What is transparency?

Transparency means being open and honest about where, when, and how a garment was made through every step of the fashion value chain, from the sourcing of raw materials to your local retail store.
Image by Magda Ehlers.

1 August 2023

Over the past few years, there’s been a significant increase in the demand for and interest in sustainable fashion, driven by both consumers and the industry. This stems from a growing awareness of the reality of climate change and the environmental impact of the fashion industry, combined with the desire to choose better alternatives to help in the transition towards a more sustainable and circular industry. 

As the demand for sustainability grows, more and more brands commit to Science-based targets (SBTi) and publish annual reports on their sustainability goals and strategies. However, not all of them are transparent about their entire supply chain (where scope 3 emissions sit), nor are they sharing third-party backed data, allowing them to make unsubstantiated claims. According to the latest Transparency Index report published by Fashion Revolution, over half of major brands (51%) publish targets on sustainable materials, yet only 44% provide information on what constitutes a sustainable material. 1

This means that a brand could claim, for instance, that they have produced a “100% eco-friendly” t-shirt because it is made out of sustainable materials. However, upon closer inspection, we realise that the production methods used to make that t-shirt are harmful to the environment. We would have no way of knowing this without a transparent supply chain. In this way, transparency is key to solving greenwashing and avoiding misleading claims from brands and retailers.2

Transparency is the practice of sharing true and verified information about the entire fashion value chain: where materials are being sourced, the processing methods used, how much waste is created and how is that waste being disposed of, etc. In doing so, transparency allows consumers, investors, NGOs, and governments to hold the fashion industry accountable for its impact and make room for change. 

When it comes to making real strides towards a more sustainable and circular industry that aligns with the 1.5 degrees target of the Paris Agreement, we cannot address the problems that we cannot see. Transparency is therefore essential for sustainability as “it provides a window into the places, conditions, and practices in which our clothes are being made.

There are already many exciting emerging innovations focusing on transparency, many of which are part of our Innovation Programme:


1. Fashion Revolution (2023). Fashion Transparency Index 2023: A spotlight on how much information the world’s largest fashion brands disclose about their supply chain practices and impacts, to fuel your activism and drive greater accountability. Available here.

2. However, transparency alone is not enough to solve greenwashing. We also need standardisation and harmonisation of data and create a shared understanding of what is considered ‘eco-friendly’ and ‘sustainable’. Governmental policy and legislation is also key to regulate and enforce industry compliance. For more on this, read the EU Green Claims Directive.

3. Fashion Revolution (2023). Fashion Transparency Index 2023. Available here.

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