Reprinted from The Washington Post by Elizabeth Winkler on August 24, 2017.
“… Fashion companies’ websites are a rhetorical jungle of vague, virtuous-sounding self-description,” writes Elizabeth Winkler in The Washington Post. “As they boast of ‘ethical sourcing’ and ‘positive impact,’ the companies seek to reassure consumers and investors of brands’ commitments to ‘transparency’ and ‘sustainability’ — two of the most fashionable buzzwords in modern marketing. Some flaunt complex graphics purporting to lay bare their global supply chains. Others display undecipherable legends of icons signifying their sustainable attributes.
“Apparel makers lack a common definition of what constitutes ‘sustainability,’ ‘transparency’ or ‘ethical sourcing.’ And in the absence of a uniform standard, each company can assess its ethical record independently and is free to give themselves all the accolades they like. But that rewards clever marketing and storytelling, not actual monitoring and accountability — and leaves consumers without any way of discerning between brands that meet high labor standards and those that only talk about it.
“As a recent report by the Human Rights Watch explains, supply chain transparency practices vary immensely among apparel companies. Many pick and choose what details to publish about their labor and human rights practices. Others refuse to publish supplier factory information at all. …