The open-source playbook backed by Adidas that could transform traceability

The fashion industry has not prioritized transparency and traceability in the past. Many brands don’t know where to start, according to TrusTrace, which reports a 350 per cent year-on-year increase in brands reaching out for guidance and support.

Fashion Revolution publishes an annual Transparency Index, ranking brands based on the sustainability data they share publicly. The organization itself was created in response to the 2013 Rana Plaza garment factory collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which killed at least 1,132 people. “A lack of transparency costs lives and, in order to achieve accountability, greater visibility is needed to drive industry transformation,” says Liv Simpliciano, policy and research manager at Fashion Revolution. “Transparency is the starting point, not the end in itself.”

According to TrusTrace, 95 per cent of brands still track their supply chains manually, although interest is growing in digital solutions. The playbook includes disclosure guidance around overconsumption, overproduction, decent work, circularity and carbon emissions. It also covers the need for industry standardization and decentralization of data, as well as information on the impact of various materials. Brands will be able to measure and track their progress with both the playbook and a ‘Levels of Traceability’ tool launched simultaneously.

The playbook encourages brands to invest in technology, internal sustainability teams, collaborations with suppliers and robust reporting systems. “Many brands have mapped their suppliers, but true traceability has to go beyond this, to reach the fiber level, which is not a simple task,” says TrusTrace’s Ghosh. The platform claims to have helped Adidas track one million transactions across 10,000 materials and styles in three months.

However, the playbook can’t succeed without broader change, insists Ghosh. “To achieve the sustainable transformation needed, governments and industry bodies covering all fashion industry stakeholders need to implement a framework that is inclusive and sustainable. Every brand’s traceability journey will look completely unique.”

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