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Transparency of sustainability disclosures among luxury and mass-market fashion brands

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The study explores the transparency status of sustainability disclosures among luxury and mass-market fashion brands, examining the possibilities that the type of information disclosed is selectively prioritized, and higher differences in supply chain disclosure exist among differently positioned retail brands. Fashion Transparency Index 2017 represents the first comprehensive index that ranked 100 of the most affluent fashion brands according to the levels of corporate and supply chain transparency. To explore the index raw-data study employs non-parametric methods, the Hodges-Lehmann median differences and the Probability of Superiority. For 100 brands, the average corporate and supply chain transparency joint score was just 19.6% (out of 100%). The type of information disclosed was selectively prioritized, and there was an 80% chance that brands were scored higher in corporate than in supply chain transparency. A comparison of the mass-market (n = 27) and luxury (n = 13) sub-sample revealed higher transparency of supply chain disclosures among mass-market brands. Benchmarking the transparency of sustainability disclosures serves as a point of reference against which current and future disclosures may be assessed. Consumers may use these findings to question current transparency status and facilitate further industry change. Retailers might use identified critical areas to re-negotiate priorities for future disclosure.
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Journal of Global Fashion Marketing
Bridging Fashion and Marketing
ISSN: 2093-2685 (Print) 2325-4483 (Online) Journal homepage: https://www.tandfonline.com/loi/rgfm20
Transparency of sustainability disclosures among
luxury and mass-market fashion brands
Iva Jestratijevic, Nancy A. Rudd & James Uanhoro
To cite this article: Iva Jestratijevic, Nancy A. Rudd & James Uanhoro (2020): Transparency of
sustainability disclosures among luxury and mass-market fashion brands, Journal of Global Fashion
Marketing, DOI: 10.1080/20932685.2019.1708774
To link to this article: https://doi.org/10.1080/20932685.2019.1708774
Published online: 08 Jan 2020.
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Transparency of sustainability disclosures among luxury and
mass-market fashion brands
Iva Jestratijevic
a
, Nancy A. Rudd
b
and James Uanhoro
c
a
Department of Merchandising & Digital Retailing, University of North Texas, Denton, TX, USA;
b
Consumer
Sciences: Fashion and Retail Studies, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA;
c
Educational Studies,
The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA
ABSTRACT
The study explores the transparency status of sustainability disclo-
sures among luxury and mass-market fashion brands, examining
the possibilities that the type of information disclosed is selectively
prioritized, and higher dierences in supply chain disclosure exist
among dierently positioned retail brands. Fashion Transparency
Index 2017 represents the rst comprehensive index that ranked
100 of the most auent fashion brands according to the levels of
corporate and supply chain transparency. To explore the index raw-
data study employs non-parametric methods, the Hodges-
Lehmann median dierences and the Probability of Superiority.
For 100 brands, the average corporate and supply chain transpar-
ency joint score was just 19.6% (out of 100%). The type of informa-
tion disclosed was selectively prioritized, and there was an 80%
chance that brands were scored higher in corporate than in supply
chain transparency. A comparison of the mass-market (n = 27) and
luxury (n = 13) sub-sample revealed higher transparency of supply
chain disclosures among mass-market brands. Benchmarking the
transparency of sustainability disclosures serves as a point of refer-
ence against which current and future disclosures may be assessed.
Consumers may use these ndings to question current transpar-
ency status and facilitate further industry change. Retailers might
use identied critical areas to re-negotiate priorities for future
disclosure.
,,
°
(FTI 2017)一个,100
,两个
,(:)(
:,)°为了,
数方,°
ARTICLE HISTORY
Received 16 September 2019
Revised 5 December 2019
Accepted 12 December 2019
KEYWORDS
Transparency; supply chain;
sustainability; disclosures;
brands
;;;
;
CORRESPONDENCE TO Iva Jestratijevic Iva.Jestratijevic@unt.edu Department of Merchandising & Digital
Retailing, University of North Texas, Denton, TX, USA
JOURNAL OF GLOBAL FASHION MARKETING
https://doi.org/10.1080/20932685.2019.1708774
© 2020 Korean Scholars of Marketing Science
100仅为19.
6(100)°所披,
80°
(n = 27) (n = 13) ,
°一个,
°
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1. Introduction
The fashion industry generates enormous prots across world markets, despite the
journeys made by clothing remain largely unseen (Ditty, 2017). Retailers promote and
sell apparel brands, but they rarely produce goods placed on the retail shelves. Instead,
they cooperate with farms that grow bers, with numerous facilities that dye yarns or
weave or knit the raw materials into fabrics, and hundreds of factories that cut, sew and
assemble the garments (Jestratijevic & Rudd, 2018). The fragmented structure of the
fashion supply chain creates possibilities for dierent human and environmental abuses.
Retail executives often have limited capability for capturing and assessing negative
business impact, but holistically oriented sustainable development disarms the exis-
tence of corporate or legal boundaries for improvement (Dickson & Eckman, 2006;
Elkington, 1998; Yang, Song, & Tong, 2017). In fact, for business competitiveness and
brand credibility, it is no longer enough to create the fashionable product at the most
competitive price (Niinimäki, 2010). External stakeholders such as consumers, govern-
mental and non-governmental organizations increasingly demand sustainable goods that
do not harm the workers or the environment along the production chain (Hiller-Connell
& Kozar, 2017). Consequently, there is growing pressure on retailers to increase the
transparency of corporate communication and to reveal supply chain and pitfalls that can
prevent faster improvement (Marshall, McCarthy, McGrath, & Harrigan, 2016).
Transparency plays an important role in sustainability reporting (Cho, Laine, Roberts,
& Rodrigue, 2015; Gardner et al., 2018). Increasing transparency of sustainability dis-
closures encourages business scrutiny and also signals readiness and openness of the
business for further advancement. From that perspective, transparency in the fashion
industry does not constitute the nal business goal but represents a basic precondition
for achieving systematic behavioral change (Bhaduri & Ha-Brookshire, 2017). A number
of studies have been conducted to investigate the structure and contents of sustainability
reports across various industries. Studies exclusively focused on transparency of sustain-
ability disclosures in the fashion industry are scarce. Such studies often include case
analysis (Ho, 2014; Strähle & Merz, 2017) or they investigate small samples of primarily
mass-market brands (e.g. Garcia-Torres, Rey-Garcia, & Albareda-Vivo, 2017; Kozlowski,
Searcy, & Bardecki, 2015; Sherman, 2009). Due to the limited number of studies
investigating luxury brand disclosures, and lack of studies exploring large samples (Ma,
Lee, & Goerlitz, 2016) transparency among famous mass-market and luxury retailers is
yet to be assessed. To benchmark the transparency status of sustainability disclosures
2I. JESTRATIJEVIC ET AL.
among globally recognizable fashion brands, the purpose of this study is threefold: (1) to
quantify the amount of information that was, at a certain point of time, publicly available;
(2) to explore the possibility that fashion brands selectively disclose business information
(Garcia-Torres et al., 2017), prioritizing disclosure of corporate policies and governance
information rather than supply chain information; (3) to examine the possibility that
higher dierences in supply chain disclosure exist among dierently positioned retail
brands (Kapferer & Michaut-Denizeau, 2014; Karaosman, Brun, & Morales-Alonso,
2017; Towers, Perry, & Chen, 2013). Benchmarking the transparency status of sustain-
ability disclosures among retailers might serve as a point of reference against which
current or future disclosures may be assessed. Consumers may use this study's ndings to
question the transparency and facilitate further industry change. Retailers might use
identied critical areas to re-negotiate priorities for future disclosure.
2. Literature review
2.1. Fashion supply chain and social and environmental impacts
Todaysfashion brands rarely own manufacturing facilities; instead, they work with
thousands of factories around the world at any given time. Apparel manufacture is
a labor-intensive industry. Human labor is required for each production aspect, starting
with design, to pattern making, fabric cutting, and garment assembling. Fashion supply
chain includes all the activities involved in processing raw materials up until the
production and distribution of the nal consumer goods (Lund-Thomsen &
Lindgreen, 2014). Three main supply chain segments are often recognized as a part of
consequent production phases, where suppliers are divided within tier-one (nalization),
tier-two (processing) and tier-three stages (raw material cultivation) (Fletcher, 2013).
