What are traceability and transparency, and why are they so crucial for sustainable fashion? Over the years, these two concepts have continuously gained more value, especially after big scandals involving numerous brands, and have become an absolute must for consumers who want to make more conscious choices, as well as a law in some countries such as France and Germany.
Social problems in the fashion industry called for greater traceability and transparency
Two events mainly brought to light the social problems of the fashion industry and caused a strong reaction in consumers. The first dates back to the ‘90s, when the news about famous sports brands making children sew their products was shared with the public, and the second to 2013, when the collapse of the Rana Plaza textile mill in Bangladesh made people discover how subcontractors in developing countries were actually treated by some luxury brands.
During the most recent years, the importance of greater traceability and transparency in the fashion industry is hence underlined every time sustainability is addressed, but do we really know what they are?
What is traceability?
Traceability means knowing what a product went through before being in consumers’ hands. A good can be considered traced when it is possible to put together its entire life cycle, from the origin of its raw materials to every single production step and the final transfer to clients. Traceability needs an active collaboration among all the partners along the supply chain.
What is transparency?
Transparency is the traceability next step and concerns the distribution of brand information about its supply chain. Every stage should be traceable, and the obtained data should be available to all the stakeholders, final consumers included, so they can be aware of the whole life cycle of the garments they buy: geographic location, raw materials, labor and relative cost, manufacturing and packaging processes, production volumes, greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution.
What are the advantages of traceability and transparency, according to Unece?
Traceability and transparency are strictly linked: without the first, the second cannot exist. According to Unece, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, traceability and transparency have many advantages for companies:
- consumers‘ trust, thanks to more available and precise information and an increased product safety
- reputational risk management, thanks to more effective communication about company sustainability and social responsibility
- more efficient management of resources and supply chain, thanks to cost savings from simplified and automated business processes and more informed and controlled use of resources
- better communication among business partners, thanks to a more complete and detailed information transfer
Candiani Denim works to improve its supply chain traceability and transparency and guarantee sustainable jeans
Achieving complete supply chain traceability and transparency could be difficult, especially for the biggest companies with thousands of suppliers. The fashion industry lacks reliable data about themes such as pollution and work conditions. Therefore, triggering a real change for a more sustainable and responsible sector is complex.
Candiani Denim continuously works to maximize the traceability and transparency of its supply chain and guarantee the production of sustainable jeans. Our verticalized structure allows us to directly control several stages of the production process (spinning, warping, dyeing, weaving, and finishing), which at least four suppliers usually perform.