Our recent Instagram poll indicated that fewer than half (47%) of responders knew what their clothes were made from, despite the vast majority (95%) saying they cared. Why the disparity? While people just might not think to check, it is also a result of many brands making it difficult to know where, how, and from what their clothes are made. This is where supply chain transparency comes in.
A supply chain is the network between a business and its suppliers to produce and distribute products to buyers. In other words, it is the way in which our beautiful hemp shirts go from being raw materials in Bajura, Nepal, to your very own closet! This has been a hot topic recently, as many big brands have come under fire for revelations of garment worker mistreatment or even refusing to disclose their supply chains entirely. As a company that grounds itself in ethical, sustainable practices, we thought we would elaborate on the importance of honesty and transparency in a brand’s supply chain and what role you, as a consumer, can play in that.
So, what does transparency really mean in practice? Research scientist and director of MIT Sustainable Supply Chains, Alexis Bateman, suggests that the two fundamental elements of supply chain transparency are visibility and disclosure. This means identifying and collecting accurate data from every connection in the supply chain and communicating that information in detail to partners and customers.
Being conscious of your clothing choices includes digging deeper into what goes on behind the scenes, even with brands who claim to care about the environment. Don’t be fooled by ‘greenwashing’ – defined as the “practice of companies launching adverts, campaigns, products etc. under the pretence that they are environmentally beneficial, often in contradiction to their environmental and sustainability record.” Many brands have ‘sustainable’ lines of clothing, which in reality are nothing more than a deceptive label. By jumping on the bandwagon of going green in the fashion industry, they are attempting to profit from consumer demand for more sustainable options – without doing the work of actually making it sustainable.
Consumers often underestimate the power of their purchases. By switching to brands whose values align with yours, it is a blatant message to others that you will not accept their unethical choices. Speaking with your money is as important as speaking out with your voice. What’s more, increased supply chain transparency is not just beneficial for worker conditions or consumers’ moral conscience, but companies engaging with supply chain transparency can benefit from increased trust from consumers, better reputations, and sometimes even higher sales. We call that a win-win!
In an ideal world, all goods should be safe for consumers, responsibly sourced, ethically made, and sustainable for the entirety of the production process. Supply chain transparency is a moral statement, a clear indication that a brand has nothing to hide and actively wants to do right by its workers. Of course, it is difficult to collect data at every stage of the supply chain and have complete transparency. That should not be an excuse for opaque production processes, but rather allow an understanding of the time, effort and communication it takes for businesses just beginning to undertake the challenge of making their establishment more transparent. Investing in supply chain transparency reduces risks and facilitates disruption management, and certainly pays off (for everyone) in the long run.
Now, time to put our money where our mouth is! Here is a link detailing where our materials come from, who makes our products, where and how they are transported, and how we manage our packaging. We are proactively working to get certifications, such as GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard) and Fairtrade, in order to have external bodies verify our sustainability efforts. In addition, we are making great progress with a new, completely certified textile supplier and garment manufacturer, with an aim to complete a deal by the beginning of next year. Keep an eye out for an upcoming blog post with more details on our newest sustainability endeavours!
We know our workers, suppliers, partners, and staff, and we care deeply about keeping Pushaoo at its honest, human roots. That means being transparent and being responsible for everyone involved in creating the sustainable hemp Pushaoo products we know and love.