Remake sees need for transparency in US fashion commercial practices

Remake, a US-based non-profit organization, sees an urgent need for transparency in business practices as they are the root cause of many of fashion’s impacts. According to its Remake Fashion Accountability Report 2021, 36 US companies, 60% of respondents, publish a list of Tier 1 suppliers. One fifth have invested in the communities in which they operate, taking into account race, class and gender.

While an increase in companies sharing level 1 and, to a lesser extent, level 2 and raw material suppliers is a positive development, beyond location data, there is a lack of information on wages, gender-based violence and others violations in apparel factories, Remake said in a press release.

Twenty-two companies (37%) either allowed trade associations to lobby on their behalf against the Garment Worker Protection Act, or they manufactured apparel in California and never passed the bill.

US-based Remake sees an urgent need for transparency in business practices as they are the root cause of many of fashion’s impacts. According to its Remake Fashion Accountability Report 2021, 36 US companies, 60% of respondents, publish a list of Tier 1 suppliers. One fifth have invested in the communities in which they operate, considering race, class and gender.

Twenty-one companies (35%) produce in Bangladesh and have not yet signed the International Agreement on Fire and Building Safety.

Remake is a community of fashion lovers, women’s rights defenders and environmentalists on a mission to change the industry’s harmful practices for people and the planet.

No fashion brand or retailer pays the majority of its workers a living wage. In most cases, companies don’t appear to be paying any of the workers, even in their Tier 1 factories, a living wage, Remake said in a press release.

“We haven’t seen real investment in worker-led welfare initiatives, such as subsidized transportation or housing. Instead, most corporate wellness programs included one-time “empowerment” training courses that are an exercise in greenwashing, “he said.

Only five companies (8%) could demonstrate that at least some of their clothing manufacturers earned a living wage.

Canceled contracts, high discounts and late payments during the pandemic have exacerbated the need to address the power asymmetry in the fashion supply chain. To date, most companies have a code of conduct for suppliers but not a code of conduct for buyers, which would require brands to comply with fairer contractual and pay terms, Remake said in its report.

Fourteen of the companies Remake surveyed (23%) never agreed to pay for orders during the pandemic, and 14 set a target to reduce all virgin polyester and other petroleum-based synthetics.

Remake applauds the adoption of science-based goals by most companies, but has seen few companies approach climate impacts with an intersectional lens. Additionally, there was little or no data showing progress on Scope 3 emissions, which is where most of the industry impact lies.

Additionally, there was a lack of incentives for suppliers to decarbonise and support companies’ climate goals. Thirty-three companies (55%) reported annual carbon emissions, including Scope 3 factory emissions.

Across the board there were limited incentives for executives to deliver on their sustainability commitments.

Most of the 60 fashion companies evaluated have now set science-based goals, but are perilously behind in achieving them, Remake said in its report. Only 55% of them publish their full Scope 1, 2 and 3 issues.

There was also a lack of reported financial incentives provided by fashion companies to their suppliers to invest in carbon-efficient technologies.

The data on where fashion is made is better, but the data on how fashion is made remains hidden. Companies were the strongest in factory disclosure, with 60 percent posting a tier 1 supplier list. Thirteen percent posted beyond tier 1 of their supply chain, such as textile factories.

Resale is on the rise, but circularity is not replacing the linear economy, the Remake report notes. Many businesses have now incorporated a resale program, and some have expanded the rental of fast moving goods into a variety of business sizes.

Sustainable small and medium-sized brands are consistently outpacing the fashion giants, and European brands are outpacing American corporations in human rights leadership.

Greenwashing is becoming the norm as big brands are co-opting buzzwords like sustainable fiber, worker empowerment, transparency, circularity and take-back initiatives, covering limited progress on living wages, social protections, overproduction and incredible fashion waste problem, notes the report.

Additionally, industry goals and metrics lack a sense of urgency and specificity, with limited comparable data available in the public domain.

Fiber2Fashion News Desk (DS)

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