The Importance Of Transparency

by: Rosie Dalton | 6 months ago | Features

Image: via one of our transparent labels, Kowtow

Transparency is key when it comes to understanding how our clothes are made. It refers to the traceability of our garments, from the clothing producer right down to the raw materials. So, it is essential for decoding complex fashion supply chains.

The fashion industry supply chain is one of the most inherently complex in the world. Which is why it has traditionally been easy for ethically dubious brands to obscure certain facts about how their clothes are made. This is problematic from a consumer standpoint, but also for the brands themselves.

“Perhaps just as shocking as the events that transpired,” Business of Fashion wrote of the fatal Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh, “was that many of these brands hadn't even the slightest clue that their own production was taking place in that facility. Their auditing system failed. They just didn't know.”

Patagonia’s VP of Environmental Initiatives, Rick Ridgeway touches on this same issue, when discussing how the brand found slavery in its supply chain. “It confirmed two really important things for us,” Ridgeway told Well Made Clothes. “Firstly that, in terms of relationships within the supply chain, the model that works best is the model of equal partnership. And secondly, that transparency should be defined as a willingness and openness to communicate to all of your stakeholders – that includes, foremost, the public – what we’re doing that’s good; what we’re doing that’s bad and what we’re doing to fix it.”

This, in a nutshell, is what transparency is all about. It is a commitment to opening up honest lines of communication between brands and customers about how their clothes are made, what they are made from and by whom. And, according to Business of Fashion’s State of Fashion Report 2019, radical transparency is one of the top ten trends currently shaping the fashion industry. 

“Fashion companies must come to terms with the fact that a more distrusting consumer expects full transparency across the value chain,” BoF writes in the report. “Given the need to regain that trust, fashion players cannot afford not to examine longstanding practices across their businesses.”

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