After the two years of the pandemic that turned the world upside down, Remake World – a global advocacy organization that fights for fair pay and climate justice in the $3 trillion clothing industry- is all out to revamp sustainability issues and repair and remake the future of fashion.
Remake World released its second annual 2022 Remake Fashion Accountability Report in early November, which assesses around 58 major fashion retailers, including new entries such as Chanel, J.Crew, and Allbirds among others. It has updated its evaluation framework and expanded the list of brands to go beyond transparency and to measure accountability levels instead of just looking at profits and progress figures among the big players in the fashion industry.
New sustainability fashion policies
One of the key positive 2022 trends in the apparel industry is that fashion policy has taken centre stage and moved into the mainstream while shaping global legislative agendas around the world. The hard-won recent passing of the Garment Worker Protection Act (SB62) in California in 2021 has tried to inspire a wave of proposed policies in the US and Europe that will protect labour and human rights in the poorer parts of the globe. To follow up further, in May 2022, The US Congress introduced a successor law to SB62 called the Fashioning Accountability and Building Real Institutional Change or FABRIC Act, which has strong provisions that both hold companies accountable for supply chain wages and incentivize investments in domestic manufacturing.
Climate criteria issues met only by few brands
In the wake of this, Remake’s 2022 Fashion Accountability Report's key finding is that global fashion companies are making bold promises on climate change policies but they are all half-hearted. Just about three companies comprising 5 per cent of the listed ones, Burberry, Everlane and H&M Group have managed to meet all four climate criteria levels of Remake. These four criteria include: disclosure of full emissions, short-term 1.5℃ pathway-aligned Science Based Targets, ambitious long-term net-zero targets and lastly, a bigger reduction in their total greenhouse gas.
Further breakdown of the report shows four companies or 7 per cent which include Hanesbrands, Patagonia, Ralph Lauren and Reformation have shown some progress towards a living wage in their supply chains in addition to disclosing the methodology they use to quantify a living wage.
Another five companies or 9 per cent which include Burberry, Kering (Gucci, Balenciaga), Marks & Spencer, PUMA and Reformation have shown partial information which points out that a few of their direct employees, such as corporate employees or retail workers were earning a living wage. “As companies reveal their full supply chain emissions, the scale of the problem is clear: Inditex (Zara’s) annual emissions are equivalent, for example, to consuming 39 million barrels of oil,” says the report.
The report states, a third of the assessed companies are reducing their packaging waste and 20 per cent now offer upcycling or repair services. Despite a rise in resale platforms and some repair initiatives, there has not been a transition away from linear production. We continue to see companies co-opting customer interest in circularity – like Shein’s new resale platforms – to greenwash.
This year has been a tug-of-war with two opposing forces making a mark in the fashion segment. There’s been a pull-back in status quo with Shein’s rise and Boohoo’s greenwashing move among others, at the same time, some better policy reform like the Fabric Act, regulatory backlash to greenwashing as well as a lot of global organizing between unions, civil society and citizens such as the Levi’s Accord campaign are happening. The industry remains in hope that 2023 will continue to see more industry support from big companies for worker-driven policies and binding agreements which will make the world a better place for everyone.