The Fashion Transparency Index 2021 has concluded global fashion brands and retailers are not progressing fast enough and need to do more to share information on their supply chain, carbon emissions, ethics, living wages, production and water usage.
The overall average score across the 250 brands measured in 2021 was 23% which is the same score that was achieved in 2020.
The overall average score is based on 239 indicators across five key areas: Policies and commitments, governance, supply chain traceability, know, show & fix and spotlight issues. The spotlight issues for 2021 covered the Covid-19 response, gender and racial equality, sustainable sourcing and materials, overconsumption and business models, waste and circularity, water and chemicals and climate change and biodiversity.
This year’s index demonstrated that lots of improvement is needed in terms of supply chain transparency. Less than half of the brands taking part in the index (47%) disclosed their manufacturing facilities and a quarter of brands (27%) disclosed the wet processing facilities and spinning mills that lie deeper within their supply chains.
These figures are a small increase on 2020 where only 40% revealed their first-tier manufacturers and only 24% revealed information on their processing facilities.
Just over 10% of the 2021 brands shared information on their raw material suppliers (11%), but this was a small improvement on the 7% who disclosed this information in 2020.
In terms of carbon emissions, the fact many brands are not sharing information further down the supply chain makes it difficult to assess carbon emissions as up to 80% of the sector’s emissions occur at this point.
Only 26% of brands within the index published their annual carbon footprint at manufacturing level and just 17% disclosed emissions at raw material level. The raw material level is crucial because it is where the greatest environmental impact occurs during the lifecycle of a garment, according to a report by Global Fashion Agenda (GFA) and McKinsey.
In addition, only 18% of brands publish data on absolute energy reduction in the supply chain, which is essential for reducing apparel industry emissions.
Water is another critical issue for the fashion industry and 95% of brands did not disclose their annual water footprint at raw material level. While only 30% of brands disclosed their commitment to eliminating the use of hazardous chemicals.
The report explains major brands have a clear responsibility to look at their supply chain, identify human rights and environmental risks and impacts. By not sharing information on supply chains, exploitative, unsafe working conditions and environmental damage can take place without brands making any efforts to acknowledge or address these issues.
The authors of the index point out that as a first step brands and retailers need to understand and disclose their own supply chain to allow for greater traceability and transparency.
The environmental issue continues to be an urgent one for the global fashion industry. The authors of the index explain brands must show how they are reducing their environmental impacts by tracking this data across the whole supply chain and sharing it with stakeholders and members of the public moving forward.
The brands who scored the lowest overall in 2021 include: Belle, Big Bazaar – fbb, Elie Tahari, Jessica Simpson, KOOVS, Metersbonwe, Mexx, Youngor, Fashion Nova, Pepe Jeans, Semir, Tom Ford, Bilabong, Heilan Home, Quiksilver, Roxy, celio, Max Mara, New Yorker and Tory Burch.
The brands who scored the highest overall in 2021 include: OVS, H&M, The North Face, Timberland, C&A, Vans, Gildan, Esprit, United Colors of Benetton, calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, Van Heusen (PVH), Gucci, Kmart Australia and Target Australia.
Click here for more information on how Brazil’s fashion brands performed in the Fashion Transparency Index for Brazil.