#GoTransparent: Demand to Know Who Made Your Clothes
Have you ever shopped at Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, Walmart, Primark, or Armani? Do you know how to find out exactly where those clothes were made, and under what conditions? Neither do we!
We often lack meaningful information about where our clothes and shoes were made. A T-shirt label might say “Made in China,” but in which of the country’s thousands of factories was it made? What were the working conditions of the workers—mostly women—in these factories?
The need for information about factories manufacturing for global brands has become painfully clear in recent years through deadly garment factory catastrophes. The collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh on April 24, 2013 killed over 1,100 garment workers and injured more than 2,000. In the year before the collapse, two factory fires—one in Pakistan’s Ali Enterprises factory and another in Bangladesh’s Tazreen Fashions factory—killed more than 350 workers and left many others with serious disabilities.
When these tragedies occurred, virtually no public information was available about the brands that were sourcing from these factories. The only way to hold these apparel companies accountable was to interview survivors and rummage through the rubble to find brand labels.
Four years have passed since these tragedies. It’s time for industry-wide transparency. As a result of civil society pressure, over the past decade a growing number of global apparel companies have published information about factories that manufacture their branded products. But too many remain in the shadows.
Demanding that apparel companies publish their supplier factory information could help workers by allowing unions and other labor advocates to alert brands to labor abuses in these factories. Knowing the multitude of brands that a factory produces for can help brands co-operate on solutions to labor rights problems.
The new “Transparency Pledge” for apparel and footwear brands aims to create a level playing field in the garment industry. Brands that join the pledge will publish key information about their supplier factories. Developed by a civil society coalition, the Transparency Pledge is a crucial starting point for shedding light on who made your clothes. You can read more about the Transparency Pledge and the civil society coalition that developed it in a new report, Follow the Thread.
Coalition members wrote to more than 70 apparel companies, asking them to agree to implement a Transparency Pledge and publish information about factories where their brands are produced.
The “Follow the Thread” Campaign is asking Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, Walmart, Primark, and Armani to commit to the Transparency Pledge and implement it by December 31, 2017. This is the first step in making the industry more transparent and fostering an environment of accountability and protection of human rights of workers.
The Follow the Thread Campaign is a coalition consisting of Human Rights Watch, Clean Clothes Campaign and International Labor Rights Forum.
- Forever 21
- Urban Outfitters
Transparency in supply chains of the garment industry helps to promote workers’ rights. First, local unions and civil society organizations can more swiftly alert brand officials to worker rights concerns in their supply chains; second, they can also help the company keep track of unauthorized units engaged in production without approval.
The move toward transparency in this area began more than a decade ago, when many universities in the United States started requiring such disclosures by companies that produce collegiate logo apparel. Since then a growing number of apparel companies have published the names and addresses of their supplier factories. But too many companies, and the factories that make their clothes, remain in the shadows.
There is a need for industry-wide minimum standards for publishing supply chain information. The Transparency Pledge, endorsed by a global civil society coalition, outlines a standard approach for transparency in the garment industry. The Transparency Pledge is a floor. The Follow the Thread report provides useful information on additional actions global apparel companies should take beyond the Pledge and includes tips on how to publish supplier factory information.
A number of apparel companies have committed to implementing the Transparency Pledge. These are adidas, ASICS, C&A, Clarks, Cotton On Group, Esprit, G-Star RAW, H&M, Levi’s, Lindex, New Look, Next, Nike, Patagonia, and the Pentland Group.
I respectfully request you to commit to the Transparency Pledge and implement it by December 31, 2017.
The Apparel and Footwear Supply Chain Transparency Pledge
(“The Transparency Pledge”)
This Transparency Pledge helps demonstrate apparel and footwear companies’ commitment towards greater transparency in their manufacturing supply chain.
Transparency of a company’s manufacturing supply chain better enables a company to collaborate with civil society in identifying, assessing, and avoiding actual or potential adverse human rights impacts. This is a critical step that strengthens a company’s human rights due diligence.
Each company participating in this Transparency Pledge commits to taking at least the following steps by December 31, 2017.
Publish Manufacturing Sites
The company will publish on its website on a regular basis (such as twice a year) a list naming all sites that manufacture its products. The list should provide the following information in English:
1. The full name of all authorized production units and processing facilities.
2. The site addresses.
3. The parent company of the business at the site.
4. Type of products made.
5. Worker numbers at each site.
Companies will publish the above information in a spreadsheet or other searchable format.
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