Transparency in supply chains is vital to ensure that workers rights are respected.

The problem

Almost no fashion brand owns factories anymore. The business model is one of contracting out: a brand places an order at a supplier, who then often subcontracts this out even further.

Yet, when garment workers face problems, it is often the garment brands that can (and should) use their influence. Brands also recognize this; they have elaborate Codes of Conduct that should, in theory, make sure that no human rights violations occur. As we all know, this is far from the case. From poverty wages to unsafe factories to union busting, all kinds of violations are endemic within the global garment industry.

Therefore it is vital that workers, worker rights advocates and others have accurate information on what brand produces where.

Of course, transparency alone does not resolve in improved working conditions, higher wages or accountability. But transparency is a necessary precondition to effectively campaign for those other goals.

Consumers are also demanding answers; in a world that is ever more connected, they deserve an answer when they ask #WhoMadeMyClothes


What we do

CCC has been advocating for more transparency for years. We join forces with other organisations, and lobby both brands and policy makers to take meaningful steps. Some of our activities:

  • Together with eight other partners, we form the Transparency Pledge Coalition. This coalition is pushing brands to commit to the Transparency Pledge, a minimum standard for supply chain disclosure.
  • We are on the board of the Open Apparel Registry, an open source tool which maps garment facilities worldwide.
  • We advocate for transparency to become a mandatory part of Multi Stakeholder Initiative membership requirements, and for any form of meaningful certification schemes.
  • We have directly campaigned on the streets, in front of high street stores.

With success! The narrative around transparency has changed. Only a few years ago, almost no brands disclosed their supply chain. Now, a large number of major brands do.

More work needs to be done. Some brands have made no effort at all, and the growing online marketplaces bring new challenges. Yet, under the UN guiding principles, all brands and retailers will have to do their due diligence, of which transparency is a necessary part.

Background

The garment and footwear industry stretches around the world. Clothes and shoes sold in stores in the US, Canada, Europe, and other parts of the world typically travel across the globe. They are cut and stitched in factories in Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America, or other regions. Factory workers in Bangladesh or Romania could have made clothes only weeks ago that consumers elsewhere are eagerly picking up.

When global supply chains are opaque, consumers often lack meaningful information about where their apparel was made. A T-shirt label might say “Made in China,” but in which of the country’s thousands of factories was this garment made? And under what conditions for workers?

In and of itself, knowing where a piece of clothing was made will not tell you under what circumstances. Yet it is a vital instrument for when human rights violations occur. Workers and worker rights advocates can determine much more quickly which brands produce there and start engaging these brands to rectify the situation. And of course knowing where these factories are in the first place is essential for any kind of meaningful improvement in building safety.

Latest news on transparent supply chains

Results: 9 Items

  • November 20, 2019

    Amazon takes transparency step

    Amazon took a useful first step toward transparency on 15 November 2019 by publicly disclosing on its website the names, addresses, and other details of over 1,000 facilities that produce Amazon-branded products, a broad coalition of human rights groups, labour rights organizations, and global unions said today. But the list is not easily accessible, sortable, or sufficiently specific to learn the type of products made in each of the listed facilities, limiting its value for consumers, workers, and labour advocates.

  • November 20, 2019

    How Inditex usurps the word ‘Respect’

    The fashion giant Inditex, which owns the brand Zara, presents itself as a transparent company that attaches the utmost importance to the people who produce its clothes. Exclusive investigation into the conditions in which one of its iconic hoodies was produced reveals what goes on behind the scenes: meagre wages, excessive hours, precarious contracts. The workers pay the price for the huge pressure to drive down prices that Inditex exerts on its suppliers in order to boost its handsome profits.

  • March 15, 2019

    Labour and human rights groups urge multi-stakeholder initiatives and business associations in the apparel sector to adopt transparency requirements

    In response to requests from trade unions, and other independent labour rights and human rights organizations, on February 27 the Fair Labor Association (FLA) voted to require its company affiliates to publicly disclose their supplier lists.

  • March 21, 2018

    Broad convening showcases growing momentum for transparency in the garment supply chain

    A meeting this week of actors involved in the labour movement and garment industry showed the increasing transparency efforts in the sector. The participants shared an assessment of the need to disclose supply chain information as a means to enhance corporate accountability of companies towards workers and consumers, to improve learning and due diligence within the sector and to empower workers in these companies’ supply chains.

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