Five years ago, Remake created an assessment criteria with the goal of guiding our community towards ethical and sustainable shopping alternatives to fast fashion. Our initial goal was to expose transparency issues seen in the business practices and production chains of large fashion brands. The report highlighted the extent to which fast fashion employed overproduction and garment worker exploitation, however, the events of the past couple years have exacerbated this exploitative cycle.
Today, we have released our 2022 Accountability Report to directly respond to change this exacerbated exploitative cycle. We have updated our evaluation framework, and expanded the list of brands within our scope to go beyond transparency, instead looking at action and progress to measure degrees of accountability amongst major players in the fashion industry.
Why the Report Matters
Human industrial activity has aggravated climate catastrophes, with the fashion industry being particularly identified as the world’s third largest polluter. The World Economic Forum estimates that the fashion industry and its supply chains are responsible for 10% of annual worldwide greenhouse gas emissions – that is, nearly 1.2 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide that fashion production has released into the atmosphere. The UN body, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), has officially sounded a “code red” for humanity.
Overproduction of this fashion cycle has been dependent on the systematic exploitation of garment workers. Through the pandemic, a number of fast fashion brands canceled orders, leaving global garment workers unpaid, triggering trickle down effects – with wage insecurity inducing food insecurity and housing insecurity. Remake responded with quick and strategic campaigns to address these injustices.
Remake’s #PayUp campaign pressured brands to commit to retroactive payments to compensate their garment workers for already finished orders. Among the international community of garment workers, Remake has circulated the International Accord for Health and Safety – also known as the International Accord – for the purpose of evaluating whether brands can commit to workplace safety and eliminate sweatshop conditions post Rana Plaza disaster. The two year binding agreement institutes enforceable contracts with brands and allows for expansion into other countries from the model of implementation in Bangladesh.
In the current environment of fast fashion, being a conscious consumer means more than just shopping ethically.
In 2021, Remake’s advocacy, in collaboration with the Garment Worker Center in Los Angeles, helped to pass the Garment Worker Protection Act (SB62) – crucial legislation that ended the piece pay rate system among LA’s garment factories – replacing it with the already existing minimum wage standard and holding fashion companies partially liable for the payment of garment workers. The Garment Worker Protection Act has set the precedent for other states to eliminate piece pay rate and opened conversations for national legislation to protect garment workers operating within the United States via the FABRIC Act.
The trajectory of events over the past couple of years have made it clear that although transparency is a core value of ethical and sustainable fashion, it is not enough. Supporting conscious consumers today has taken on a bigger challenge. In the current environment of fast fashion, being a conscious consumer means more than just shopping ethically. Conscious consumers need conscious industries. This means radically different business models – ones that work within the constraint of finite planetary boundaries and delivery of equity for its workforce.
Remake’s 2022 Accountability Report tracks actions not just words.
To this end, we have updated our assessment criteria – raising the baseline of ethical and sustainable evaluation from transparency to accountability. The days of oversold brand commitments set far out into a future that never arrives are over. Fashion companies, especially the corporate giants who control the industry, must make transformative change now. We will no longer reward them for transparency for transparency’s sake. Instead, our updated criteria focuses on action and progress.
Remake’s 2022 Accountability Report
Remake’s 2022 Accountability Report, in collaboration with labor rights organizations; professors of human rights, employment, and law; and thought leaders in the fields of environmental justice, degrowth and circularity has concluded that action and progress need to be measured by the guiding principle of accountability. Accordingly, we have constructed the following framework to evaluate fashion companies’ progress towards true accountability – tracking for action and demonstrations of year-over-year progress – in the following six weighted areas:
Traceability (8 points)
Wages and Wellbeing (23 points)
Commercial Practices (15 points)
Raw Materials (20 points)
Environmental Justice (42 points)
Governance (42 points)
In addition these six weighted categories, we have also included three salient spotlight issues:
Companies’ commitments to the International Accord
Companies’ commitments to a single global standard for products sourced from China’s Xinjiang region in line with the updated End Uyghur Forced Labor Call to Action
Companies’ commitments to acting responsibly around pandemic-related wage theft in the supply chain
These Spotlight Issues are no longer negatively scored if brands do not comply, rather we have shifted to using these issues as neutral-scored case studies in order to create a baseline to compare year-over-year progress.
