This article was originally posted on City A.M. on the 21st of July 2020 and authored by Provenance founder & CEO, Jessi Baker.
Modern slavery is a pandemic. No brand today should be “shocked and appalled” at what happens in its own supply chain, as fast fashion brand Boohoo recently claimed to be. To know so little about the sourcing, processes and practices involved in creating a product you sell should be a crime itself.
Tales of UK-based sweatshops and modern slavery have, unfortunately, been making national headlines for years. But 2020 marks a watershed moment, with the story now set against the backdrop of a devastating health pandemic, a global recession, and surge in activism around the world.
In this case, as in so many other areas, change will almost certainly be driven by commercial risk. We have already seen the impact on share prices as shareholders dump stock in fallen brands like Boohoo. As shoppers become even more aware about the impact of their purchasing decisions, this is only set to continue.
Increasingly, consumers are looking beyond the price of an item to make their decisions. According to 2018 research from Edelman, some 60 per cent of shoppers say a brand should make it easier to see its values and position on important issues at the point of sale. More and more, they are voting with their wallets to reward brands that put responsibility — whether social or environment — at the heart of their business, from Tony Chocolonely challenging the whole cocoa industry with slave-free chocolates, to Oatly disrupting the milk market with plant-based alternatives…
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