Clothing brands and retailers should open up about supply chains before legislative pressure kicks in

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Clothing brands that remain guarded when it comes to transparency are risking their survival long term, as calls for the introduction of policy requiring firms to disclose information on supply chains continue to intensify. Companies should start taking the necessary steps to improve their sustainability performance and to track their supply chains, addressing any discrepancies, so they are not caught short when legislation comes into play, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Hannah Abdulla, Apparel Correspondent at GlobalData, comments: “Stakeholders ranging from non-governmental organisations to consumers are wanting evidence from brands on everything from how fairly the cotton farmers at the very end of supply chains are paid, to what the brand is doing to minimise carbon emissions.

“Globally, governments are being pressured to push firms to be more accountable for their environmental and social impacts. Many countries are now mulling legislation that will force brands to disclose that information.”

Under the EU Commission’s Circularity Action Plan, for example, clothing and textile manufacturers and importers face strict environmental rules aimed at cleaning up production.

Apparel brands are also backing the call, with Asos pushing for the implementation of mandatory human rights due diligence legislation in the UK to strengthen the 2015 Modern Slavery Act, arguing that forcing brands to disclose their actions and holding them to account would drive up standards in the sector and would bring the country in line with others that have legislated on the same.

Abdulla continues: “Voluntary initiatives are a good starting point and companies should use these to direct their efforts, so when policy is eventually introduced, the changes they need to apply to supply chains will not feel so drastic.

“They are helpful in seeing where your brand measures up against others so you can identify areas for improvement. However, voluntary measures will undoubtedly carry more weight if supported by legislation that holds brands accountable for their actions. It’s a call that is trending heavily at the moment and it’s key that brands get a step ahead, fix up supply chains and be open about them.”

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