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Mexican Firms Lag Brazil, World in New Fashion Transparency Index

MEXICO CITY – Mexican fashion brands lag their peers in Brazil and globally in terms of social and environmental transparency, a new study by Fashion Revolution revealed.

The 20 Mexican retailers and labels surveyed received a 7 percent average score compared with a 17 percent rating for their counterparts in Brazil and a 20 percent global average for all brands, the results of the survey, called Fashion Transparency Index Mexico 2020, revealed.

The study asked the 20 companies, 75 percent of which were Mexican, to answer questions about how they handle their business in terms of social and environmental sustainability, corporate governance, supply chain management and labor and human rights.

“The results of this first edition show Mexican brands still have a long way to go in their transparency levels….” Fashion Revolution partner Arlenica said in a statement. “90 percent of the brands included in the Index obtained a score below 10 percent and 11 of them registered a zero score.”

Local shoe and apparel brands such as Aldo Conti, Andrea, Charly, Cklass, Coppel, Julio, Long Beach Polo Club, Mariscal, Milano, Oggi, Price Shoes, Sears, Verochi and Yale de México, scored zero on average, showing that their levels of operational transparency are practically null. In contrast, upmarket department-store network El Palacio de Hierro scored highest locally, at 9 percent, followed by the Liverpool/Suburbia chain, with 7 percent. Footwear trademark Flexi also got 6 percent.

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The best performers were international merchants present in Mexico such as C&A, a study sponsor, with 68 percent, and Levi’s, with 48 percent. The reason may partly stem from higher social and environmental pressure to report these items outside Mexico, the authors noted.

Brands ranked high in boasting about their social and environmental commitments but low on proof of how they actually put them into practice, the report showed.

Corporate governance linked to social and environmental issues was also lacking. Roughly 15 of the brands did not share information about internal teams in charge of managing sustainability or human rights issues. Only Liverpool, Suburbia and Palacio de Hierro shared this information, according to the authors.

Supply-chain management traceability was also a concern with Flexi the only Mexican company that shares a supplier list, alongside international firms.

Meanwhile, the study cautioned that labor and salary conditions, fair wages and gender equality were “invisible issues for Mexican brands,” with only Levi’s reporting measures to ensure gender equality among its personnel and suppliers.

On the upside, Mexican firms frequently reported their community commitments, however, noting any events or engagements to support the wellbeing of the local communities were they operate, the survey said. About 25 percent of the firms surveyed also reported policies to combat corruption including El Palacio de Hierro, Liverpool and Suburbia.

Worryingly, however, Mexican brands failed to provide any information about environmental sustainability including data about how many products they make per year, with only C&A and Levi’s providing proof about circular and/or recycling practices; however, the data are vague and their results have not yet been divulged, according to Fashion Revolution. Relatedly, only suits label Milano, Suburbia and Liverpool released information about policies to cut carbon emissions from operations.

The bleak report is unsurprising, experts said, given Mexican industry’s long history of labor and environmental abuses.