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Retailers Come Clean as Info Released On How and Where Products Are Made

In response to growing consumer demand to know how and where clothing is made, some retailers and brands are now providing that information.

Prompted perhaps by the recent collapse of a garment factory in Bangladesh which killed more than 1000 people, a new transparency is developing in many aspects of the manufacturing of apparel where once those details were hush-hush.

Nordstrom may add information about the humane working conditions under which the garments it sells are manufactured. Nike and Walmart, accused in previous years of operating foreign “sweatshops,” are testing an index (the Higg Index) which measures labor, social and environmental conditions in the fields of their overseas operations. Also participating in the index, under the auspices of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, are, among others, Gap, J.C. Penney, and Target. Results will be published this fall.

The Sustainable Apparel Coalition describes itself as an industry-wide group of over 80 leading apparel and footwear brands, retailers, suppliers, nonprofits and NGOs working to reduce the environmental and social impact of apparel and footwear products around the world.

Reflecting the new move to disclosure, Everlane, an online boutique, announced that it will itemize the cost of all their clothing, post photographs of the factories where their apparel is made, and disclose detailed production information. Michael Preysman, Everlane CEO and founder, cited the transparency revolution that started in the food sector as influencing a similar emerging phenomenon in the clothing industry.

“In the clothing industry, everybody wears it every day, but we have no idea where it comes from,” he said. “People are starting to slowly clue in to this notion of where products are made.


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