Both mass-market and luxury brands operate across complex supply chains. In 2016,
H&M Group reported having an estimated one million supply chain workers, employed
by approximately 820 suppliers and 1,900 factories. Inditex, in the same year, reported
partnerships in 50 countries with 1,725 tier-one suppliers and 6,298 other facilities (Ditty,
2017). In the luxury sector, Burberry and Prada were among the rst brands to announce
production delocalization, from countries of brand heritage to countries with lower
production costs (Kapferer, 2012). In 2010, Prada disclosed a supply network that
included 480 manufacturing facilities in China, Turkey, Vietnam, and Romania
(Tokatli, 2014; Visconti & Di Giuli, 2014). In 2015, luxury giant, Gucci, reported audits
on 659 international suppliers (Ditty, 2017).
The fragmented structure of fashion supply chains creates possibilities for many
sustainability-related problems (Kamal & Deegan, 2013). Production in dierent coun-
tries requires dierent laws and regulations, which dictate workersrights, and inuence
production standards, chemical usage, and waste regulation. Pollution caused by textile
production represents a pervasive problem, and the apparel industry is recognized as
the second biggest environmental polluter (Cline, 2012). Similarly, the social impacts are
enormous. The industry workforce is largely made up of women and children; even
though countries have outlawed child labor, each country has dierent regulations on
what constitutes child labor(i.e. the legal minimum working age) (Nimbalker,
Mawson, Lee, & Cremen, 2017). The suggested minimal requirements for a living wage
JOURNALOFGLOBALFASHIONMARKETING 3
in sourcing countries are not met (Ditty, 2017). In 2017, in Bangladesh, the minimal
entry level industry wage was US$ 63 per month, while Global Alliance suggested a fair
living wage of approximately US$ 214 for Dhaka, and US$177 for cities around Dhaka
(Nimbalker et al., 2018, p. 15). Most of the production processes involve continuous
exposure to heavy chemicals, while laborers often have limited access to professional
training, and work is conducted in poorly equipped and unsafe working environments.
Furthermore, suppliers often sub-contract work to other factories, or homeworkers,
making issues an invisible part of an illegal and hidden production chain (Khan &
Rodrigues, 2015; Preuss, 2001).
Lack of supplier knowledge has seriously harmed the reputation of the retail business
(Kang & Hustvedt, 2014). In the 1990s, Nikes CEO dismissed sweatshop allegations at
Nikes Indonesian factories, transferring responsibility to Nikes contractors (Maryanov,
2010). In 2009, Anti-Slavery International (ASI) reported that Bangladesh Beximco
Textiles, a major cotton supplier for clothing brands, admitted that 4550% of their
raw cotton was imported from Uzbekistan, a country known for forced child labor. ASI
urged international retailers to improve supplierstracing, preventing further human
exploitation (ASI, 2010). After the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh which killed
1,134 garment workers, famous mass-market brands, could not determine whether they
were sourcing from that particular factory despite their clothing labels being found in the
rubble (Khan & Rodrigues, 2015). In 2016, a survey of 106 retailers was conducted to
estimate whether tracing improvements were achieved. Researched showed that only 7%
of companies knew their cotton suppliers, indicating that the supplierslimited knowl-
edge was embedded within the deeper supply chain structure (Nimbalker et al., 2017).
Unlike mass-market brands whose corporate and supply chain failures are often publicly
scrutinized (Cline, 2012; Turker & Altuntas, 2014), ethics is implicitly associated with
luxury business (Towers et al., 2013). Luxury brands are historically recognized for brand
provenance, expertise, and quality (Brun & Castelli, 2013). Supply chain information
protection is especially enabled in the case of vertical organization of the production,
where companies possess manufacturing facilities, leather tanneries and exotic animal
farms (Kapferer & Michaut-Denizeau, 2014). The most publicly criticized issues in this
sector include animalswelfare violations in the process of rearing and killing the animals
(Bendell & Kleanthous, 2007), and unsold merchandise burning to maintain brand
desirability (Napier & Sanguineti, 2018).
2.2. Transparency of sustainability disclosures
Sustainability reporting refers to voluntary, non-nancial disclosure made by compa-
nies on the social and environmental impacts of their businesses (Diouf & Boiral, 2017;
Hahn & Kühnen, 2013). Since 1997, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) established
reporting guidelines for companies that want to commit to sustainable improvements.
The essence of its reporting is to make companiesimpacts and procedures transpar-
ent, so that organizations and dierent stakeholders can jointly catalyze positive
change, measure performance, negotiate goals, and manage progress (GRI, 2015). To
assess critical corporate and supply chain performance, disclosures should map key
performance indicators (KPIs) such as material sourcing, energy, water, biodiversity,
carbon emissions, waste and chemical management, innovation, and life-cycle
4I. JESTRATIJEVIC ET AL.
assessment (GRI, 2015). Reporting is done using corporate web sites, or through
integrated, or independent sustainability reports (Marshall et al., 2016).
Transparency represents a key condition for creating reliable disclosure meaning that
information shared should be easily accessible, clear, accurate, comparable, and rele-
vant (Dando & Swift, 2003;Mol,2015). Between 2012 and 2017, the percentage of the
global companies across the industries releasing a sustainability report has grown from
20% to 80% (Ioannou & Serafeim, 2017). External drivers for disclosures in a retail
industry come from various sides including new regulations, NGO pressures, and
industry practices (Marshall et al., 2016). In the United States, the California
Transparency Supply Chain Act (CATSCA) requires retailers to trace their supply
chain, and to disclose on their website eorts they use to eradicate human abuse in the
production process. In the United Kingdom, the UK Modern Slavery Act was estab-
lished for the same purpose. In the European Union, the REACH (Registration,
Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals) Act was created to direct
chemical management and information disclosure. Non-governmental associations
also foster corporate disclosure. Clean Clothes, PETA (People for the Ethical
Treatment of Animals), and Greenpeace are pressuring companies to improve the
ethical treatment of workers, animals, and the environment, and to disclose the
remediation processes used to resolve issues.
Even though companies in the apparel community overall have taken certain steps to
deepen and disclose their commitment to sustainability, the current status of disclosures
represents a topic that denitely deserves greater academic examination. So far, there has
been a little academic examination of sustainability-related disclosures in the apparel
industry. Consequently, corporate and supply chain disclosures remain poorly under-
stood industry practices (Gardner et al., 2018). Part of the problem is based on the fact
that most of the existing studies that explore sustainability reports in the fashion industry
are conducted with small samples (n = 114) of fashion brands and, therefore, it is hard
to generalize their ndings. For example, Sherman (2009) employed a case-study content
analysis of Nikes and Adidass reports. Brands previously scrutinized for production
failures were found to benchmark sustainability values and commitments to enhance
brand credibility. Another available case study compared sustainability reports among
Inditex and H&M, revealing that companies invest great eorts to identify universal
negative production impacts while they add little information about their own supply
chain practices that were previously secret or unknown(Garcia-Torres et al., 2017,
p. 21). Some individual case analysis oered valuable insights into mechanisms used by
only a few leading retailers to proactively shift boundaries of supply chain disclosure. For
example, in the case of Nike, interactive mapping systems were examined as an eective
and easily accessible tool to disclose manufacturer information on the corporate website,
including the facility name, location, and subcontracting status (Marshall et al., 2016).
Similarly, the luxury brand Honestby was examined, for creating 100% transparent
disclosures, where product life-cycle assessment and cost and prot calculations per
product are disclosed entirely on the corporate website (Strähle & Merz, 2017). Except
those few proactive approaches to sustainability disclosure, previous research most
commonly agreed that, unlike promoting sustainability commitments, communicating
supply chain information is often particularly problematic due to the supplier non-
compliance (Turker & Altuntas, 2014), reputation associated risks (Kapferer, 2012;
JOURNALOFGLOBALFASHIONMARKETING 5
Karaosman et al., 2017), and the diculties in setting up monitoring systems across
complex supply chains (Marshall et al., 2016).