Remake’s second annual Fashion Accountability Report is based on our updated scoring system; we have assessed 58 of the world’s largest companies across fast fashion, luxury and big box retail.
The first category of companies is comprised of those with an annual revenue of over $100 million. (To note: this category includes parent companies and conglomerates. Scores and insights presented in this report reflect all relevant subsidiary companies and brands). Due to their size and purchasing power, these companies have been identified as having the most influence and responsibility to create the systemic changes that the fashion industry so critically needs in order to achieve its climate and social justice goals. As such, we have increased the number of companies scored from 46 to 58 – scoring a number of new companies, including, Chanel, Desigual, Disney, Hanesbrands Inc., Kering (last year, we scored Gucci but not the Kering conglomerate), LVMH (Louis Vuitton, Celine, Dior), MUJI, Ralph Lauren, REI, River Island, Rothy’s, PUMA and Savage X Fenty.
The second category of companies evaluated are 15 small, ethical and sustainable businesses, and they have been included as a baseline of comparison to fast fashion brands. While our prior report included these businesses, earning less than $100 million in annual revenue, into the aggregate scores, we realize this does not prove to be a contextually consistent comparison with larger fast fashion companies. For the purposes of highlighting new and emerging leading businesses, this year we chose to evaluate a different set of companies than the ones included in last year’s report. Sustainable small- and medium-sized enterprises, or SMEs, will still be lifted up in the report via the new Small Sustainable Businesses section.
We also sought out the input of a host of expert stakeholders to help us create a set of ambitious, moonshot goals that will propel the industry in the right direction and ensure a just transition for all along the way. You can meet those Stakeholders in the Advisory Team section of this report.
How Remake’s Fashion Accountability Report Differs
Remake practices what we preach. We don’t receive any funding from the fashion industry, ensuring our ability to serve as a reputable and independent third-party watchdog.
We have established a baseline for evaluating ethicality and sustainability through information within the public domain – sourced through companies’ own published sustainability and annual reports, or on their websites – for the explicit purpose of ensuring companies are held publicly accountable for both the labor and environmental impacts of their supply chains.
Building on this baseline, Remake’s 2022 Accountability Report tracks actions not just words.
We score companies on progress not promises, cutting through corporate language to award points towards measures of demonstrable progress from direct supply chain practices such as tracking workers who make a living wage to indirect supply chain interactions like tracking animal welfare on farms that source raw material for fashion supply chains.
We also track actions holistically at every stage of the company. This means looking at internal company pipeline indicators like diversity of corporate leadership, diversity statistics within management teams, and wages paid to retail workers. It also means tracking the company’s actions and prioritization of external environmental impact from production cycles – notably progress towards meeting carbon reduction targets.
By tracing and tracking actions holistically, we actively treat social and environmental impacts as deeply intertwined. Because within the fashion industry overproduction is dependent on exploitation of garment workers, and exploitation of garment workers in turn creates and caters a cycle of overproduction, avenues of ethical and environmental progress cannot be separated. As such, we score brands on their inherent business model, not just their business practices. This means fast fashion brands that operate on a model of overproduction through low-quality trend cycles and prioritize excessive sales growth are automatically ineligible to gain points in various accountability scorecard categories.
Remake is on a mission to change the way we consume fashion. We’re dedicated to holding brands accountable for labor and environmental injustices, while simultaneously providing safe working environments and living wages for garment workers around the world.
Remake’s 2022 Fashion Accountability Report not only demands change, it acts towards it.