and approximate number of workers in each supplier facility.

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Image credit: Fashion Revolution

Meanwhile few brands disclose efforts on living wages, collective bargaining, and reducing consumption of resources (on average 9% of the information required in these categories was disclosed), sending a strong signal to brands to urgently look at their own business models and purchasing practices.

 

There is a long way to go in order for the industry to pay a living wage, as only 34 brands have made public commitments to paying living wages to workers in the supply chain, and only four brands — H&M, Marks & Spencer, New Look and Puma — are reporting on progress towards achieving this aim.  This shows that much more needs to be done and faster by brands to ensure that workers, from farm to retail, are paid fairly.

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Fashion Revolution Co-founder Carry Somers said:  “People have the right to know that their money is not supporting exploitation, human rights abuses and environmental destruction. There is no way to hold companies and governments to account if we can’t see what is truly happening behind the scenes. This is why transparency is so essential.”

“Through publishing this research, we hope brands will be pushed in a more positive direction towards a fundamental shift in the way the system works, beginning with being more transparent.”

Dr. Mark Anner, Director, Centre for Global Workers’ Rights Penn State University said: “The time has come for brands and retailers to make their entire supply chains transparent. The time has also come to establish sourcing practices that are conducive to the human development and empowerment of the workers who work so hard every day to make the clothes we wear.”

Brands were awarded points based on their level of transparency across 5 categories, including: policy & commitments, governance, traceability, supplier assessment and remediation and spotlight issues which looks at living wages, collective bargaining and business model innovation. Brands were selected to represent a cross section of market segments including high street, luxury, sportswear, accessories, footwear and denim sectors.

The data revealed that:

  1. Policy & Commitments – overall score = 49%

The highest concentration of brands scored in the 71-80% range with 11 brands scoring between 81-90% and 16 brands scoring 20% or less. By and large, brands are disclosing the most about their policies and commitments on social and environmental issues.

  1. Governance – overall score = 34%

The largest number of brands (37) score 10% or less. 13 brands fall in the 41-50% range. Marks & Spencer is the only brand to score 100% meaning that they’re disclosing who in the team is responsible for social and environmental issues, along with their contact details, board level accountability, and how other staff and suppliers are incentivised to improve performance.

  1. Traceability – overall score = 7%

Overall brands are disclosing few details about their suppliers. 31 brands are publishing supplier lists (tier 1). 14 brands are publishing their processing facilities. No brand is publishing its raw material suppliers. 23 brands disclose having updated their supplier list at least in the past 12 months, while Target says it uploads its supplier list quarterly and ASOS promises to do so every two months.

  1. Know, Show & Fix – overall score = 16%

The highest concentration of brands (36) fall in the 11-20% range whilst another 31 score less than 10%. Adidas and Reebok score highest at 39%, with 7 other brands joining them in the 31-40% range. Brands often disclose their supplier assessment processes and procedures. However brands share little information about the results of their supplier assessments, and brands don’t publish much about the results of the efforts made to fix problems in factories.

  1. Spotlight Issues – overall score = 9%

Overall, brands are disclosing little about their efforts to pay living wages or to support collective bargaining and unionisation. Few brands are disclosing their efforts to address overconsumption of resources. Marks & Spencer, New Look and H&M scored in the 41-50% range, and no brand scored above 50%. The majority of brands scored less than 10%.

The report provides recommendations for how consumers, brands and retailers, governments and policy makers, NGOs, unions and workers can use the information contained in the Fashion Transparency Index to make a positive difference.

You can find more information at FashionRevolution.org

Shaping Convergence in Social and Labor Assessments

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Progress in developing an industry-wide tool, website launched

It has been one year since the launch of the Social & Labor Convergence Project, an initiative led by the world’s leading manufacturers, brands, retailers, industry groups and civil society organizations. The mission of the Project is to develop a common assessment framework. The number of signatories has tripled since the launch. This means today already over 95 signatories support the mission and invite any interested party to join. With all signatories participating in the work, the project has stayed on course with an ambitious two-year timeline. To continue growing this momentum and support, a project website has been released, providing more information on how to engage with the project.

The Social & Labor Convergence Project seeks to develop a simple, unified and effective industry-wide assessment framework. This framework includes a standard-agnostic tool and verification methodology to collect relevant and essential data, with the ultimate intent to replace current proprietary tools. A common framework for data collection will reduce duplicated efforts, creating opportunities to invest resources previously designated for compliance audits into the improvement of social and labor conditions.  Collecting common data allows business partners to measure continuous improvement, and increase the opportunity for transparency. In this way, the social impacts and sustained improvements to working conditions in the apparel and footwear sector is accelerated.

