A TRANSPARENT LOOK AT SUSTAINABLE TRANSPARENCY
The fashion industry has long been recognized for its ability to reinvent itself. What started as handmade, homemade apparel, transitioned to commodification over the past hundreds of years. While styles continued to change with each decade, the antiquated business model and secrecy surrounding each brand remained. It was not until recently that brands, driven by consumer demand, acknowledged the need for change. They pledged to become more sustainable and to prove that to the world through transparency.
WHAT IS TRANSPARENCY & WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
Transparency is the publication, to consumers and investors, of activities within the supply chain. This can include anything from procurement of raw goods to an inside look at where garments are being made, and by whom. Oftentimes, transparency highlights positive impacts and social initiatives throughout the supplier base and at the corporate level.
Although they often are associated with one another, transparency and sustainability are vastly different. Sustainability addresses the actual process, taking into account every aspect of the supply chain from how the cotton is harvested through to how each worker is treated from the first stage of procurement to the final shipment. Sustainability relates to sourcing and production techniques that act in favor of environmental protection, highlighting organic, natural fabrics over synthetics. Transparency acts as the mouthpiece for sustainable action, offering companies an incredible opportunity to educate consumers. It is up to each brand to define their own story and to share companywide initiatives in a way that resonates with the consumer. The key to a successful story is authenticity. It is up to each brand to take the customer on a journey to become more aware of their mission and how each story they share supports the core values of their company.
Authenticity means understanding that your company may not be perfect in all of its actions, but that you are actively working towards something better. It means not falsely pushing a sustainable objective while behind the scenes engaging in unethical behavior. Today’s consumer is connected on a multitude of levels and has become an expert in spotting greenwashing. Brands both big and small have gotten caught up in this, greatly diminishing their accountability.
TRANSPARENCY VS. ACCOUNTABILITY
Just as transparency is the conduit for sustainability it is also the gateway to accountability. Without transparency there is no way of ensuring or proving fair labor across each stage of production, nor is there a way to see how the environment is being impacted. Without transparency, it is impossible to have visibility into each and every part of the process.
As stated by Rachel Cernansky, in the May 2020 Vogue Business article, “Is Transparency a Dead End?“, transparency is considered a necessary first step to hold brands accountable for more sustainable and ethical practices. But often lost in the push for transparency is the end goal of better wages, safer working conditions and cleaner manufacturing. Years into fashion’s transparency movement, critics say it hasn’t led to meaningful change. Brands have been rewarded for taking positive initial steps, but without incentives to improve on the deeper social and environmental issues that public disclosure is supposed to bring to light, most “transparency” starts and ends with what a brand decides itself it wants to disclose.”
Cernansky notes that brands require incentives to continue moving forward with sustainable initiatives. What better incentive than consumer demand? Consumers are speaking up with their wallets, showing brands that accountability is a requirement.
DISCOVER OUR VALUES
There is a colossal amount of information on transparency, sustainability, and authenticity. It can be overwhelming even to someone within the industry. At YUUGEN, we simplify your search for transparency and slow fashion. We have carefully curated the offering to showcase slow fashion brands, allowing you to save time researching and verifying whether or not a specific brand follows the principles of slow fashion. This gives you the opportunity to enjoy shopping, knowing that YUUGEN shares your values.
Discover our 20+ brands! Learn more about each brand and the product offering.
We organize them under 9 vales:
It is far more enjoyable and meaningful to shop knowing that your purchase is supporting brands that share your values.
Author: Danielle Mazurek
Graphics: Ada Waleska