Interview with Carry Somers

Carry Somers
Carry Somers
Fashion Revolution
Fashion Revolution

Brings me to brands. Have brands been taking Fashion Revolution seriously enough? Or, do you think most have been either engaging in counter-PR campaigns or simply brushing aside the issues at hand? Don't you think there's too much of greenwashing around?

No, I think there is less and less greenwashing around. Debbie Coulter of the ETI said at our Fashion Transparency Index press briefing today that it is no longer a question of whether brands are moving towards transparency, but how.

Disclosing key supplier, supply chain and operational information helps NGOs, unions, local communities and the workers themselves to more swiftly alert brands to human rights and environmental concerns. It can also help to protect brand reputation by enabling the company to more swiftly take action if any unauthorised facilities are being used to make its products. 

Sustainability (especially w.r.t fashion) is a lifestyle issue. Convincing governments and industry might be easier to do than bring about lifestyle changes among billions around the world. Your comments, please.

We have certainly seen improvements in the fashion industry in the past five years as more brands are understanding the importance of publishing information about their suppliers and their codes of practice, coupled with pressure from consumers and from legislation such as the Modern Slavery Act and California Transparency in Supply Chains Act.

We hope the Fashion Transparency Index helps to demonstrate the need for mandatory due diligence and reporting. We would also like to see governments make companies and their executives legally responsible for what happens in the company's supply chains, regardless of whether the company has direct control or where in the world abuses may be happening. 

This is made very clear on your website: "We don't know enough about the impact our clothing has on people and planet." That said and accepted, are you yourself working on research? Or aiding / assisting others in doing to?

Both. Fashion Revolution is a highly collaborative movement; so, we talk to the other organisations involved in benchmarking such as the The Corporate Human Rights Benchmark, Know the Chain, Behind the Barcode. And, of course, we carry out research ourselves, resulting in the Fashion Transparency Index, backed up by sending questionnaires to the brands. Sarah Ditty, our Head of Policy, and I, coupled with a team of researchers, work on and consult with other organisations and experts on the methodology and lead on the research. We also carry out further research at times which is published in White Papers and we will publish a new white paper at the end of the year.

Agenda-setting is important. How do you think you have fared on this front? I ask this because the movement seems to be geared more towards brands than governments. Very little can be binding on manufacturers or brands if governments are not brought into the picture.

See earlier answer. Fashion Revolution works year-round on projects, policy and awareness-raising. We have participated in high-level EU, G7 and UN events. We have co-organised events at the European Parliament and House of Lords and run Fashion Question Time in the Houses of Parliament every year. 

On April 26, 2017, Fashion Revolution's Head of Policy, Sarah Ditty, spoke at a high-level meeting in the European Parliament "Remembering Rana Plaza - how can we create fair and sustainable supply chains in the garment sector?" This event came the day before an important plenary vote by Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) on a report pushing rules to curb worker exploitation throughout fashion's global supply chains. The European Parliament passed the resolution 505 votes to 49 against with 57 abstentions. The hope is that this will lead to laws, which will ensure better working conditions for the people who make our clothes. 

Published on: 23/04/2018

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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