The number of signatories has tripled since the launch of this project in October 2015, with over 95 stakeholders supporting the mission and a standing invitation for new signatories to join. Organizations like Arvind Mills, G-Star, GAP Inc., H&M, Hirdaramani, Intertek, OECD, Solidaridad, VF Corp.-Timberland, WRAP are partners from the start. The most recent members include: lululemon, The Netherlands Government and the Sri Lanka manufacturers’ association JAAF.

Janet Mensink, SAC director Social and Labor Convergence Project: “We have maintained on track with our aggressive two-year timeline for the project, to which our achievements could not have been met to date without the multi-stakeholder efforts from all of our signatories. The first version of the tool has been created and is currently reviewed by all signatories’.  This first prototype will be pilot tested in the next month.”

After multiple consultations with signatories and external stakeholders and pilot tests, the converged tool and verification methodology will be finalized and ready for use by Q1 2018.

Colleen Vien, VF Corp.-Timberland and Steering Committee member of the Social & Labor Convergence Project: I’ve seen efforts like this fail previously, but I do believe we are at a time now when it can and will be successful – for several reasons:  egos are being checked at the door , other industries have proven its possible, external auditing firms and social/labor standard holders are not threatened by the idea of convergence, there’s a genuine interest by all to see all of our efforts be more efficient and (more importantly) more effective.  There’s much work to be done to ensure the outcome delivers something that meets all stakeholders’ needs, something that can be depended upon. Together, with all the stakeholders involved, I’m optimistic this time.

The project’s significant progress to develop an industry-wide tool which accelerates social progress is noteworthy. This will be an initiative to watch over the next year.

The Social & Labor Convergence project is facilitated by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) and is additionally supported with external funding. The SAC is the apparel, footwear and home textile industry’s foremost alliance for sustainable production. Interested parties can contact SAC: janet@apparelcoalition.org

*This story first appeared on Social &Labor Convergence

Timberland announces its Q1 2015 CSR performance

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STRATHAM, N.H.  – June 3, 2015

Highlights from this quarter’unnameds performance are as follows, organized by Timberland’s four CSR Pillars: Factories, Climate, Product, and Service.

More detailed performance data and analysis can be found on the Goals & Progress section of Timberland’s Corporate Social Responsibility (“CSR”) website, http://responsibility.timberland.com.

FACTORIES:  Of the 350 active factories at the end of Q1, 31% are rated Accepted, which is slightly lower than our Q4 result.  For a complete factory list, visit the factories section of our Responsbility site.  For more about VF’s Compliance audit process click here.

In 2015, we will be transitioning the measurement of suppliers’ environmental and social/labor management to the Sustainable Apparel Coalition’s Higg Index, consistent with our parent company, VF Corporation.  To have the greatest impact on VF’s supply chain as a whole, the focus will be on the top 250 suppliers across all VF brands.  In the coming quarters, we will be reporting on Timberland’s highest producing factories and their scores on the Higg Index.

CLIMATE: Since the transition to our parent company’s energy reporting structure, there is a significant delay in obtaining quarterly data of our greenhouse gas emissions and our use of renewable energy. We therefore are now reporting these numbers externally on a yearly basis, in conjuction with our Q2 reporting.

PRODUCT: Our global average grams of  volatile organic compounds used in footwear production is 49 grams per pair, which is even with our result from the same period last year; and our use of ROR in apparel was roughly 23.2% of total textile weight.  With respect to leather sourcing, 99.7% of Timberland’s leather volume came from tanneries scoring Silver or Gold in their Leather Working Group (“LWG”) audit.

SERVICE: Timberland employees served 19,148 hours year to date, a 85.6% increase over the same period last year. YTD Hours Utilization Rate (the percentage of employee service hours used compared to the total available hours according to our Path of ServiceTM program) during Q1 2015 increased to 7.6% vs. 4.4% in Q1 2014. Our Benefit Utilization Rate (the percentage of employees who serve at least one hour) YTD increased from 18.1% in Q1 2014 to 34% in Q1 2015.

Timberland, a brand of VF Corporation (NYSE: VFC), is a global leader in the design, engineering and marketing of premium-quality footwear, apparel and accessories for consumers who value the outdoors and their time in it. Timberland markets products under the Timberland®, Timberland PRO®, and Timberland Boot Company® brands, all of which offer quality workmanship and detailing and are built to withstand the elements of nature. Timberland® products are sold throughout the world in leading department and specialty stores as well as company-owned retail locations and online. Timberland’s dedication to making quality products is matched by its commitment to “doing well and doing good” — forging powerful partnerships among employees, consumers and service partners to transform the communities in which they live and work. To learn more about Timberland, please visit www.timberland.com.