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AMSTERDAM – We often hear it claimed that the general public is increasingly interested in the question of ‘who made my clothes?’ But is this really the case? A fascinating new report shows that just 63 customers asked the world’s largest apparel retailer – Inditex – where their clothing was made over the course of a 12-month period. To place this figure in context, Inditex has net revenues of more than €25bn across 7,200 stores in 93 markets worldwide … which equates to 0.008 enquiries about product origins per store.

This remarkable figure is provided by Clean Clothes Campaign which has taken the unprecedented step of making apparel brand answers to its annual wage survey completely open to the public. This fascinating 300-page document provides a unique insight into how brands view the notion of potentially paying living wages in global supply chains. Moreover, it illustrates the vastly different degree to which brands are cooperating – or not as the case may be – with important industry stakeholders on this increasingly topical issue.

Among notable findings from the report:

  • G-Star aims to roll-out a living wage roadmap by the end of 2019
  • Inditex customers are only informed about where their garments are made on request as the company does not publicly list suppliers. In this regard, most up to date figures show that in 2017, just 63 customer queries were answered regarding the source of our products.
  • Tchibo believes businesses which attempt to improve wages for workers unilaterally are being placed at an uncompetitive advantage versus those who do nothing or industry ‘laggards’.
  • Most leading brands now believe industry-wide collective bargaining agreements via ACT – an Industriall Global Union-led initiative – are the only realistic way to boost supply chain wages.
  • Some brands are still being unnecessarily opaque on this issue. Fruit of the Loom said it would require more than THREE MONTHS to answer a few questions about supply chain wages. The likes of Hugo Boss refused to engage, along with Levi’s and Zalando
  • Gucci is the only brand paying living wages in supply chains … at its Italian suppliers.
  • Of 20 brands questioned by Clean Clothes, 19 received the lowest possible grade in the report
  • Whilst 85 per cent of brands had some commitment to ensuring wages were enough to support workers’ basic needs, the report claims no brand was putting this into practice for any worker in countries where the vast majority of clothing is produced.
  • The report covers Adidas, Amazon, C&A, Decathlon, Fast Retailing, Fruit of the Loom, GAP, G-Star RAW, Gucci, H&M, Hugo Boss, Inditex, Levi Strauss & Co., Nike, Primark, Puma, PVH, Tchibo, Under Armour, and Zalando.

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