On the fourth anniversary of the Rana Plaza collapse that claimed over 1,100 lives, a report on transparency by Fashion Revolution shows how little has changed. It found that while many brands are publishing their social and environmental values, no brand of the 100 surveyed scored higher than 50 percent on the NGO’s Fashion Transparency Index. Gap, Inc. brands had some of the highest overall scores on sustainability, living wages, and working conditions, along with Adidas. However, many high-end labels floundered.
The goal was to understand which brands knew who was making their clothes (and how they were compensated) and were willing to disclose that information to the public.
The report evaluated the transparency level of 100 top fashion brands, from Chanel to Costco, through questionnaires filled out by the companies and direct research done by the NGO. The findings were then scored out of 250 possible points.
The brands earned points for five categories: policy and commitments, governance, traceability, know, show and fix, and spotlight issues. The average overall score was 49 out of 250, or 19.6 percent. Among the highest scoring were Banana Republic and H&M. The lowest included Dior, Chanel, and Forever 21. Zara, the enfant terrible of fast fashion, scored 36 percent.
The data show a trend toward sustainable lip service. The report published that 34 of the 100 brands “have made public commitments to paying living wage to workers in the supply chain, but only four (H&M, Marks & Spencer, New Look, and Puma) are reporting progress on this.” Scoring over 50 percent, which no brand did, would require the brand to map “social and environmental impacts into their financial business model.” The report’s analysis emphasizes the need to follow through on promises. It reads, “While we are seeing brands begin to publish more about their social and environmental efforts, which is welcome and necessary, there is still much crucial information about the practices of the fashion industry that remains concealed, particularly when it comes to brands’ tangible impact on the lives of workers in the supply chain and on the environment.”