Previous studies also recognized the possibility that certain dierences exist in the
supply chain disclosures among dierently positioned retail brands (Kapferer &
Michaut-Denizeau, 2014; Karaosman et al., 2017; Towers et al., 2013). Luxury brands
were found to be very secretive about their corporate and supply chain practices mainly
to maintain brand exclusivity (Strähle & Merz, 2017). Due to the evident lack of
information, luxury disclosures are especially underexplored. One available case study
showed that responsible supply chain practices in the luxury sector are assumed as
implicit rather than explicit(Towers et al., 2013, p. 11), and supplier auditability
often did not follow formal procedures found in the case of mass-market retailers. An
exploration of cashmere supply chain strategies in the case of a Scottish luxury garment
manufacturer (Towers et al., 2013) conrmed that the heritage of being a family-owned
business served as the main vehicle for establishing a trustworthy company-supplier
collaboration. Luxury supply chain eciency is furthermore perceived as an advantage of
vertically organized production systems where retailers own manufacturing facilities; this
production system enables monitoring and also increases information protection
(Kapferer & Michaut-Denizeau, 2014). Nevertheless, studies exploring disclosures
among a large number of brands are rare. Fulton and Lee (2013) conducted a website
content analysis of 156 small and family-owned online retailers, arguing that businesses
committed to sustainability need to embrace greater transparency, showing consumers
the full spectrum of challenges they face to achieve sustainability commitments.
Similarly, Ma et al. (2016) conducted a quantitative analysis of 204 California-based
apparel retailers, exploring their online compliance of CATSCA requirements. Findings
showed that 50% of the companies did not adhere to CATSCA guidelines since they did
not disclose on the corporate website the required corporate and supply chain informa-
tion. Even though studies that investigated disclosures among a greater number of
privately owned small-businesses (Fulton & Lee, 2013) and California-based retailers
(Ma et al., 2016) conrmed that retailers need to embrace greater transparency, trans-
parency among big samples of famous mass-market and luxury retailers is yet to be
quantied and assessed. Additionally, a closer examination is needed for sustainability
disclosures that are selectively created, as well as dierences in supply chain disclosure
that exist among dierently positioned retail brands.
2.3. Research questions
To advance examination of sustainability-related corporate and supply chain disclosures
in the apparel industry the purpose of the study is threefold. Firstly, to benchmark the
transparency status of sustainability disclosures, the study aims to quantify the amount of
information, fashion brands have made publicly available. Therefore, the rst research
question is: How much sustainability-related information are fashion brands publicly
disclosing? Secondly, to validate and expand previous ndings (Garcia-Torres et al.,
2017; Sherman, 2009), study examines the possibility that the type of information
retailers disclose is selectively prioritized as corporate sustainability values are more
visible than supply chain procedures (Diouf & Boiral, 2017). Thus, the second research
question is: Do brands primarily tend to disclose information on policies and corporate
6I. JESTRATIJEVIC ET AL.
governance as opposed to information on supply chain transparency? Thirdly, the study
aims to determine the possibility that dierences in the supply chain disclosure exist
among dierently positioned retail brands (Kapferer & Michaut-Denizeau, 2014;
Karaosman et al., 2017; Towers et al., 2013), as mass-market brands are prone to release
more transparent supply chain information to enhance brand trust, reputation, and
corporate credibility (Diouf & Boiral, 2017; Griskevicius, Tybur, & Van den Bergh,
2010; Kang & Hustvedt, 2014). Hence, the nal research question is: Are mass-market
brands more likely to disclose information on supply chain transparency as compared to
luxury brands?
3. Methods
3.1. Fashion transparency index 2017
In 2017, the Fashion Revolution Foundation UK published a Fashion Transparency Index
(FTI 2017), the comprehensive index that ranked 100 of the most auent fashion brands
according to the level of information they disclosed on the brand website(s), parent
company website(s), or within annual/sustainability reports published between
January 2015 and March 2017. The information tracked in the index covered two key
areas: corporate transparency (sub-areas: policies and governance), and supply chain
transparency (sub-areas: traceability, audits, and negative impact reporting). Sub-areas
are dened as: policies refer to the social and environmental standards the business adheres
to. Governance refers to the level of visibility of top management and the responsibility
they hold. Traceability refers to the visibility of suppliers and production networks. Audits
refer to the information on the producers last audits, corrective plans, and remediations.
Negative impact reporting covers mapping the social and environmental impacts of the
business. The purpose of the Index is to provide a snapshot, and a condensed summary of
ratings in the form of cumulative, and area-specic scores for each brand. To extend the
information provided by the Index (63 pages), the research team used raw-data provided
within the Index. As an example, raw-data in policy sub-area oers a full list of social and
environmental policies examined, accompanied by point/s for each part of the policy
released. The policy application can be traced from the headquarters to supplying facilities.
The Index also provides direct links to corporate pages, and reports of brands examined:
those tools were used to contextualize information.
3.2. Brand sample and sub-sample
The FTI 2017 full data set (n = 100) was assessed in this study. Therefore, this paper
explored the sample of 100 international fashion brands that had annual revenues in 2016
that were higher than $1.2 billion in US dollars. For the purpose of examining dierences
in supply chain disclosure among dierently positioned brands (RQ3), a sub-sample of
40 brands was examined, consisting of 27 mass-market brands and 13 luxury brands. The
study follows operational denitions that clearly distinguish the mass market and luxury
brand positioning. Mass-market brands are ones that produce goods in mass quantities
from inexpensive materials, and they are aordable to consumers (Tungate, 2012).
Luxury brands are recognized globally for their production expertise, high price, and
JOURNALOFGLOBALFASHIONMARKETING 7
established historical brand heritage (Kapferer, 2012). To maintain an accurate distinc-
tion between luxury and mass-market sub-sample, relatively newer premium brands
(created after the late 1960s) that tend to blur luxury and mass-market categories were
excluded (Kapferer, 2012). Mass-markets sub-sample brands include: Abercrombie &
Fitch, Adidas, Aéropostale, American Eagle, ASICS, Banana Republic, Champion,
Bershka, Claires Accessories, Converse, Gap, H&M, Jordan, Levis, Lululemon,
Monsoon, New Balance, Nike, Old Navy, Puma, Reebok, Timberland, Under Armour,
Uniqlo, Victorias Secret, Wrangler, Zara. Luxury sub-sample brands include: Bottega
Veneta, Burberry, Chanel, Dior, Ermenegildo Zegna, Giorgio Armani, Gucci, Hermès,
Lacoste, Louis Vuitton, Miu Miu, Prada, Yves Saint Laurent.
4. Data analysis
The index weighted the ve sub-areas as follows: policies 50 points (20%), governance
12 points (4.8%), traceability 85 points (34%), audits 75 points (30%), and negative
impact reporting 28 points (11.2%), for a total of 250 possible points (100%). Preliminary
analysis of FTI 2017 showed that the data were atypical. First, the data were extremely non-
normally distributed. The impact of this on data analysis is that commonplace analytical
methods, such as the dierence between two groups means, may lead to substantive errors
in the interpretation of data as the means may not be representative of the data (Erceg-
Hurn & Mirosevich, 2008). Secondly, answering some of the research questions required
the analysis of small samples. Hence, the study employs non-parametric methods, which
are more appropriate for the analysis of this kind of data. Additionally, the analysis
described the data using graphs. Given that the ndings in the study do not generalize
beyond the brands explored, the analysis did not include inferential methods. Moreover,
the focus on robust non-parametric techniques and graphs allowed for disciplined data
exploration (Tong, 2019; Tukey, 1977). For research questions related to the comparison of
the two groups, the Hodges-Lehmann median dierence has been reported (Hodges &
Lehmann, 1963; Newson, 2002). This is the parameter tested in the MannWhitney test as
the non-parametric alternative to the independent-samples t-test. In situations where it
would be adequate to perform the non-parametric MannWhitney test (such as under
extreme non-normality), the Hodges-Lehmann median dierence is an adequate eect size
(Newson, 2002). Moreover, the dierence between group means was also computed. In
situations where the dierence between group means agrees with the Hodges-Lehmann
median dierence, the use of the mean dierence is recommended because it is a familiar
statistic; otherwise, the Hodges-Lehmann median dierence should be utilized (Tong,
2019). An additional measure calculated to quantify the dierence between the groups is
the probability of superiority (PS) (Grissom & Kim, 2001). The PS is the probability that
a random score selected from one group is greater than a randomly selected score from the
other group. For example, if one compares mass-market and luxury brands on governance,
and both brand types had equivalent scores, the PS for this comparison would be 50%.
