LONDON – UK fashion retailer River Island has agreed to make its supplier list public after coming under fire from Human Rights Watch and Clean Clothes Campaign. The NGOs initially targeted five brands in a campaign to pressure them to commit to disclose their supply chain information according to the minimum standards laid down in the Transparency Pledge by end of March 2020. The other four targets yet to sign are American Eagle Outfitter, Armani, Carrefour and Urban Outfitters.
The Transparency Pledge was launched in 2017 by a coalition of nine trade unions and labour rights organisations and has been further built upon in two reports in 2017 and 2019. After more than three years of outreach to apparel companies by the coalition members, River Island became the 40th company to sign the Pledge.
“Many other companies have shied away from signing but have in response to the outreach nevertheless taken considerable steps to become more transparent,” claimed a statement from Clean Clothes.
River Island has committed to uploading a list of its approved factories by end of March and updating this list every six months. The company commented: “This is an important step in driving greater transparency in the fashion industry, in order to ensure fair and safe working conditions in factories worldwide. It also enables industry collaboration to prevent serious global issues such as modern slavery.”
Clean Clothes added: “Transparency is only a means to improve labour conditions in the garment industry rather than an end in itself, but is nevertheless of great importance to allow for better monitoring of working conditions in supply chains and access to remedy for workers.”
Six UK garment and footwear companies have now signed the Transparency Pledge. Besides River Island, the UK signatories are ASOS, Clark’s, New Look, Next and Pentland brands.
Clean Clothes Campaign says many UK brands, including Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s and Arcadia (Topshop), are close to meeting the Pledge standard and “could easily take the last step.”
Other UK companies, including Sports Direct, Boohoo, and Missguided have thus far refused to disclose any factory information.