Fashion Revolution Week 2017: How Retailers Can Increase Brand Transparency

It’s not news that brand activism is sending shockwaves through the retail industry (we’ve been chronicling the growing public sentiment here and here). The end of 2016 and this year in particular, has galvanised society and global consumers within our society to use their voice more, and use their spending power to create change. Consumers are more vocal than they have ever been (just look at complaints or excited posts on a brand’s social media feed). The new consumer will tell you exactly how they feel about your brand and the combined people power of them, their friends, and their social media followings can help your brand go viral or start trending immediately.

This louder consumer voice is particularly important when we are talking about sustainability and ethics in fashion and retail. While Fashion Revolution Week, which was originally just a day, was set up after the Rana Plaza Factory collapse in 2013, the social campaign is really finding its voice, with the message is spreading further and wider. No longer is sustainable fashion an embarrassing word. Ethical fashion labels are on the rise, the stylish element continues to improve and better yet the consumer is getting more clued up on what really matters (promoting wastefulness is out, nobody needs that many white t-shirts) it’s all about the rise of the smart, savvy shopper. Consumers, especially Millennials, are more conscious about their purchases and demanding change regarding how brands position themselves in political, economic and social scenarios.

This week, Fashion Revolution Week 2017 celebrates transparency, but how can brands and major retailers achieve it? And better yet how can it help your business? Well, according to the 2015 Nielsen Global Corporate Sustainability Report, in 2015, sales of consumer goods from brands with a demonstrated commitment to sustainability grew more than 4% globally, while those without grew less than 1%. The report also said 66% of respondents would pay more for sustainable goods.


Here’s three ways that retailers can overhaul their business and strategy plan to create a more eco-friendly brand.

Long term partnerships over low cost: Closer collaboration with key suppliers will be crucial to meeting the rapidly-evolving consumer demands for transparency. It’s more important than ever to find the right partners and commit to them long term on a strategic level instead of chasing the lowest cost.

Supplier certification process made easy and digital: Make sure the certification and inspection process is digitalised throughout the supply chain so the everything is traceable and comparable. This will allow more regular inspection to discover problems early on and enable better decision making.

Get ready to disclose info: From sharing aspirational targets a few years ago to revealing vendor lists today, retailers are under pressure to disclose more and more detailed information about their social and environmental impact, such as factory locations, audit methodology and results.


Passionate about this topic? We’ll be talking more about the future of brand activism at our upcoming event WGSN Futures London in May 25th, come join in the debate. 


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