However, if mass-market brands scored higher than luxury brands on average, the PS
would be greater than 50% for mass-market brands, and under 50% for luxury brands
(Brooks, Dalal, & Nolan, 2014; Vargha & Delaney, 2000). All the rating scores were
analyzed on the percentage scale. As an example, if a brand scored 6 points out of 12
possible points on governance, a 50% (6/12 * 100%) score was used as the brands
8I. JESTRATIJEVIC ET AL.
governance score in all analyses that included governance. Hence, the scores for all analyses
had a theoretical minimum and maximum of 0% and 100%, respectively; 0% being zero
transparency within the relevant business area(s) and 100% being complete transparency
within the relevant business area(s).
5. Results
How much sustainability-related information are the fashion brands publicly disclosing?
FTI 2017 ratings showed that from 100 brands, 32 brands scored 10% or less on total
transparency, and not a single brand scored above 49%. Total transparency scores (%) for
some selected brands are displayed in Table 1.
Three brands, Dior, Heilan Home, and S. Oliver scored zero for not disclosing any
corporate or supply chain information. When contextualizing their data, and accordingly
exploring brand websites, the exact address of the corporate headquarters could not even
be found. Likewise, it was not clear whether they did or did not have sustainability
departments. Chanel was rated as 1% transparent for disclosing: names and roles of top
executives, and the presence of two social policies (equal pay and anti-harassment).
Table 1. FTI, 2017 total transparency scores (%) for some selected apparel brands
(from n = 100).
Brand FTI, 2017 score (%)
Dior 0
S. Oliver 0
Heilan Home 0
Chanel 1
Forever 21 3
Express 4
Michael Kors 8
Giorgio Armani 8
Ralph Lauren 9
Victorias Secret 11
Guess 12
Louis Vuitton 15
Coach 21
Hèrmes 22
Timberland 24
Topshop 25
Burberry 25
Calvin Klein 29
Tommy Hilger 29
ASOS 33
Levis35
Nike 36
Zara 36
Old Navy 46
Gap 46
Banana republic 46
Puma 46
H&M 48
Marks & Spencer 48
Reebok 49
Adidas 49
Note: The scores had a theoretical minimum and maximum of 0% and 100%, respectively; 0%
means zero transparency within the relevant business area(s). If brands made any disclosure
improvements after the FTI 2017 was released (April 2017), information on those improvements
would not be reected here.
JOURNALOFGLOBALFASHIONMARKETING 9
Twenty-ve brands including Forever 21, Express, Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, and
Giorgio Armani scored between 3% and 9% transparent for disclosing only corporate
code of conduct and basic hiring policies. Forty-eight brands including Timberland,
Topshop, Calvin Klein, Coach, Guess, Hermes, Louis Vuitton, and Burberry were rated
between 11% and 30% transparent. Victoria Secret (11%) did not disclose corporate
address or the names/roles of top executives. Their supply chain network was not
publicly available, but main social policies, and the names of organizations that run
supply chain audits were disclosed. Tommy Hilger (29%) disclosed sustainability board
information, social and environmental policies (including chemical management, waste,
and recycling). Twelve brands (e.g. Zara, Levis, Nike, and ASOS) rated between 32% and
37% transparent, disclosed additional information including supplier assessments, nd-
ings, and remediations. ASOS (33%) disclosed policies that apply to all-level suppliers,
non-compliance issues that would prevent further collaboration, and measurable time-
bound social and environmental commitments. Only eight brands (Adidas, Reebok, Old
Navy, Gap, Banana Republic, Puma, H&M and Marks & Spencer) scored as more than
40% transparent. The highest-rated Adidas and Reebok (49%) published searchable lists
of tier-one and some tier-two suppliers, including facility names, address, type of
products/services they provide, frequency of assessment/main ndings. They also pub-
lished a commitment to achieve living wages across the value chain.
Do brands primarily tend to disclose information on policies and corporate governance
as opposed to information on supply chain transparency? The brands performed dier-
ently on the two types of transparency (Figure 1). Corporate transparency was higher
compared to supply chain transparency. The most prevalent policies among brands
were a Code of Business Ethics and a Supplier Code of Conduct. On a local community
level, the majority of brands had adequate policies on engagement, diversity, and
inclusion, waste and recycling, water use, and emission and energy. Nevertheless, the
most touted policies in the country where the corporate headquarters are located were
absent in the supply chain network. Thus, policies on diversity and inclusion and
policies on waste and recycling were excluded from the majority of Supplier Codes of
Conduct which most frequently covered issues such as child/forced labor; anti-
discrimination; freedom of association; harassment and abuse; health and safety; and
working hours. There was a wide variation in brand performance on corporate
transparency; some brands were on the low end, while some scored well above 50%
(Figure 1). Overall, 64% of brands published general contact details for their sustain-
ability departments, 43% of brands revealed the names and roles of executives who are
responsible for the sustainability performance, but only 15 brands disclosed the contact
details for responsible individuals. The performance of brands on supply chain trans-
parency showed less variation, as the majority of brands scored relatively low. The sub-
area averages within corporate transparency were both above 30%, while the sub-area
averages within supply chain transparency were below 20%. Summarizing the data by
the two types of transparency, the dierence between the two was about 30%, meaning
that on average, brands scored about 30% higher on corporate transparency than they
did on supply chain transparency. This number was consistent regardless of whether it
was calculated using the mean dierence or the Hodges-Lehmann median dierence
(Table 2).
10 I. JESTRATIJEVIC ET AL.
The probability that a randomly selected corporate transparency score was greater
than a randomly selected supply chain transparency score was 80.52%. Thus, the type of
information retailers disclose was selectively prioritized, as information on governing
bodies and policies was far more visible than supply chain information.
Although most brands (84%) from the sample reported that their factory assessment
procedures were fully established, only 12 brands disclosed general assessment ndings
for facilities beyond tier-one. Eighty-four brands disclosed information about the sup-
plier assessment process and 23 brands disclosed how many of their factories have
Corrective Action Plans in place in case of production problems. From 100 brands
explored, 45 brands acknowledged sourcing from Bangladesh and signing the
Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety, but only 21 of those brands revealed
local suppliers' remediations.
Table 2. Estimates of dierence in performance on the dierent types of transparency.
Type of transparency Mean (SD) HL median Probability of superiority
Corporate (n = 200) 41.13 (28.63) - 80.52%
Supply chain (n = 300) 10.69 (12.07) - 19.48%
Dierence 30.44 31.00 -
Note: HL median is the Hodges-Lehmann median dierence (see Data Analysis section). The standard
deviation calculated here is the population standard deviation.
Figure 1. Brand performance across the ve business sub-areas. The points represent the average
performance across the ve business sub-areas. The vertical dotted line is the unweighted mean
across the ve sub-areas. The line range for each sub-area represents the range of the middle 50% of
scores (the interquartile range) within that sub-area.
