Every year, Fashion Revolution releases its Fashion Transparency Report to summarise the social and environmental impact of some of the fashion industry's biggest players. The 2023 report reveals a handful of historic highs and improvements industry-wide, but it also reveals some of the most disappointing lows too.
Fashion doesn’t have to be this way. Fashion can be a force for good. Fashion can change the world. Good, ethical, sustainable, circular and slow fashion can solve the problems we’ve created with fast fashion.
Here's a snap shot of the ugliest truths from this year's report...
94% of brands won’t reveal what fossil fuels are being used in their supply chain, partly because they don't know, and partly because they do - and they're not proud of it. Coal-powered fashion manufacturing facilities are a big environmental threat, so it's no wonder they want to keep it under wraps.
Only 7% of major fashion brands disclose their waste water test results, and it's because the other 93% don't want this information leaking. The dyeing of fast fashion is a water-intensive and chemical-intensive process, and run off water has a monumental impact on our biodiversity and marine life. The 93% of brands who don't disclose their waste water test results - know that what they're dyeing and what they're doing, isn't good.
Reebok, Billabong, Roxy and Quiksilver refused to be reviewed this year, and that's an easy one to work out why.
And just 1% of workers in major fashion brands are being paid a living wage, which is the worst reveal of the entire report.
There are of course a few wins for the fashion industry and yes, a few things have changed, but when it comes to major fashion brands and the big players who pump most of the fashion out that most of us buy, there’s a long way to go.
So how do we fix it? What do we do? What’s the positive spin on all this doom and gloom?
If you’re running an ethical, sustainable, circular or slow fashion business, you have to lead by example. You have a powerful opportunity to use fashion as a force for good. Make sustainable business choices and pay ethical wages. Slow down and be conscious about what you design and what you make. Think collectively and think about the bigger picture, not just the sales here and now, because if we're going to have a shred of an industry or an earth to live on fifty years from now - the future of fashion has to be sustainable.
Building a sustainable fashion business that makes the world a better place and makes you money at the same time is entirely doable. Profit and purpose can exist together. Fashion isn’t bad, fast fashion is bad.
If you want to learn more about using your fashion business as a force for good, work with me. I'll show you how!