Do you ever really think about where your clothes come from? Do you consider the amount the person who made your jeans will earn if you pay less than £30 for them? Would knowing which high street stores were the most honest about the conditions in which their products are made influence your shopping decisions? These are the questions Fashion Revolution Week was launched to answer, and this year it kicks off with a detailed index of who we can trust.
Created by Carry Somers, the founder and global operations director of Fashion Revolution, the Fashion Transparency Index ranks 100s of the biggest brands according to exactly how ethical they are socially, economically and environmentally.
The downside is, the brands included have to agree to be involved in the index, so there’s no naming and shaming where perhaps it would be useful to. They also have to have an annual turnover of $1.2billion USD, which rules out a fair few smaller British brands we’d like to hear from.
The key areas examined include governance, traceability, living wages and policy and commitments. Each brand is given a percentage as a score.
No brand this year scored over 50 per cent, showing just how far we need to go, but M&S were in at number one with 48 per cent. H&M, who released their first ethical wedding dress this year through the Conscious Collection, were alongside them. Adidas and Reebok followed, as did GAP, Puma and Banana Republic.
Zara and Asos scored in the 30 percentiles, while fast fashion giants Primark sat just 2 per cent behind Topshop at 24 per cent.
However, perhaps surprisingly given their position of quality over quantity, scraping the bottom was luxury fashion house Chanel, with just 1 per cent, and Dior, which scored nothing at all.
It’s worth pointing out here that a low score doesn’t necessarily mean poor ethical practice, but it does show a huge lack of commitment by these brands to report any progress they’ve made, and any new policies they’ve brought in to protect those further down their supply chain.
Not sure why this matters? Fashion Revolution was formed following the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh in 2013. The accident killed more than 1,100 people and injured 2,500. To this day, some workers at the factory are still unaccounted for.
The owner of the factory was charged with murder following accusations that he let workers into the building despite being told how unsafe it was to fulfil orders for deadlines.
Following the disaster, several Western fashion brands, including the United Colours Of Benetton, found out they had used the factory to produce their clothing. This highlighted the utter lack of transparency typical of fashion supply chains.
“Fashion Revolution Week is so important because people have the right to know that their money is not supporting exploitation, human rights abuses and environmental destruction,” Somers told The Debrief. “There is no way to hold companies and governments to account if we can’t see what is truly happening behind the scenes. This is why transparency is so essential.”
Fashion Revolution Week is supported by a number of celebrities too, including Lily Cole and Stella McCartney.
During the week, Somers and co are asking the public to quiz brands on #whomademyclothes. A number of events, featuring designers and fashion schools, will be happening internationally to mark the occasion.