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The Denim Supply Chain Speaks Up

I feel extremely lucky to be able to share the stories of those using denim as a power for good, but it breaks my heart to know that many of the people behind our jeans are treated with no care at all. That's why I am so excited about the work Transformers Foundation is doing. Rather than talking about our problems, they've created actionable steps everyone in our industry, and the world for that matter can do to build care and ethics into our blue world.

The new white paper titled “Ending Unethical Brand and Retailer Behavior: The Denim Supply Chain Speaks Up” identifies why brands, retailers, and importers felt they could walk away from their commitments to denim suppliers, and puts forth actionable, effective, and realistic solutions that go beyond the immediate crisis to enact long-term change.

This groundbreaking report marks the first time suppliers in the denim supply chain have spoken up — and spoken with one voice — about their experience, ethical business practices, and what they need from brands, retailers, and importers in order to create a quality product while providing fair and safe working conditions for their workers.

The COVID-19 crisis exposed the inequity of power that exists between brands and the supply chain, but it has also provided a window of opportunity to fix it. Intended to celebrate best-in-class business practices, and inspire the entire denim industry to collaborate on creating a system of fair business relationships code, the report offers actionable steps and solutions for all stakeholders that can correct this power imbalance and build an equitable and ethical denim and jeans industry for the future.

Authored by Marzia Lanfranchi, the Foundation’s intelligence director who you might know from Cotton Diaries, and Alden Wicker, a freelance journalist who writes about environmental and labor issues in the global fashion industry, the report draws on in-depth interviews with executives representing a diverse cross-section of the denim supply chain, including laundries, mills, and cut-and-sew factories in 14 countries.

Including commentary and input from Ayesha Barenblat, founder and CEO at Remake; Jenny Holdcroft, assistant general secretary at IndustriALL Global Union; and Marsha Dickson, president and co-founder of Better Buying, the report gives a rare glimpse into the legal, structural, and business mechanisms that allowed brands, retailers, and importers to walk away from their contracts with suppliers without almost any consequence.

By proposing structural short and long-term solutions, the Transformers Foundation hopes to push the denim industry — and inspire the wider fashion industry — to share profits and risks fairly across the supply chain.

"The supply chain now has the opportunity to work together to make changes they could never make alone," says Andrew Olah, Transformers Foundation Founder. “This report identifies and illuminates the many problems that are fixable with collaboration and shared intentions not only from factories and mills, but from NGOs, governments, brands, retailers, importers, and the people who love to wear denim. This report is just a first step, you’ll be seeing more from us in the months ahead.”

The white paper is organized into the following sections:

  • Results from the Transformers Foundation’s survey of jeans and denim factories The causes of the breakdown of trust and business ethics in the denim supply chain

  • Best business practices from leading denim and jeans manufacturers

  • Announcement of Transformers Foundation’s next steps

  • Recommendations for next steps for:

◦ Brands, Retailers, and Importers

◦ NGOs/Labor Unions

◦ Policy Makers in Buyer Countries

◦ Policy Maker in Supplier Governments

◦ Denim Lovers

Please follow this link to see what you can do today and help us #EthicalizeDenim! Until next time friends, STAY DILIGENT!


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