The 2021 Edition of The Fashion Transparency Index analyses and ranks 250 of the world’s biggest fashion brands and retailers based on their public disclosure of human rights and environmental policies, practices and impacts, in their operations and in their supply chains. Policy & Commitments; Governance; Traceability; Know, show & fix; and Spotlight issues are the 5 major sections. In detailing, there are plenty of issues covered under these sections. It is important to mention here that the Index does not assess sustainability or ethics of major brands and retailers but measures transparency, meaning how much information is publicly disclosed about a brand’s supply chain and human rights and environmental policies, practices and impacts.
Majority of the brands are most transparent again this year with regard to policy and commitments. But not even a single brand scored overall above 80 per cent, while only one brand scored more than 70 per cent. The average score remained 23 per cent and at the same time what is more concerning is that 20 brands received a 0 score in this latest edition. Brands scoring between 0 and 5 per cent are disclosing nothing at all or a very limited number of policies, which tend to be related to the brand’s hiring practices or local community engagement activities.
OVS was the only brand which got 78 per cent score; it also scored highest (94 per cent) in policy & commitments section. Only six brands H&M, Timberland, The North Face, Vans, C&A and Gildan scored 61-70 per cent.
It is also interesting to see that the leading sportswear and shoe brands Nike, Reebok, adidas and Puma are not far behind compared to the above-mentioned 7 brands. These 3 brands scored 51-60 per cent. Puma, along with scoring 94 per cent in policy & commitments section, also received 85 per cent score in Governance section.
Well-known brands’ poor performance
Globally well-known brands Shein, Jockey, Pepe Jeans, DKNY, Dolce & Gabbana have overall 0-5 per cent score. Similarly Macy’s, Kmart, Chico’s are in the bracket of 6-10 per cent. Boohoo, Abercrombie & Fitch, Otto, Prada, Falabella, Matalan, Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, Versace, American Eagle, Kohl’s, Armani, TJ-Maxx, Guess, s.Oliver are also not much ahead and have scored 11-20 per cent.
Ralph Lauren, Nordstrom, El Corte Inglés, Amazon, JD Sports, John Lewis, The Warehouse, Mango, Walmart, Vero Moda, Jack & Jones, Columbia Sportswear, Kathmandu, Decathlon, Carrefour, Louis Vuitton, Muji are having a share of 21-30 per cent.
4 Indian companies
There are four Indian companies, including Reliance Trends, AJIO, which are a part of these 250 brands. Overall score of Reliance Trends and AJIO has been 7 per cent while Big Bazaar – fbb and KOOVS have scored 0 (see table for detail).
|Company||Policy & Commitments||Governance||Traceability||Know,show & fix||Spotlight|
Traceability is now on top priority, not only for all stakeholders of supply chain, but also for customers. And this Index also has detailed information on traceability. But it is also must to say here that transparency continues to be slow amongst major fashion brands.
In this regard, UGG surprisingly scores highest this year at 97 per cent followed by Gildan and then Zegna, OVS and Esprit, respectively. It means they publish detailed factory lists in the first tier as well as in some of their processing facilities and raw materials suppliers further down the chain. The Index also says that 19 brands that were reviewed in last year’s Index have since disclosed their first-tier manufacturers for the first time, including Boohoo, Carhartt, Carrefour, Desigual, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Dr Martens, Ermenegildo Zegna, Fendi, Foschini, Fossil, Gucci, JD Sports, LL Bean, Mango, MiuMiu, Nordstrom, Otto, Prada and UGG. It is particularly encouraging to see progress across different market segments including luxury, sportswear, footwear and accessories.
Both Kmart and Target Australia scored 56 per cent, which is a surge of 33 per cent from 2020 – thereby positioning both as two of the most improved brands in the world.
At the same time, it is also pertinent to mention that only 26 per cent of 250 of the world’s largest fashion brands and retailers disclose the processing facilities and textile mills in their supply chain. Similarly, only 21 per cent of the world’s largest fashion brands and retailers audit their suppliers beyond the first tier of the supply chain, including textile mills.
Tamil Nadu Alliance’s view
The Index also had a view of Tamil Nadu Alliance, a civil society forum representing over 100 grassroots organisations in Southern India, which focused on improving the conditions of young adolescent workers in the textile sector. The alliance is of the opinion that wages are a key issue in the state. There is currently only a legally mandated minimum wage for apprentice textile workers (Rs. 477 = US $ 6.53) and in reality, many experienced workers are paid less than half of this.
It further adds that forced overtime, restrictions on freedom of movement, lack of freedom of association and denial of access to statutory social protection benefits are widespread.