Being transparent about leather

Redwood Comment
Published:  20 April, 2016
Mike Redwood

This week is Fashion Revolution Week. As part of it, Fashion Revolution have launched a FashionTransparency Index. For this Fashion Revolution and Ethical Consumer partnered to publish the first edition which covers 40 of the biggest global fashion brands and ranks companies according to the level of transparency in their supply chain.

The average score for the 40 brands surveyed was 42% out of 100, with Levi Strauss & Co coming top of the class with 77%. Chanel came bottom with just 10%, closely followed by Forever 21, Claire’s Accessories, Hermes, Louis Vuitton and Prada, sending, they argued, a strong signal that luxury brands in particular have much more work to do.

In their press release they stated that while most companies have publicly available policies on environmental and labour standards there is a notable absence of long-term thinking in their sustainability strategies. Only 40% of companies appear to have a system in place to monitor compliance with labour standards, and to continually improve standards, with responsibility at the executive board level.

The researchers congratulated Levi Strauss & Co, H&M, Inditex (Zara, Pull & Bear, Bershka, etc.), Adidas and Primark as the most transparent global fashion companies surveyed. Major issues for many included lack of information about suppliers, about raw materials sources, how they monitored difficult issues, how they were helping to improve labour conditions and how they handle non-compliant factories.

In short, too many show willing but are not clear enough about their activities for consumers to be really confident.

This is mostly a textile industry survey but Fashion Revolution do throw into their supporting literature the standard reference to "Toxic Tanneries". Yet, given the disclosure and auditing now taking place in the leather industry, most footwear and fashion brands using leather should be able to meet the top criteria for their leather supply. For the vast majority of our major tanneries we can be confident that all these issues are already subject to a clearly defined policy. It is imperative that we are transparent about this as there is no better way to dispel these myths about "toxic tanners". And let us hope that by the survey in 2017 those hot spots which do still blight our industry will have been properly dealt with through proper enforcement of the laws, customer pressure and proper moral behaviour suited to our longstanding "brand leather".

Mike Redwood

20th April 2016

mike@internationalleathermaker.com

Follow Mike Redwood on twitter: @michaelredwood

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