In an annual report by Fashion Revolution—an organisation based in the UK that aims to work towards an ethical way of producing clothes—luxury fashion houses Gucci, Bottega Veneta and Saint Laurent come out tops among its contemporaries as the most transparent. But based on the Fashion Transparency Index, they barely hit the mark of being at least 50% transparent in their practices.
Devised by Fashion Revolution, the Fashion Transparency Index is calculated based on five key areas. Each fashion company is judged on Policy and Commitments—mainly surrounding social and environmental impacts; Governance—whether there is a dedicated head that's in-charge of implementing such commitments; Traceability—the availability of details on its supply chain; Know, Show and Fix—with regards to supply chain issues; and Spotlight Issues—how the brand is tackling hot topic issues such as diversity, gender equality and sustainability. Each area carries a different weight in the final calculation of the Fashion Transparency Index, with Traceability making up a majority while Governance the least.
There are also criteria for the brands that have been selected. Only brands with an annual turnover of over USD500 million, and with information that are publicly available are part of the study.
Among the luxury fashion houses, Gucci scored the highest with 40 percent transparency, while Bottega Veneta and Saint Laurent came in close with 39 percent and 38 percent respectively. Based on the report, Gucci scored impressively across Policy and Commitments, Governance, and Spotlight Issues. Where it failed was on Traceability (a mere one percent) and Know, Show and Fix (29 percent). Bottega Veneta and Saint Laurent scored similarly across the key areas.
While luxury fashion brands pride themselves on having the 'Made in Italy' or 'Made in France' stamps, there is still the reluctance of being more open about their supply chain processes. Brands such as Tom Ford and Dolce&Gabbana, were among the lowest scoring luxury fashion brands.
It could be said that luxury brands tend to prefer to be discreet about their supply chains, because of the risks involved when being open—one of which is the already rampant distribution of high-grade imitation goods available. However, by not moving towards being more transparent, these brands run the risk of discouraging a growing number of customers who are increasingly more concerned about the ethical and sustainable processes of their purchases. At a time where information can be easily accessed and news (legit or otherwise) can spread like wildfire, it does help to know where a luxury product is made, how the materials are sourced, and the conditions in which the product is being created.
After all, what is the point of luxury—a creation that should be a product of skilled artisans—if the processes that lead to the end, are not entirely what they claim to be. The idea of buying into luxury is buying into the craftsmanship and dedication of a brand in providing the best, and that should be reflected in all of its processes as well.
In comparison, the highest scoring brands as reported by the Fashion Transparency Index study are Adidas, Reebok and H&M.