About a month ago I talked about the #GoTransparent campaign, an initiative launched by Human Rights Watch and the International Labor Rights Forum together with Clean Clothes Campaign, which asked several brands of clothing and footwear to publish information on the factories, including the addresses and the number of workers, from which their products come. Many of the brands involved did it promptly, making public their supply chain, while others, namely Forever 21, Urban Outfitters, Walmart, Primark and Armani, proved more reticent.
Until a few days ago, when Primark, the Irish department store brand that is located all over Europe (recently opened in Italy) and in the United States, has finally joined the campaign by publishing a list of all suppliers related to its business, with names and addresses of over one thousand factories in 31 countries, together with the number of workers in each factory and the gender split of the workforce.
Paul Lister, head of Ethical Trade Team of Primark, said to the German press agency Reuters, that the reason for reticence were due to due to competition issues but it is certain that the pressures received by the activists who, in addition to collecting more than 70,000 signatures with #GoTransparent, have delivered golden gift-wrapped boxes to its stores, had their effect. “Primark has not published details of its suppliers’ factories up to now, as we regarded this information as giving us commercial advantage. However, with 98% of the factories making products for Primark also manufacturing for other brands, and with a number of those retailers now publishing details of their sourcing, we have taken the decision to share our information”. These are the exact words of Lister, who in the past was asked several times for accusations against the Irish giant of large retailers, accusations concerning the exploitation of child labor, especially after the release of a BBC documentary entitled ‘Primark: on the rack ‘. But from an in-depth analysis the movie did not seem authentic because of the inconsistencies, so much so that the TV channel had to apologize for the bad publicity.
However, what Primark claims today is not just about having partners like the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), a UK leading alliance committed to defending workers’ rights around the world, and as the Better Work Program of the International Labor Organization ( ILO), which deals with the control of industrial standards, but also that factories that manufactured its products must demonstrate, for the first year of collaboration, to be able to maintain the required ethical standards, as well as commercial requirements in areas such as quality and timely delivery.
To get more information on Primark’s sustainable policies, however, you can go to the brand’s website under ‘our ethics’, while we expect the other four brands to answer the question: “who made my clothes?”.