Dear Fashion Brands and Retailers,
In light of the revelations of forced Uighur labour in the Chinese Xinjiang region and the global call to action by 190+ international organisations, it is of utmost importance that we talk about the importance of traceability. Without traceability, we cannot improve transparency, which in turn is a must for safeguarding human rights and eradicating modern slavery.
H&M Group announced on 15 September 2020, that it would be conducting a review of all the Chinese garment factories that they work with, to make sure that no workers from the Xinjiang region are being employed through what is reported on as labour transfer programmes or employment schemes, where forced labour is an increased risk. Since it has become increasingly difficult to conduct credible due diligence in the region, BCI (Better Cotton Initiative) has decided to suspend licensing of BCI cotton in the Xinjiang region and as a result, H&M Group and its suppliers will also stop the sourcing of BCI cotton from farms connected to the region, and work further towards strengthening the traceability of cotton.
What more can brands and retailers do to ensure that not only environmental, but also social change is kept at the forefront of their agendas?
This is an important topic that will be discussed further at CFS +, in a live session featuring CEO and Founder of Outland Denim, James Bartle, Baroness Lola Young of Hornsey and Professor Kevin Bales. Working with Professor Kevin Bales has proved invaluable for Outland Denim, a brand that was initially founded in response to the problem of Modern Slavery. Baroness Lola Young of Hornsey, a member of the House of Lords, has been essential in moving forward the Modern Slavery Act (2015), while Professor of Contemprorary Slavery, Kevin Bales co-founded US NGO Free the Slaves (2000) – a group which has liberated thousands of slaves worldwide. By implementing academic research and policy into their business model, Outland Denim has shown that this of kind of collaborative business model can function as a positive way forward for the industry and the people it employs.
Can this collaborative model be adopted by other brands? Find out at CFS+ on 12-13 october, by registering for free here. And if you would like to read more about improving tracebility and transparency, you can read our CEO Agenda report here.