A new transparency index from Fashion Revolution has ranked 250 of the world's leading brands on how they communicate their social policies.

The index scores brands against 55,000 data points that assess factors such as animal welfare, biodiversity, climate, due diligence, forced labor, and living wages. At the top of the list was Swedish high street behemoth H&M with a 73 percent grading against their data points. For reference, the average score for the 250 brands in the ranking was just 23 percent.

According to Fashion Revolution, any score over 70 indicates that brands are taking demonstrable steps to improve the transparency of their social and environmental practices. Sportswear giants adidas and Reebok scored 69 percent, while Gucci scored 40 percent. Bally, Maxmara, and Tom Ford clearly have some work to do, having scored zero percent.

An eyebrow-raising statistic from the report reveals that only two percent of brands pay above minimum wage to workers in the supply chain, with Patagonia the only brand to disclose data on their supply-chain workers earning above the living wage.

As always with these data studies, it's worth bearing in mind the small print. To be included in the ranking, brands must incur an annual turnover of over $400m across either sportswear, luxury, or high street fashion. That means smaller, more ethically-mindful names like ASKET — previously explored in this piece — would not have met the criteria to be included. When discussing H&M's case in particular, transparency does not equal sustainability, which many believe the fast fashion strategy remains inherently incompatible with.

In a statement released this morning, Fashion Revolution operations director Carey Somers points to how the pandemic and its ongoing effects on the fashion supply chain has exposed the industry's shaky infrastructure. "The crisis has brought to light the systemic problems within the industry and revealed just how fragile the system really is," she says. "For decades, brands have chased ever-cheaper production and factories operating on impossibly tight margins, consequently, workers’ wages and rights have been squeezed."

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