Are fashion brands actually making progress at becoming ethical?

The results from Fashion Revolution’s latest report have been released

Following the tragic Rana Plaza factory collapse in 2013 – that cost the lives of 1,138 people – social enterprise Fashion Revolution (and its annual week dedicated to ethics in fashion) was founded to fight for greater transparency in the industry, and to ensure safer working conditions for garment workers. Now in its fifth year, Fashion Revolution Week has come around once again, and with it the latest Fashion Transparency Index

Up 52 cooperating companies this time around, the list evaluates 150 of the biggest fashion brands (including Calvin Klein, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton) across five key areas: policy and commitments, governance, traceability, ‘know, show & fix’ and spotlight issues. These sectors review how much information brands disclose about their suppliers, supply chain policies and practices, and social and environmental impact to give a score of up to 250 possible points. 

Here are some of the key points from the 2018 index. 


The most positive takeaway from this year’s report is that 52 additional brands have joined since last year. All of the new additions agreed to share information and taking steps to improve their social and environmental impacts. Not only are there more brands in total, but on average the group performed better, with 65 brands exceeding the benchmark score in comparison to last year’s 43. 


Since 2017’s findings were released there seems to be a big push from a number of brands to improve their ethics and sustainability. The North Face took the top spot for most improved, having increased its total score by 22 per cent, particularly in governance which looks into the effort made by the head of the company. Elsewhere, Levi’s, ASOS and Hugo Boss also made significant improvements showing tangible results from the report. 


Altogether, the brands had an average of 21 per cent – an increase of only one per cent since 2017. With no brands scoring more than 60 per cent, there is still a lot of progress that needs to be made. There is also still a lack of transparency when it comes to disclosing information around the treatment of garment workers, particularly women. With some brands also refusing to disclose any information whatsoever, it’s difficult to get an idea of the whole picture. 


There are many ways that you can help change things for the better, particularly by supporting campaigns asking for brands to publish supply chain information. You can ask #whomademyclothes on brands’ social media accounts and join events during Fashion Revolution Week to discover labels that are already working for a positive change within the industry, too. Ultimately, the goal is to change attitudes, get involved and encourage brands to do more, and even by contributing in a small way, change can happen.

For more information on how to help, read Fashion Revolution’s guide here