In Search of Transparency: The Data Problem of Fashion


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One of the biggest challenges facing the fashion industry in its efforts to become more responsible and sustainable is bad data. While companies are under increasing pressure to provide more information about working conditions and greenhouse gas emissions, the data they share is limited and often of questionable quality. During the BoF Professional Summit: Closing Fashion’s Sustainability Gap, Linda E. Greer, a global fellow at the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs and a member of BoF’s Sustainability Council, joined BoF London editor Sarah Kent for a discussion of the bad data of fashion. influencing its sustainability efforts.

  • Companies often do not have an overview of their own supply chains, so that working conditions and environmental impact are not properly registered or addressed. Full transparency of the supply chain is critical for businesses to track and collect data.

  • This lack of transparency also prevents companies from taking responsibility for working conditions and the environmental footprint of their vast global supply chains. “There is a level where the lack of transparency works for these companies, as it allows them to perpetuate the status quo,” said Greer.

  • Tighter regulations would force companies to do more, but if not, Greer recommends that companies look at the emissions from their manufacturing base first. “If you don’t, you’re just not in the game,” said Greer.

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