On Tuesday, the organization announced that the OAR, a free, open-source tool that compiles information from diverse factory lists into a central, open-source database, will be integrating data from the Higg sustainability software platform, establishing an “unprecedented collaboration to streamline facility data records for the apparel industry.”
The integration, conducted via application programming interface, or API, will allow manufacturing facilities to link their Higg Index account to their OAR profiles. Supply-chain partners can then use their suppliers’ unique OAR IDs to look up their Higg Index assessments on the Higg platform, saving stakeholders time, codifying disparate facility lists and mitigating the risk of inaccurate data sharing, the groups said.
The information, said Natalie Grillon, executive director of the OAR, is presented in a “structured, open format” that enables users to make “practical use of the data for the benefit of all.” The effort also strengthens transparency, accountability and collaboration, she noted. By coupling its data with the OAR, Higg Co is able to maintain facility profile data in real time, ensuring that information shared between organizations is up to date and providing opportunities to partner on “meaningful change” based on shared targets.
“As a neutral, open-source tool used by the entire apparel industry, the OAR exists to tackle the long-standing problem of facility identification,” she said in a statement. “By integrating data with the OAR via API, Higg Co is not only enhancing the necessary processing of data for its customers, but also sending a strong message to industry about the importance of collaboration and the value of a single, central ID to act as a common identifier across databases and systems.”
At present, more than 18,000 factories and mills, including those that work with the members of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, Higg Co’s parent, currently use the Higg platform. Higg facilities new to the OAR can opt to be included in the registry to help promote shared identification of manufacturing facilities, the organizations said.
“The management of supply chain data records has traditionally been complicated and unreliable,” said John Armstrong, chief technology officer at Higg Co. “By sharing data via API across the Higg and Open Apparel Registry platforms, we are setting a new standard that helps the apparel industry better manage and maintain this data, advancing the goal of transparency and accountability of data throughout the global supply chain.”
The new API integration, the OAR and Higg Co said, allows brands to more easily track supply-chain records while aligning with efforts like Fashion Revolution’s Fashion Transparency Index and the Transparency Pledge, which ask brands to submit facility lists annually, along with the Good on You app, which credits brands for supply-chain disclosure via the OAR in its labor rights section.
Agata Smeets, director of global sustainability at Gap, praised the partnership as a way to cast a brighter light on an industry used to operating in the shadows.
“We are pleased to see the integration of the OAR facility IDs with Higg Index data,” she said. “This integration will bring much needed transparency into the apparel supply chain and make it much easier to map our facilities going forward. We look forward to seeing OAR integrated into more platforms in the future.”
The announcement follows news that Higg Co will roll out an Open Data Portal that will make publicly available the data behind eco-product claims for the first time—something Higg CEO Jason Kibbey called an “important first step” for providing sustainability transparency at a global scale.
“As a consumer, you will soon be able to go on that journey for the first time,” Kibbey said in a statement. “As an NGO, you can investigate the details behind the claims, and as a researcher or data scientist, you can access new datasets. Meaningful data is essential to make better choices and drive industry change, even if you want to match.”