Last week, River Island, a United Kingdom fashion brand, signed onto a global effort to be more transparent about the factories that produce its products.
In December 2019, Human Rights Watch, together with the Clean Clothes Campaign, launched a campaign that asked apparel brands to #GoTransparent and sign the Transparency Pledge. River Island changed its stance on transparency, joining 39 other companies that have aligned with the Transparency Pledge. The pledge was created in 2016 by a coalition of nine organizations and global unions, including Human Rights Watch, in an effort to set supply chain disclosure standards.
In an email to Human Rights Watch, River Island said that signing the Transparency Pledge was “an important step … to ensure fair and safe working conditions in factories worldwide” and “enables industry collaboration to prevent serious global issues such as Modern Slavery.”
River Island’s decision to join the transparency movement is a boost for the rights of apparel workers. Over the past few years, consumers have sent a clear and consistent message to apparel brands: they want and expect transparency. When companies publicly disclose the list of factories where their products are made, they show they know their supply chain. And public disclosure helps protect workers. When workers know which brands they are producing clothing for, they know whom they can complain to in case of workplace abuses.
Consumers want to know that the brands they are buying clothing from are thinking about the human rights implications of their business practices. Beyond transparency, consumers want to know that the workers producing their clothes have access to redress and other basic rights. Concerned consumers can push brands to go even further in adopting ethical business practices.
Consumers should call on companies like American Eagle Outfitters, Armani, Carrefour, and URBN to join the global transparency movement and follow in the footsteps of River Island.