JOURNALOFGLOBALFASHIONMARKETING 11
Are mass-market brands more likely to disclose information on supply chain transpar-
ency as compared to luxury brands? The mass-markets sub-sample (n= 27) performed
better than the luxury brands sub-sample (n= 13) across all three sub-areas comprising
supply chain transparency (see Figure 2). The best performing mass-market brands in the
audits segment were Reebok, Adidas, and H&M. All the luxury brands had near-zero
scores, except Kering group brands (Gucci, YSL, and Bottega Veneta) and Burberry, who
performed at levels comparable to average mass-market brands (see Figure 2). Moreover,
the probability that a mass-market brand had a higher score than a luxury brand was
76%, with a gap of about seven percentage points between both sectors (Table 3).
In the negative impact reporting sub-area, H&M received the highest rating (46.43%)
as they disclosed a transparent living wage roadmap on their ocial website. Once again,
the Kering group brands and Burberry were the only luxury brands to have scores above
zero for disclosing nancial investments in circular resources or technologies toward
reducing water and energy in the production process (Figure 2). The probability that
a mass-market brand performed better than a luxury brand was about 81%, with a gap of
about 14 percentage points between both sectors (Table 3).
In the traceability sub-area, mass-market brands Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy,
received the highest ratings (43.53%) as they disclosed the most detailed supplier lists
including information on tier-two suppliers. Mass-market brands again performed better
than luxury brands, as almost all the luxury brands had near-zero scores (Figure 2). Only
Hermès (29.41%) published information that goes beyond tier-one suppliers. Again, the
probability that a mass-market brand had a higher traceability score than a luxury brand was
about 80%, and the performance gap between both sectors was about 12 percentage points
(Table 3).
6. Conclusion
This research employed non-parametric methods to explore FTI 2017 raw data, bench-
marking transparency status of sustainability disclosures among globally recognizable
Table 3. Dierences between mass-market (n = 27) and luxury brands (n = 13) on supply
chain transparency sub-areas.
Mean HL median Probability of superiority
Audits
Mass-market 14.42 - 75.93%
Luxury 4.40 - 24.07%
Dierence 10.02 7.14 -
Negative impact reporting
Mass-market 21.63 - 81.34%
Luxury 7.79 - 18.66%
Dierence 13.83 13.33 -
Traceability
Mass-market 17.60 - 80.48%
Luxury 2.71 - 19.52%
Dierence 14.89 11.76 -
Note: HL median is the Hodges-Lehmann median dierence (see Data Analysis section under Methods).
Except for the negative impact reporting sub-area, the Hodges-Lehmann median dierence suggested
that the dierence between both groups was not as wide as suggested by the mean dierence. The
dierence in the negative impact reporting does not add up due to rounding error.
12 I. JESTRATIJEVIC ET AL.
fashion brands. Quantifying and exploring the amount of information that brands have
recently made universally available might serve as a reference point against which current
or future disclosers may be assessed. This studys results represent an eloquent reminder
that major fashion brands reluctantly share their business information. Even the brands
with the best performance score (49%) would have to double their eorts to become fully
transparent. Yet the fact that some brands have intentionally chosen not to release any
internal information represents a very signicant, if troubling problem. From all brands
investigated, only Levis and Gap made an explicit commitment to transparency. From 32
brands least-transparent rated, the majority did not publish any form of sustainability
reports, nor did they announce having sustainability departments. Nevertheless, on ocial
brand websites, these brands withheld the core corporate information, such as the address
and phone number of their headquarters and/or names, and the roles of their top manage-
ment executives. It would be understandable to conceal, and thus to protect the informa-
tion related to unique manufacturing techniques, textiles under development, or the source
of an artisan supply as that is information that is vital for brand distinction and competitive
advantage (Marshall et al., 2016). However, the absence of any tangible corporate informa-
tion means that, in reality, it is still possible for fashion businesses to generate enormous
prots, while information about their executives, corporate location, producers and the
social and environmental impacts these brands devour, remain explicitly unknown. The
path toward transformative transparency must also deal with other obstacles. Despite the
types of barriers that prevent retailers from disclosing enough critical information (Fulton
Figure 2. Comparison of mass-market (n = 27) and luxury brands (n = 13) on key sub-areas of supply
chain transparency. The points are jittered because of the presence of tied values in the data. Brands
that stood out are labelled.
JOURNALOFGLOBALFASHIONMARKETING 13
& Lee, 2013), most of the companies investigated here selectively disclosed only specic
type of information. Quantifying the dierences in corporate and supply chain disclosures
using a large sample of fashion brands enabled the research team to validate previous
qualitative studies conrming that the type of information shared is extremely dispropor-
tionate (Garcia-Torres et al., 2017;Sherman,2009).
This study also adds new insights, showing that policies and governance information
are prioritized for public release over any supply chain information. For example,
despite announcing the implementation of policies that regulate chemical use in
clothing production, no brand actually disclosed the list of chemicals banned for
specic products, even though this information would have a direct impact on
a producers health and safety, and similarly, it might aect the nal consumer.
Likewise, brands disclose commitment to support supplierseorts to increase worker
wages. However, no brand disclosed how their purchasing practices enabled supplier
wage increase, nor did they disclose the frequency of wage negotiation by elected trade
unions and/or workersrepresentatives. This is to say, having adequate policies is
desirable, but they should not represent a substitute for disclosing corresponding
supply chain information. If the business fails to acknowledge how unsustainable
practices drive behavior changes, reporting is likely to have for a company a high
burden. Furthermore, the inclination of retailers that operate in the same part of the
sector to have a similar absence of/or low levels of information visibility, across three
supply chain sub-areas, indicates that mass-market and luxury companies have almost
strategic approaches to creating public disclosure (Marshall et al., 2016). In the case of
mass-market brands, higher supply chain transparency in a specic area might repre-
sent reactive tackling previously questioned production practices (Ho, 2014). Likewise,
revealing supply chain information in the case of luxury brands is still optional as their
practices are not rmly questioned, nor is the release of information vigorously
demanded (Karaosman et al., 2017; Towers et al., 2013). Nevertheless, the fact that
the weakest supply chain sub-areas for both mass-market and luxury brands represents
traceability, and negative impact reporting raises other important concerns. Firstly, it
suggests that companies have a solid degree of knowledge about their suppliers
production procedures, and impacts, but due to reputation associated risks (Bendell
& Kleanthous, 2007; Kapferer, 2012), they intentionally avoid releasing such data.
Secondly, the absence of such information might also suggest that the company does
not yet have enough supply chain knowledge; thus, it is impossible for them to estimate
supply chain impacts, and to disclose that data. The problem is, however, that social
and environmental risks found in the retail industry are by 80% embedded in the
supply chain processes and not in the corporate direct operations (e.g. marketing,
distribution) (The State of Green business, 2012). Thus, un-disclosing critical supply
chain impacts such as workersrights, water use, or carbon emissions, might generate
controversies to explain business unresponsiveness and consequently diminishing
positive impacts that would be disclosed (Marshall et al., 2016). Similarly, withholding
supply chain information brings up even more harmful concern that these businesses
are unaccountable, to the extent that retailers cannot be trusted that their supply chain
is safe, ethical, and abuse-free, since they failed to publicly show concrete knowledge of
who their suppliers are.
14 I. JESTRATIJEVIC ET AL.
6.1. Practical implications
6.1.1. For brands
This studysndings might aid retailers to carefully re-negotiate priorities for future
sustainability disclosures while examining the strengths and weaknesses of recent disclosure
assessments. The research team believes that brand comparisons provide valuable insights
into best peer practices and critical areas that require greater industry attention. To improve
the overall relevance of sustainability disclosures, the indispensable task for retailers is to
grasp what an increasing demand for transparency means for their consumers, workers,
suppliers, and organization, and consequently what information has, for the general public,
a higher value. Increasing the substantive transparency of one phenomenon should not
makeothermorecriticalissueslessvisible,which ultimately leaves them poorly understood
(Gardner et al., 2018). For example, to increase the relevance of information released in the
negative impact reporting sub-area, the H&M Group should limit extensive information on
quantities of textile waste collected through close-the-loop initiative, on their corporate
websiteexplaining if, how, and in which amount the waste, internally collected, has been
reused or recycled. By making such, and similar changes, the information shared will not
sound deceptively impressive (Griskevicius et al., 2010),butitwillbecomemorerelevantto
information users. While embracing governmental (UN, CATSCA), non-governmental
(Ditty, 2017) and consumer demands for greater transparency (Hiller-Connell & Kozar,
2017),theentireapparelcommunityshouldgrasp how to make relevant disclosure more
accessible for public usage. The adoption of new tracking and tracing technologies may
greatly facilitate transparency potential, and make disclosure informative and interactive.
