H&M tops 2020 fashion transparency index as 10 brands score zero

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H&M Group has been named number one out of 250 fashion brands ranked in terms of how much information they disclose about their suppliers, supply chain policies and practices, and social and environmental impact by campaign group Fashion Revolution.

The Fashion Transparency Index 2020 reviews and ranks 250 of the biggest global fashion and apparel brands and retailers according to how much information they disclose about different aspects such as energy and carbon emissions, water usage and equal pay.

Carry Somers, co founder of Fashion Revolution commented on why transparency in the fashion industry is important by stating: “The hidden and forgotten dwell in the
shadows of our clothes.”

H&M is the highest scoring brand this year at 73%, followed by C&A at 70%, Adidas and Reebok at 69%, Esprit at 64% and Marks & Spencer tied with Patagonia at 60%.

The higher the percentage, the more likely the business is to publish detailed information on their practice such as supplier lists, due diligence processes and remediation findings.

Gucci was the highest scoring luxury brand at 48%, up from 40% in 2019.

Hanna Hallin, Global Strategy Lead for Transparency at H&M Group, commented on the results: “It is a great honour to be ranked as number one in the Fashion Transparency Index 2020 and a great recognition of our work.

“We always aim to be as transparent as possible in our progress towards a more sustainable fashion future, as well as the challenges ahead, in order to keep driving industry change.

“We are committed to continue taking steps for greater transparency so customers can make informed decisions and drive a positive impact in the industry through our extensive work to become fully circular and climate positive, while being a fair and equal company.”

The lowest-placed brands in the Index, which all scored zero, were Tom Ford, Pepe Jeans, Mexx, Bally, Belle, Elie Tahari, Heilan Home, Jessica Simpson (the pop singer’s own brand), Max Mara and Youngor.

Brands scoring between 0-5% are disclosing nothing at all or a very limited number of
policies, which tend to be related to the brand’s hiring practices or local community engagement activities.

The Index comprises 220 indicators covering a wide range of social and environmental topics such as biodiversity, chemicals, climate, forced labour, gender equality, living wages, supplier disclosure, waste and recycling among others.

The average score for all 250 brands and retailers is 23% out of 250 possible points, showing that the world’s biggest brands have a long way to go towards transparency.

Brands are not evaluated by ethical or sustainability performance but rather how much information they disclose publicly about their human rights and environmental policies, practices and impacts.

This information enables others (consumers, investors, lawmakers, journalists, NGOs, trade unions, workers themselves) to hold brands to account.

The majority of brands and retailers lack transparency on social and environmental issues, as more than half of brands (54%) scored 20% or less.

Despite this, there are fewer low-scoring brands this year compared to last year.

For example, 28% of brands score 10% or less in 2020, compared to 36% of brands in 2019.

Similar themes have been echoed by UK high streets this week as John Lewis launches ‘the most sustainable women’s’ wear offering the company has ever created’ today.

A collaboration with the contemporary fashion brand Mother of Pearl, the partners state that every aspect of design and manufacturing process, such as fabric sourcing and sampling, has all been delivered via the most sustainable route available.

The Fashion Transparency Index 2020 can be read here