Garment worker in Cambodia Photo credit: Claudio Montesano Castillas

Garment worker in Cambodia Photo credit: Claudio Montesano Castillas

A report published by Fashion Revolution and Ethical Consumer in April to mark the start of Fashion Revolution Week (18-24 April), and three years after the Rana Plaza collapse, has revealed low levels of transparency among many of the global fashion brands.

The inaugural Fashion Transparency Index surveyed 40 brands, with Levi Strauss & Co, H&M, Inditex, Adidas and Primark ranked as the most transparent companies in the report. Levi Strauss & Co came out top with a score of 77 out of 100, while Chanel came bottom with just 10/100. Chanel was closely followed by Forever 21, Claire’s Accessories, Hermes, Louis Vuitton and Prada.

The research revealed 40% of the companies do not appear to have a system in place to monitor compliance with labour standards. Just five of the companies – Adidas, H&M, Levi Strauss & Co and Nike – publish a list of all or the vast majority of their Cut-Make-Trim (CMT) suppliers, while 60% appear to be tracking their first-tier CMT suppliers but don’t publicly publish this information. Only two, Adidas and H&M, publish details of their second-tier suppliers – that is, fabric and yarn mill or subcontractors.

Half of the companies surveyed appear to have nothing in place to monitor where raw materials come from or, if they do, this information is not shared publicly.

Carry Somers, co-founder of Fashion Revolution, said: “The public do not have enough information about where and how their clothes are made. Shoppers have the right to know that their money is not supporting exploitation, human rights abuses and environment destruction. It was recently reported that Islamic State has taken over three-quarters of the cotton fields in Syria. How do we as consumers know that we aren’t supporting ISIS or slave labour with the next cotton garment we buy? 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.”

Next year, the Fashion Transparency Index is aiming to include 100 fashion brands and retailers who have at least a £36 million annual turnover.