Conversely, in todays digitally transparent society, absolute lack of information may
instantly generate questions and controversies, and thus considerably hurt a brandsreputa-
tion (Marshall et al., 2016). Therefore, this study not only calls brands into action to improve
overall sustainability-related reporting, but to consider relevance, ecacy, and accessibility of
disclosed information.
6.1.2. For consumers
The brand comparisons provide valuable insightinto the kind of information retailers make
readily accessible for public usage. Consumers may use these ndings to better understand
the current state of sustainability disclosures and grasp which retailers scored high and
which retailers scored low, and why. Acknowledging one of the basic consumer rights, the
right to be informed,the research team believes that consumers deserve to know that the
clothing they purchase has not contributed to social or environmental degradation. Hence,
the lack of transparency among major retailers may inspire a growing number of sustain-
able-oriented consumers (Hiller-Connell & Kozar, 2017) to critically examine favorite
brands before making their next clothing purchases. By supporting and nancially reward-
ing brands that are embracing greater transparency and showing the full spectrum of
challenges their businesses are facing to achieve sustainability commitments, consumers
hold enormous power to facilitate overall industry amelioration and positive change.
6.1.3. For policy ocers
Results validate previous research (Ma et al., 2016)showing the weak implementation of
existing national laws (CATSCA) and international laws (REACH). If there is no
JOURNALOFGLOBALFASHIONMARKETING 15
inspection or no penalty for such violations, businesses will continue to generate enor-
mous prots, while the producers of goods sold will remain unseen, and the social and
environmental impacts will remain unknown.
6.2. Limitations and future research
To benchmark transparency among global retailers, an exploratory approach was taken,
and no inferential methods (p-values, condence intervals) were performed in the
analysis. Brands investigated by the index constitute the population for which any
ndings from this analysis hold. If brands made any improvements after the FTI 2017
was released (April 2017), information on those improvements would not be reected in
this study. Hence, for exploring disclosures created after April 2017, more recent indexes
might be used, and this studysndings might inform and facilitate such examinations.
This research represents an important rst step toward quantitatively assessing transpar-
ency in sustainability reporting among global fashion brands. Subsequent studies are
needed to analyze thoroughly the critical areas/sub-areas for sustainable reporting and to
suggest steps that would mitigate faster progress. It would be benecial to separately
explore the alignment between mass-market or luxury corporate and supply chain
information to further examine reasoning and means for creating strategic disclosure.
Disclosure statement
No potential conict of interest was reported by the authors.
ORCID
Iva Jestratijevic http://orcid.org/0000-0002-1776-335X
James Uanhoro http://orcid.org/0000-0002-4843-927X
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18 I. JESTRATIJEVIC ET AL.
... Clothing and fashion businesses are one of the world's biggest manufacturing and polluting industries (Oberlo, 2022), mostly due to over-consumption and the lack of a sustainable production (BBC, 2017;Forbes, 2021). Recently, consumers are becoming more concerned about the environmental consequences of their fashion choices (Phau et al., 2015;Kaewareelap et al., 2020;Sweetin et al., 2013;Omoloso et al., 2020), increasing companies' ethical behaviors (e.g., Jestratijevic, Rudd, and Uanhoro, 2020). Thus, fashion brands are engaging in more transparent CSR initiatives, such as Fair Trade (Eberhardt et al. 2020), the information transparency index (Williams, 2015), or sustainable initiatives (Parguel, Benoît-Moreau, and Larceneux, 2011). ...
... Transparency is a way of establishing positive relationships between consumers and corporations, under the communication of CSR efforts and information about the processes of the companies (Reynolds and Yuthas, 2008). Previous research suggests that the presence of transparent information improves consumers' evaluation of CSR messages (e.g., Jestratijevic et al. 2020). Notably, it is viewed as an effective strategy for companies to increase consumers' J o u r n a l P r e -p r o o f awareness of sustainable value (Lin et al., 2017), which in turn increases consumers' trust in the firm (Kitchin, 2003). ...
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Prior research indicates that transparency of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) claims increases consumers' positive reactions to the firm. However, this article suggests that this effect depends on the interplay between transparency cues (presence vs. absence) and brand strength (small vs. large). Our set of experimental studies examine the effect of information transparency and brand strength on consumers' purchasing intentions toward fashion products. Findings indicate a surprising effect of transparency cues: while its presence improves consumers' responses to CSR of small brands, it reduces consumers’ outcomes towards large brands. Results also suggest that trust mediates the effects since transparency cues boost consumers' trust toward small (vs. large) brands. This research further suggests that greenwashing practices as a boundary condition of transparency effects, since CSR communication with an honest (vs. greenwashing) focus fosters the transparency effects. The findings have important implications for effective CSR strategies in the fashion industry.
... Clothing and fashion businesses are one of the world's biggest manufacturing and polluting industries (Oberlo, 2022), mostly due to over-consumption and the lack of a sustainable production (BBC, 2017;Forbes, 2021). Recently, consumers are becoming more concerned about the environmental consequences of their fashion choices (Phau et al., 2015;Kaewareelap et al., 2020;Sweetin et al., 2013;Omoloso et al., 2020), increasing companies' ethical behaviors (e.g., Jestratijevic, Rudd, and Uanhoro, 2020). Thus, fashion brands are engaging in more transparent CSR initiatives, such as Fair Trade (Eberhardt et al. 2020), the information transparency index (Williams, 2015), or sustainable initiatives (Parguel, Benoît-Moreau, and Larceneux, 2011). ...
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... Fast fashion is a business model, where companies use low prices, and many new collections respond quickly to fashion trends (Byun and Sternquist, 2008). Prior research on information transparency has focused on important outcomes such as trust, and purchase intention (Kang and Hustvedt, 2014;Brandão et al., 2018), gender differences in brand schema (Bhaduri and Ha-Brookshire, 2015), source of message and attitude towards the message (Bhaduri and Ha-Brookshire, 2017), the type of information disclosed among luxury and mass-market fashion brands (Jestratijevic et al., 2020) among others. Prior research on fast fashion has touched a quite number of areas including sustainability concerns (McNeill and Moore, 2015;Niinimäki et al., 2020), willingness to pay (Tey, Brindal and Dibba, 2018), and sustainability and CSR efforts of fast fashion brands (Dach and Allmendinger, 2014;Bly et al., 2015;Shen, 2014). ...
Preprint
Prior research indicates that transparency of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) claims increases consumers' positive reactions to the firm. However, this article suggests that this effect depends on the interplay between transparency cues (presence vs. absence) and brand strength (small vs. large). Our set of experimental studies examine the effect of information transparency and brand strength on consumers' purchasing intentions toward fashion products. Findings indicate a surprising effect of transparency cues: while its presence improves consumers' responses to CSR of small brands, it reduces consumers’ outcomes towards large brands. Results also suggest that trust mediates the effects since transparency cues boost consumers' trust toward small (vs. large) brands. This research further suggests that greenwashing practices as a boundary condition of transparency effects, since CSR communication with an honest (vs. greenwashing) focus fosters the transparency effects. The findings have important implications for effective CSR strategies in the fashion industry.
