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What’s Behind the Curtain: Savvy Shoppers Demanding More Transparency

Any company that claims to prioritize sustainability would do well to rank transparency equally high.

In fact, the two not only go hand in hand, but an expectation to have buy-in at all levels in the supply chain now exists as well.

That’s according to the findings in Sourcing Journal’s 2019 Transparency Report, sponsored by Cotton Incorporated, in which leading apparel, textile, accessories and footwear executives were recruited to share their thoughts on the challenges, opportunities and solutions surrounding this trending topic. An overwhelming 85 percent said transparency is either extremely or very important to the success of the apparel and footwear industries.

“Transparency is the first step,” emphasized one respondent. “Only when you know where the product and all its components are being made can you even think of making progress on ensuring that the sustainability footprint of the product is improved over time.”

While the driving force may vary, the report uncovered four main themes linking transparency and sustainability: raising accountability, brand protection, consumer education and progress continuation.

Most agreed that it was the brand that should carry the responsibility load for improving transparency in the industry, but the opinion on how to achieve this “new normal” differed greatly. Among the opinions on what would be the most effective:

  • consumer pressure (30 percent)
  • showing a greater link between transparency and sustainability (22 percent)
  • additional government regulations (18 percent)
  • companies realizing direct monetary benefits (15 percent)
  • industry standards (14 percent)

“The technology is the tool, and the tools are transparency for the most part are there. It really is about changing the culture and getting people to make that commitment,” said Jean Hegedus, ready to wear director, The Lycra Company. “The culture is lagging behind technology.”

Also covered in the exclusive report:

  • What’s driving companies toward transparency—and how they’re measuring the payoff
  • Where the responsibility begins and ends
  • Why it’s important to consumers
  • Where efforts are being focused and resources invested
  • Why companies need to beware of greenwashing in today’s “callout culture”

Download the 2019 Transparency Report, sponsored by Cotton Incorporated, here.