Apparel companies are answering the call for more transparency and building it into their changing supply chains.
Fashion Revolution’s Fashion Transparency Index, which evaluates apparel companies based on their circularity, labor and traceability commitments, ranked 150 companies on their corporate social responsibility (CSR) progress. Adidas topped the list, followed by Reebok, Puma, H&M Group and Esprit.
“When we compare the 98 brands and retailers that were included in both the 2017 and 2018 Fashion Transparency Index, we have seen these brands and retailers increase their level of transparency by an average of approximately 5 percent overall and across each section of the methodology—suggesting that inclusion in the Fashion Transparency Index has influenced brands and retailers to disclose more,” Fashion Revolution noted.
The top five retailers were evaluated based on five key factors: policy and commitments; governance; traceability; know, show and fix, and spotlight issues. Adidas and Reebok topped the index again this year, scoring 58 percent, or 144.5 out of 250 possible points. H&M Group achieved a score of 55 percent, due to its ongoing progress with disclosing its suppliers, making its Conscious Exclusive collection more traceable and fueling its goal of achieving full circularity in coming years.
“The Transparency Index by Fashion Revolution raises important concerns for the fashion industry, such as traceability, circularity and working conditions. At H&M Group, we do not only agree on these important concerns, we have been working for many years to develop a more ambitious sustainability strategy for our business,” H&M said. “We believe transparency plays a key role to build trust and credibility along our supply chain and empowers our customers to make more sustainable choices.”
Sharing supplier information is one way H&M has added transparency into its processes over the past four years. According to retailer, which counts itself among the first fashion retailers to make its supplier list consumer facing in 2013. Today, H&M said its supplier list includes first tier manufacturing supplier factories for 98.5% of its products and second tier factories for 60 percent of its products.
Fashion Revolution noted in the report that 37 percent of brands and retailers are publishing a list of their manufacturers (tier 1), up from 32 percent in 2017. These supplier lists have become more detailed, as well, including information such as factory street address, types of products they make and the number of workers.
Rounding out H&M Group’s transparency efforts is its desire to drive transparency across the fashion industry. The company, which, according to The Fashion Transparency Index, has signed global framework agreements with garment worker organizations, including IndustriALL, is also a member of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, a global alliance of apparel industry members that aims to promote better working conditions and sustainable production practices. In addition to its organization relationships, H&M Group said it would like to develop a consumer labeling system that would allow consumers to compare products’ sustainability performance. H&M Group said this move could urge apparel companies, brands and retailers to step up their transparency commitments and foster a better planet in the future.