... Clothing and fashion businesses are one of the world's biggest manufacturing and polluting industries (Oberlo, 2022), mostly due to over-consumption and the lack of a sustainable production (BBC, 2017;Forbes, 2021). Recently, consumers are becoming more concerned about the environmental consequences of their fashion choices (Phau et al., 2015;Kaewareelap et al., 2020;Sweetin et al., 2013;Omoloso et al., 2020), increasing companies' ethical behaviors (e.g., Jestratijevic, Rudd, and Uanhoro, 2020). Thus, fashion brands are engaging in more transparent CSR initiatives, such as Fair Trade (Eberhardt et al. 2020), the information transparency index (Williams, 2015), or sustainable initiatives (Parguel, Benoît-Moreau, and Larceneux, 2011). ...
... Transparency is a way of establishing positive relationships between consumers and corporations, under the communication of CSR efforts and information about the processes of the companies (Reynolds and Yuthas, 2008). Previous research suggests that the presence of transparent information improves consumers' evaluation of CSR messages (e.g., Jestratijevic et al. 2020). Notably, it is viewed as an effective strategy for companies to increase consumers' J o u r n a l P r e -p r o o f awareness of sustainable value (Lin et al., 2017), which in turn increases consumers' trust in the firm (Kitchin, 2003). ...
... Fast fashion is a business model, where companies use low prices, and many new collections respond quickly to fashion trends (Byun and Sternquist, 2008). Prior research on information transparency has focused on important outcomes such as trust, and purchase intention (Kang and Hustvedt, 2014;Brandão et al., 2018), gender differences in brand schema (Bhaduri and Ha-Brookshire, 2015), source of message and attitude towards the message (Bhaduri and Ha-Brookshire, 2017), the type of information disclosed among luxury and mass-market fashion brands (Jestratijevic et al., 2020) among others. Prior research on fast fashion has touched a quite number of areas including sustainability concerns (McNeill and Moore, 2015;Niinimäki et al., 2020), willingness to pay (Tey, Brindal and Dibba, 2018), and sustainability and CSR efforts of fast fashion brands (Dach and Allmendinger, 2014;Bly et al., 2015;Shen, 2014). ...
... However, few research findings compare the relative value of sustainability as a factor for apparel purchases [22]. Moreover, some researchers suggested that to convey the message of sustainable practices; transparency can play an important role [23][24][25][26]. Still, there is a lack of studies focused on the transparency of sustainable disclosures in the apparel industry [25]. ...
... Moreover, some researchers suggested that to convey the message of sustainable practices; transparency can play an important role [23][24][25][26]. Still, there is a lack of studies focused on the transparency of sustainable disclosures in the apparel industry [25]. Additionally, research examining the transparency of sustainability practices is scarce in the context of social media marketing. ...
Article
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With increased concern for environmental and social issues, consumers and the apparel industry have become more interested in the topic of sustainability. Numerous brands strive to reposition in sustainability by employing credible sources and maintaining information transparency to get consumers’ recognition. By employing the stimulus-organism-response (S-O-R) framework, this study experimented with how sustainability positioning with credible sources (EPA vs. Celebrity vs. Social Media Influencer) and high (vs. low) transparency influence brand attachment, trust, and identification, leading to eWOM and brand loyalty. The findings indicate that sustainable positioning with credible sources (i.e., EPA and Social Media influencers) could achieve consumers’ positive brand attachment, trust, and identification in social media marketing. However, we did not find evidence of the impact of high (vs. low) transparency on these dependable variables. Furthermore, brand loyalty and eWOM are significantly influenced by consumers’ brand attachment and trust, whereas brand identification positively affects brand loyalty only, not eWOM. Additionally, this study found that women and higher-income groups had a high preference for sustainable brands.
... Nevertheless, publishing information about first tier manufacturers is not a panacea to social and environmental abuses associated with the fashion industry. For instance, in their analysis of data collected from 100 of the most affluent fashion brands according to the levels of corporate and supply chain transparency, Jestratijevic, Rudd, and Uanhoro (2020) found that the type of information disclosed was selectively prioritized. Therefore, besides publishing factory-level information, a mechanism is needed to determine the accuracy, trustworthiness and auditability of the information disclosed. ...
Article
This paper investigates blockchain technology from a Triple Bottom Line (TBL) perspective. Transparency is vital for achieving accountability, improving the environmental footprint and ensuring that workers’ rights are respected. Blockchain-enabled capabilities provide opportunities to support improved information transparency to sub-suppliers and customers. Case study research is used within the complex multi-tier global fashion industry to explore the application of blockchain technology in enhancing TBL performance. This paper responds to calls from the literature to provide practice-based research on blockchain and supply chain management challenges. The research is based on three technology-based start-ups (at different Technology Readiness Levels (TRL)) and investigates their practical experiences to date, in transforming and advancing supply chain TBL. As this research focuses on the early adoption of blockchain technology within the fashion industry, it demonstrates the practicalities of implementation including its capabilities, operational improvements, challenges and limitations.
Conference Paper
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Os investidores no mundo parecem estar sob pressão para considerar o desempenho "S"-social como um componente em seus investimentos (Connellan, 2021; Fashion Transparency Index, 2017; INPACTO, 2020; Jestratijevic et al., 2020). Atualmente, as empresas precisam ser socialmente responsáveis, identificar impactos e desempenhos sociais e gerir fornecedores da cadeia de suprimentos para alcançar vantagens competitivas. Entretanto, ainda há poucas pesquisas relacionadas aos aspectos sociais da sustentabilidade no contexto da gestão de cadeia de suprimentos na dimensão social. Problema de Pesquisa e Objetivo Foi o que Köksal et al. (2018) apontou sobre a negligência empresarial aos problemas sociais em cadeia de suprimentos. Além disso, diversos stakeholders da cadeia de suprimentos projetam decisões para integrar os processos de aquisição, produção, entrega e atendimento ao cliente com uma fraca atenção às características sociais da sustentabilidade (Marshall et al., 2015; Seuring, 2004). O objetivo do artigo é compreender quais elementos da jornada da dimensão social são adotados em uma cadeia de suprimentos e como esses elementos são divulgados em um relatório de sustentabidade. Fundamentação Teórica As questões sociais estão relacionadas às práticas da saúde humana, ao bem-estar, ao trabalho e ao trabalho decente (Awan, 2019; Yawar & Seuring, 2017). Popovic et al. (2018) apresenta a dimensão dos direitos humanos como um avanço no acesso empresarial para a avaliação de indicadores de desempenho com foco na responsabilidade social corporativa-RSC. Para Fooks et al. (2013) e Morais & Silvestre (2018) os limites da responsabilidade social corporativa e a sustentabilidade social conecta diversos stakeholders "internos" com os "externos" por meio da identificação dos melhores padrões éticos. Metodologia O presente estudo busca compreender quais elementos da jornada da dimensão social são adotados em uma cadeia de suprimentos e como esses elementos são divulgados em um relatório de sustentabilidade. A principal característica estudada na dimensão social foi o trabalho análogo à escravidão. Para alcançar esse objetivo, optou-se por uma pesquisa qualitativa descritiva exploratória. A técnica de análise de dados foi a análise de conteúdo. Quanto aos dados coletados, o estudo analisou dados primários da empresa GRD e do instituto InPacto, ambas realizadas em 2022. Análise dos Resultados A detecção e remediação relacionadas às questões sociais são elementos que foram inseridos em um sistema com uma arquitetura orientada a tripé da sustentabilidade-pessoas, planeta e lucro: "a gente tem hoje um sistema que chama SIS, que é o da TBL (triple bottom line), a gente coleta as informações, principalmente ambientais". O combate ao trabalho escravo em cadeia partir no contexto da jornada da dimensão social "S" revelam diversas oportunidades de melhoria na parte interna da empresa GRD e na parte externa com os fornecedores. Conclusão Os resultados do estudo contribuem para identificar uma visão da dimensão social especificamente associada ao trabalho escravo em cadeias de suprimentos, pois ainda representa um enorme desafio no reconhecimento do problema. Primeiro porque há uma necessidade em ampliar o debate acadêmico e empresarial da dimensão social e, em segundo lugar, porque o trabalho análogo à escravidão parece ser mencionado em alguns relatórios de sustentabilidade, mas ainda alcança níveis de engajamento simbólicos com fornecedores mais distantes dos elos mais economicamente representativos. Referências Bibliográficas KÖKSAL, D.; STRÄHLE, J.; MÜLLER, M. Social sustainability in apparel supply chains-The role of the sourcing intermediary in a developing country.
