Will fashion ever be fully transparent? Styelle opens the conversation on transparency in the digital age
Transparency in the fashion industry seems to come hand in hand with sustainable and ethical movements. With tactics such as greenwashing or giving no consumers any insight at all, now more than ever customers need to make the effort to be conscious shoppers. But then comes the question of why we cannot shop with the knowledge of how our garments were produced, is it because we would be horrified? Here at Styelle Swim, we are always honest with our consumers, through educating ourselves on sustainable practices to the working conditions of our artisans (that our Founder Charys even checks up on herself) so much care goes into each aspect of the process.
Fashion Revolution recently released its annual Fashion Transparency Index for 2023 and the results are truly eye-opening. This report ranks 250 of the world’s biggest fashion brands entirely based on their public disclosure on everything from environmental policies and impact to supply chains and human rights.
So, let’s break down those crucial findings so we can be more conscious consumers and educate ourselves. When it came to supply chain traceability it was shown that for the first time ever more than half of the top fashion houses disclosed their ‘first tier supplier lists’ however the 45% of brands that did not offer any transparency within the traceability of their supply chains all scored 0-1% overall! This means the just below half that did not disclose truly did not disclose anything!
When looking at waste and overproduction the 2023 Fashion Transparency Index Report showed us that ‘88% of major fashion brands do not disclose their annual production volume’ leading us to imagine the mass amount of scale and the reality of overproduction and overconsumption of the fashion industry is still promoting. Scary right? To make it even worse, they also discovered that a shocking 99% of these fashion brands do not even disclose any commitment to reducing the production of new items. Meaning we can sadly expect to see no change there.
The Business of Fashion State of 2023 Report predicted that tackling greenwashing would be an issue the industry would continue to fight against this year, and they weren’t wrong. Stating that brands need to make credible changes to avoid this, while the report shows the disappointing reality that we face in the fashion industry when it comes to meaningful and trustworthy branding and messaging for ethical and social impacts.
While Vogue Business recently reported how luxury fashion is leading the way for transparency but industry-wide progress is still disturbingly low. While many big fashion labels have led to ‘greenhushing’ Vogue Business also reports due to fear of backlash, further supporting the Fashion Revolution’s annual report findings that the industry is not entirely transparent at all.
The overall findings of the 2023 Index share that when it comes to the climate crisis (I repeat crisis) 94% of these major labels (that should be paving the way as major fashion brands) are still not transparent on what fuel they use in manufacturing their clothes. Which instantly is not good news with many, many fuels being incredibly harmful to the environment. While only 2 out of 250 have committed to de-growth, It is truly terrifying that these giant retailers and fashion brands are taking realm on the industry when we truly need to slow down as a fashion community and stop overconsumption.
When it came to living wages for their factory workers in their supply chains, the report showcased that an appalling 1% of these huge fashion brands share with us the number of their workers being paid a living wage. These shocking findings further imply the absolute need for transparency and ethical production, just as we action here at Styelle Swim, paying our workers fairly is the bare minimum a brand can do yet these huge retailers do not even share this with us.
When it comes to sourcing fabrics, Fashion Revolution found that in 2023 51% of these brands publish important targets on sustainable materials, while only 44% of these actually define what sustainable is to them. While only 29% overall disclose a breakdown of the fibers sourced. When did it become normal to over-consume without this crucial knowledge? Greenwashing can be a scary tactic for consumers who are trying to make a conscious effort to shop better.
How can we use these incredible findings from the Fashion Revolution? Educate and inform ourselves of these giant leaders in the fashion industry to share our knowledge and activism. At what cost are some of our garments made? Socially? Ethically? Sustainably? We need to remind ourselves and society that this is not a normal way to shop and live.
Here at Styelle Swim, we are much more than a swimwear company, we aim to educate you on the harsh realities, be honest with you about the reality of trying to run an ethical and sustainable company in this climate and share with you how our garments are made and our meaningful choices to give you a better purchase decision. It is incredibly saddening to see these recent results in the year of 2023, it is clear we don’t seem to be improving as an industry on transparency for our consumers especially those major retailers dominating the industry who have the power to drive change. Do you think the fashion industry will ever be truly transparent?