The fashion industry has faced many criticisms lately. These include its role in environmental pollution, often questionable and unethical labour conditions for factory workers and its contribution to the throwaway culture of fast fashion. For the fashion industry to really achieve effective and sustainable change, brands need to embrace compliance as an essential tool.
Compliance is the process of conforming to recognised standards across the industry, including in work conditions, garment quality, environmental impacts and human rights. It’s vital that fashion brands take their compliance to regulations and laws seriously; both to ensure sustainable and safe production methods, safe labour conditions for workers, but also to mitigate risk to their brand and future production capabilities. Failure to be compliant can have disastrous consequences across the entire chain. But in a global production industry, transparency and compliance are not necessarily simple to track.
Challenges for brands and manufacturers to track compliance
Brands and manufacturers operating in the modern-day fashion industry face a huge amount of constantly expanding compliance regulation and international laws. The very nature of a sprawling global supply chain makes it incredibly difficult for brands and manufacturers to track the individual components needed to be compliant effectively- there is no immediate connection between component parts. The fast fashion chain uses various manufacturers, contractors and subcontractors to supply everything including fabrics, dyes, sewing labour and embellishments, as well as involving multiple distributors and retailers across the globe; all with their own compliance regulations.
Different manufacturing and labour standards in different countries can be hard and time consuming to manage. Brands can also find it difficult to thoroughly measure and track the performance of a supplier, making it difficult for them to work with a reputable manufacturers who have been successfully audited, or end a non-compliant relationship. This difficulty in tracking compliance also makes it harder to be fully transparent with customers. Failing to give customers clear information will make it harder for them to embrace and really understand sustainability in fashion, potentially reducing the speed at which things will change.
How fashion brands can achieve full global compliance
For brands to achieve sustainability and full compliance, they need accurate, easy readable measurements and data across the entire production chain. This will allow brands to only work with responsible suppliers, as well as giving consumers accurate information to help change their attitudes towards sustainability in fashion. As well as data, subjectives comments and discussions between all involved in the supply chain can help to give a much more accurate assessment of compliance.
The Bomler Supply Chain Transparency Tool platform addresses the difficulties in tracking and measurement with its compliance dashboard. Here, brands are able to view compliance and audit data from suppliers, as well as being able to connect with suppliers and brands alike encourage better working practices. This helps relationships form across the supply chain with compliance at the centre, making it much easier for all parts of the chain to be transparent. It’s also a great tool for consumers, giving them reliable information on the compliance efforts and best practice of a fashion brand. By connecting consumers, brands and suppliers across the fashion chain with reliable information and transparency, sustainability and compliance will be much easier to achieve.