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Scientific research of all kinds should be guided by statistical thinking: in the design and conduct of the study, in the disciplined exploration and enlightened display of the data, and to avoid statistical pitfalls in the interpretation of the results. However, formal, probability-based statistical inference should play no role in most scientific research, which is inherently exploratory, requiring flexible methods of analysis that inherently risk overfitting. The nature of exploratory work is that data are used to help guide model choice, and under these circumstances, uncertainty cannot be precisely quantified, because of the inevitable model selection bias that results. To be valid, statistical inference should be restricted to situations where the study design and analysis plan are specified prior to data collection. Exploratory data analysis provides the flexibility needed for most other situations, including statistical methods that are regularized, robust, or nonparametric. Of course, no individual statistical analysis should be considered sufficient to establish scientific validity: research requires many sets of data along many lines of evidence, with a watchfulness for systematic error. Replicating and predicting findings in new data and new settings is a stronger way of validating claims than blessing results from an isolated study with statistical inferences.
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This work, set in the context of the apparel industry, proposes an action-oriented disclosure tool to help solve the sustainability challenges of complex fast-fashion supply chains (SCs). In a search for effective disclosure, it focusses on actions towards sustainability instead of the measurements and indicators of its impacts. We applied qualitative and quantitative content analysis to the sustainability reporting of the world's two largest fast-fashion companies in three phases. First, we searched for the challenges that the organisations report they are currently facing. Second, we introduced the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework to overcome the voluntary reporting drawback of 'choosing what to disclose', and revealed orphan issues. This broadened the scope from internal corporate challenges to issues impacting the ecosystems in which companies operate. Third, we analysed the reported sustainability actions and decomposed them into topics, instruments, and actors. The results showed that fast-fashion reporting has a broadly developed analysis base, but lacks action orientation. This has led us to propose the 'Fast-Fashion Sustainability Scorecard' as a universal disclosure framework that shifts the focus from (i) reporting towards action; (ii) financial performance towards sustainable value creation; and (iii) corporate boundaries towards value creation for the broader SC ecosystem.
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Although sustainability in the fashion industry has gained prominence from both business practices and academic research, retailing, a vital part of the supply chain, has not yet been fairly explored in academia. The interest in this area has increased lately, mainly due to the growing complexity within this dynamic context. Therefore, it is meaningful to conduct a systematic review of the relevant published literature in this field. This study aims to identify the main perspectives of research on sustainable retailing in the fashion industry. The content analysis results indicate that the most prominent areas in the field are sustainable retailing in disposable fashion, fast fashion, slow fashion, green branding and eco-labeling; retailing of secondhand fashion; reverse logistics in fashion retailing; and emerging retailing opportunities in e-commerce. The results from this review also indicate that there is a lack of research on sustainable retailing in the fashion industry in the developing market.
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Over the last few decades rapid advances in processes to collect, monitor, disclose, and disseminate information have contributed towards the development of entirely new modes of sustainability governance for global commodity supply chains. However, there has been very little critical appraisal of the contribution made by different transparency initiatives to sustainability and the ways in which they can (and cannot) influence new governance arrangements. Here we seek to strengthen the theoretical underpinning of research and action on supply chain transparency by addressing four questions: (1) What is meant by supply chain transparency? (2) What is the relevance of supply chain transparency to supply chain sustainability governance? (3) What is the current status of supply chain transparency, and what are the strengths and weaknesses of existing initiatives? and (4) What propositions can be advanced for how transparency can have a positive transformative effect on the governance interventions that seek to strengthen sustainability outcomes? We use examples from agricultural supply chains and the zero-deforestation agenda as a focus of our analysis but draw insights that are relevant to the transparency and sustainability of supply chains in general. We propose a typology to distinguish among types of supply chain information that are needed to support improvements in sustainability governance, and illustrate a number of major shortfalls and systematic biases in existing information systems. We also propose a set of ten propositions that, taken together, serve to expose some of the potential pitfalls and undesirable outcomes that may result from (inevitably) limited or poorly designed transparency systems, whilst offering guidance on some of the ways in which greater transparency can make a more effective, lasting and positive contribution to sustainability.
Book
Fully revised and updated, the second edition of Sustainable Fashion and Textiles: Design Journeys continues to define the field of design in fashion and textiles. Arranged in two sections, the first four chapters represent key stages of the lifecycle: material cultivation/extraction, production, use and disposal. The remaining four chapters explore design approaches for altering the scale and nature of consumption, including service design, localism, speed and user involvement. While each chapter is complete in and of itself, their real value comes from what they represent together: innovative ways of thinking about textiles and garments based on sustainability values and an interconnected approach to design. Including a new preface, updated content and a new conclusion reflecting and critiquing developments in the field, as well as discussing future developments, the second edition promises to provide further impetus for future change, sealing Sustainable Fashion and Textiles: Design Journeys asthe must-buy book for fashion and textiles professionals and students interested in sustainability.
Chapter
Pressure over sustainability is constantly growing. Luxury goods companies are thus required to prioritize their corporate goals and to integrate sustainability into upstream supply chains (SCs). Nevertheless, it is getting difficult to find sustainable partners as a consequence of globally dispersed fashion SCs (FSCs). In order to commit to business sustainability, a luxury goods company must address and appraise not only its own but also its suppliers’ social and environmental performance. While there have been efforts in assessing environmental sustainability, to date, there are still gaps in the current literature in terms of social sustainability assessment and to what extent social sustainability could be integrated into contemporary decision-making processes. Prior research stress that having an integrated approach to investigate interactions among social, economic, and environmental dimensions is more practical than applying deep yet disconnected investigation in only one dimension. Nonetheless, it is important to underline that sustainability indicators do not ensure the same impact on all industries; henceforth sector-specific assessment frameworks need a further investigation. This study therefore attempts to synthesise both current and novel components in a comprehensive framework to appraise sustainability performance. The main contribution of this study is the proposition of a 360 Degrees Performance Appraisal model to evaluate the impact of SC operations on sustainability. Hence, this chapter provides an understanding of (i) how SC of a luxury goods company must be configured toward sustainability, (ii) how sustainability performance must be assessed through incorporation of a wide range of stakeholders, and (iii) how sustainability could be further advanced in luxury FSCs. Not only could this tool provide an integrated approach to value sustainability by encompassing all related stakeholders associated, but it could also help luxury fashion companies monitor, interpret and further improve their suppliers’ and sub-contractors’ sustainability performance.
Chapter
Since there is no denying that transparency is increasingly central to corporate sustainability, the purpose of this paper is a case study on a company’s attempt to be fully transparent, hence, picking up the existent scholarly conversation about uncompromising supply chain transparency. Literature so far was found to be fairly limited, but, following a trend, has been rising in numbers over recent years. Addressing these shortcomings in the methodology, an in-depth literature review about the multiple dimensions of supply chain transparency has been performed and links within supply networks stressed. On this basis, a case study by exemplary illustrating the fashion label Honest by has been drafted and the effort to become the world’s first 100 % transparent company further examined. Findings are discussed whether more supply chain transparency is desirable in any case, obstacles listed and an outlook for this kind of business model has been drawn. The research is clearly limited by the amount of scholarly literature concerning Honest by in particular. Out of this reason, magazines and journal entries are used as reference as well. Only with the extension of the topic itself to supply chain transparency and the literature review beforehand, the paper gained its necessary academic standard. Concerning implications, it needs to be mentioned that even though Honest by demonstrates to be fully transparent, it was not possible to find any public information about the degree of supplier relationship. In particular, concerning the applied control mechanisms used to exert influence and to balance out the power gradient between company and suppliers.