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With growing globalisation, the fashion industry’s supply chain has become more complex and decentralised. At the same time consumers are increasingly asking for more information about where, how and by whom their purchased items were produced. Visibility in the value chain is vital for companies to understand the social as well as the environmental impact of their business practices and products. Many companies have also realised that in order to establish more trust and loyalty with their customers, they need to become more transparent and make their traceability efforts public. In the Pulse of Fashion Industry 2018report we look into cases that have done so successfully.

Icebreaker, a merino wool outdoor brand from New Zealand, is one of these companies. The brand has revealed its entire value chain including the full list of suppliers, from tier one to tier four, covering 100% of the sourced fabric and 90% of the fibres that come from direct suppliers. This boosted the relationships with both the end consumer as well as the suppliers themselves, ensuring increased trust and more efficient work process from start to finish. The published supplier information contains supplier names, location, number of employees, workers’ gender distribution, percentage of migrant workers, length of cooperation with Icebreaker, and the date of the last audit with full disclosure of its results.

Formerly concerned about revealing too much to its competitors, Icebreaker now places its traceability and transparency efforts at the forefront. The key outcomes of the company’s commitment include 100% directly-sourced fabric and garments supported by responsible purchasing practices to avoid human rights risks. 

The merino wool brand also brought in chemical control and waste management policies that are now required by all its factories. This has all been concluded into Icebreaker’s public pledge to transparency and continuous improvement.

“Transparency and traceability are at the foundation of our business. It is a commitment to full and regular public disclosure of all policies, procedures, progress and real-world impacts on workers, animals, communities and the environment. For Icebreaker, this means opening all our decisions up to scrutiny and assessment. Put simply, our ‘inside’ needs to be the same as our ‘outside’ and we accept responsibility for all of it.”

- Greg Smith, CEO, Icebreaker

Read more about traceability in the Pulse of the Fashion Industry 2018report, published by Global Fashion Agenda and The Boston Consulting Group, pages 34-35 and in the CEO Agenda.