The latest Fashion Transparency Index has shown high street brands “leading the way on transparency” among the world’s largest 250 fashion brands and retailers. But those brands also need to do more, both in general and during the COVID-19 crisis.
Fashion Revolution’s annual list has named H&M as the highest-scoring brand with 73% out of 250 possible points “as it publishes detailed information about its supply chain and approach to a range of social and environmental issues”.
And Gucci is the highest-scoring luxury brand at 48%, up from 40% in 2019. It’s also the only brand to score 100% in the section on Policy and Commitments, while the other Kering Group brands come in just behind Gucci.
In a milestone, this is the first year since the Index’s inception that any brands scored 70% or higher, although very few reached that level.
After H&M, C&A came in second at 70%, followed by Adidas and Reebok at 69%, Esprit at 64% (showing that its business woes aren’t denting its transparency focus), Patagonia at 60% and the UK’s Marks & Spencer at 60%, another company highlighting how business challenges don’t have to drown out transparency commitments.
The lowest scoring brands, with 0%, were Bally, Max Mara, Pepe Jeans, Tom Ford, Elie Tahari, Jessica Simpson, Mexx and China’s Belle, Heilan Home and Youngor.
Fashion Revolution has tracked major brands and benchmarked their performance against five key areas since 2016. The 2020 Index also comprises indicators covering a wide range of topics such as animal welfare, biodiversity, chemicals, climate, due diligence, forced labour, freedom of association, gender equality, living wages, purchasing practices, supplier disclosure, waste and recycling, and working conditions.
And the latest Index added an extra 50 brands and retailers, some of which saw pretty low scores. They included US-based Fashion Nova (final score 2%), India’s Koovs (2%) and the UK’s PrettyLittleThing (9%).
But while many scores were low and the average score across the 250 brands reviewed this year was still only 23%, it was up 2 percentage points from 2019. Among the 98 brands reviewed every year for the past four years, there has been a 12-percentage point increase in their average scores.
The brands that have seen the biggest increases this year include under-pressure Monsoon whose score has risen by 23 percentage points, Ermenegildo Zegna (+22 percentage points), Sainsbury’s (+19), Dressmann (+17) and Asics, Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie, all of which are up by 15 percentage points.
DETAIL FOCUS, MORE NEEDED
The new Index also showed that Ermenegildo Zegna has become the first luxury brand to publish a detailed list of its suppliers and overall, 40% of brands are publishing a list of their first-tier manufacturers, up from 35% in 2019. But only 7% are publishing some of their raw materials suppliers, up from 5% last year.
Global Policy Director and report author Sarah Ditty said: “While we are seeing notable progress made on transparency, there is still much more fashion brands can do to provide credible and comprehensive data that enables consumers to make better decisions, unions and NGOs to help brands do better for workers and the living planet, and any other stakeholders to drive further progress.”
“More than half of the brands reviewed scored 20% or less, showing that there is still a long way to go towards transparency among the world’s largest fashion brands and retailers. Each year we explore a few key issues in deeper detail. This year we have chosen to focus on Conditions, Consumption, Composition and Climate as our spotlight issues, and the average score in this section is just 15%.”
And she added that since the Covid-19 pandemic began “we have seen the devastating impact of brands’ buying practices, such as cancelled orders and delayed payments, on some of the most vulnerable workers in the supply chain. The vast majority of these workers lack social protection systems and have no savings to fall back on due to the low wages they continue to earn making clothes for some of the world’s most profitable companies. This pandemic proves exactly why transparency in the fashion industry is so vital and why we cannot afford to return to business as usual.”
The current Index showed that only 6% of brands disclose a policy to pay suppliers within a maximum of 60 days and just 2% publish the percentage of orders with on-time payment to suppliers, according to agreed terms. And the report said that “only 15% of brands publish a responsible exit strategy which details the progressive steps they take when they stop working with a supplier, rather than taking a cut-and-run approach. Just 2% of brands disclose the percentage above the minimum wage which workers are paid within their supply chain and only Patagonia reveals data on the number of workers in their supply chain who receive a living wage.”