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finally, some transparency on the big brands behaving ethically (or not)

Fashion Revolution’s Transparency Index report is helping to keep brands accountable — evidently, there's a long way to go.

by Briony Wright
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01 May 2017, 9:15am

Image via fashionrevolution.org

In an industry as notoriously cutthroat as fashion, the culture of secrecy around production habits is particularly dangerous. The temptation to cut corners, exploit markets and underpay workers in order to make a profit is strong, especially in the absence of industry-wide accountability. Too often labels implement improvements only when their hand is forced as a result of public outcry, but thanks to organisations like Fashion Revolution, customers are being empowered with information about how and where their clothes were made. 

Fashion Revolution Week is an initiative started by this organisation that recognises the anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh, which killed 1,138 workers on April 24th. To coincide with this week, the Fashion Revolution have released a Transparency Index, a comprehensive report of the world's largest and richest brands and retailers, which ranks them according to how openly they disclose their social and environmental policies, practices and impact.

The report included only brands with an annual turnover of more than $1.2 billion, all of whom volunteered to participate. Surprisingly, no company scored over 50% — quite disheartening. The report exposed the "lack of consistent standards for reporting on social and environmental issues" as well as the fact that this information is very difficult to find. With most brands falling into the 11% to 20% bracket, take a look at how your favourite brands performed below. Keep in mind, low scores are not to say their practices aren't ethical, just that they are not transparent. 

A number of giant chains like H&M and Gap as well as sportswear giants like Adidas, Puma and Reebok scored the highest, in the 41% to 50% group. After that, came the 31% to 40% brand: Zara, Nike, ASOS, Converse and Levi Strauss & Co. The further down the list we go, the most secretive luxury brands emerge. A mix of chain stores and luxury labels including Gucci, YSL, Calvin Klein and Topshop scored in the 21% to 30% range, and in the lowest bracket of all (0% to 20%) we find some of the world's most coveted luxury brands: Chanel, Dior and Prada.