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C&A Foundation Launches Plan to Improve Working Conditions in Brazil’s Fashion Industry

The Brazilian office of the C&A Foundation, Instituto C&A, is launching a “call for proposals” to find innovative initiatives to bring about systematic changes in working conditions in Brazil’s fashion industry.

As consumers become increasingly aware of the conditions in which fashion is made, the demands for greater transparency has increased, C&A said. A growing number of brands and industry groups have begun to publicly disclose information such as the names and locations of suppliers they work with, working conditions and safety information.

“We are looking for innovative ways to improve working conditions in the fashion industry in Brazil,” said Giuliana Ortega, executive director of Instituto C&A. “Transparency can contribute a great deal by disseminating reliable and publicly accessible information and by encouraging accountability, making working conditions a priority in the sector.”

Transparency will only contribute to improving working conditions when publicly disclosed information is used to encourage accountability, C&A noted. With access to relevant data and information, stakeholders at each stage of the value chain can prioritize choices that will improve conditions for garment workers.

The initial budget available for the call for proposals is $400,000, with a maximum of about $180,000 for each proposal, with up to three proposals to be chosen.

[Read more about Brazil’s fashion industry: Brazil’s Improving Economy Has Restored Faith in Footwear Sourcing]

Instituto C&A said a complex maze of production units, subcontracted factories and sourcing agents has emerged across numerous countries, including Brazil. Multiple stages between material sourcing, production and retail make the apparel supply chain opaque and leads to a complex international apparel industry where monitoring and tracing is challenging at all tiers of production from cotton fields to retail outlets.

The lack of transparency in the system has contributed to persistently poor working conditions and weak systems of accountability. Brands, buyers, governments and consumers are often unaware of how materials are sourced and the conditions under which items are produced.

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To address transparency in the fashion industry supply chain, the initiatives presented should develop or implement projects that disseminate public, accurate and credible sources of information and data on issues that directly or indirectly affect working conditions. They should disseminate information or data strategically, helping key players make decisions and implement actions that promote positive changes in practices, policies and behaviors that affect working conditions, and bring about changes that have the potential to be systemic, impacting the industry rather than just impacting a factor or brand.

Proposals can come from international organizations, but the initiatives must work in the Brazilian fashion industry.

C&A Foundation is an offshoot of the global fashion retailer C&A. The foundation funds and collaborates with individuals, brands, platforms and NGOs with a mission of making the entire fashion industry work better for the people who make the clothes.

Two entities share a vision of a sustainable apparel industry. C&A’s sustainability team is dedicated to fashion with a positive impact and to reaching their 2020 sustainability goals, and it collaborates with many key stakeholders.

Last week, C&A launched the new campaign #WearTheChange that offers more sustainable collections. Like the Gold level Cradle to Cradle Certified T-Shirts made out of 100 percent Bio Cotton and produced with renewable energy, better water management and advanced water-cleaning technologies, C&A’s #WearTheChange collection jeans are made with recycled cotton and jackets produced of recycled polyester, both reducing the waste production as well as the use of virgin raw materials.

C&A is also working to increase the collections made out of more sustainable materials, such as Bio Cotton, chrome free tanned leather and recycled polyester.

“All these attributes are combined under #WearTheChange, a collection spanning ladies’, men’s, babies’ and kid’s,” said Kristina Büttner, director of brand and marketing for C&A Europe. “We want our customers to see how much of our fashionable collection is more sustainable, which is already more than half of our products in the store.”