More and more customers are in demand of precise informations about their clothes and want to know how they were produced. Numerous scandals about working conditions in the fashion industry led to the rise of a collective awareness of these issues and most brands had no choice but to adapt themselves to these new expectations.
Created in San Francisco in 2011 by Michael Preysman, Everlane is a brand that is based most of all on transparency. Its moto is “Radical transparency“. It claims to be transparent on its costs, on its production process and on its prices. This concept is definitely successful : it generated 12 million dollars of income in 2013 and this amount doubled in 2014 according to Bloomberg. Matching an increasing demand of transparency, the brand easily found its audience.
Is the brand really that transparent?
Racked, website specialised in retail is not fully convinced :
“For all its talk of transparency, Everlane is extremely tightlipped about internal goings-on. Preysman was the only employee offered up for this story, and no one from the design or creative teams was made available to be interviewed. Repeated requests to visit the brand’s New York office were declined.”
The website especially points out some grey areas about the brand’s production line, particularly about the factories it works with. A whole storytelling was built with nice photographs, informations about the country where they are located and about their employees, but they are only called “The travel bag factory” or “The casual wovens factory” and no precise address is communicated. On this subject, H&M is more transparent : 98,5% of its factories and suppliers are clearly identified with their name and address.
Michael Preysman talked to the Wall Street Journal about this issue in 2013. The exact addresses would be secret in order to protect the economic interests of the company. Indeed, sourcing these partners is a long work and the brand wants to prevent itself from its concurrents. But some manufacturers publicly claim they work with Everlane and don’t respect this secret. The brand could legally compel them to be more discrete but it doesn’t do it.
As a result, we can think that the only reason for this silence is that its partners are not as ethic as Everlane claims they are. For example, some manufacturers were accused of not respecting the labor law in vigor in their country. Moreover, the criteria used for their audits are quite blury. Zara is more transparent when it comes to this issue : the Inditex group publishes its official rules for its manufacturers and suppliers on its website.
Therefore, we see that on some aspects, Fast Fashion’s giants are as transparent as a brand like Everlane, maybe even more. The interest of the consumers for this issue is increasing but traceability is not total yet. In order to make it easier, technology can be a good solution, with the use for blockchain for instance, as used by Babyghost for its last fashion show, or by the Provenance startup. To learn more about this, you can find our articles about this subject (1,2).
Do you believe in tech providing an enhanced experience for consumers? Let us know what you think of blockchain in fashion & share your thoughts in the commentary section below ;-)
You can also watch our panel talk at Numa Paris, where we had the chance to speak with Thibaut Schaeffer, Blockchain Engineer at Provenance (a startup using Blockchain for a more transparent supply chain)!
Post written by Amandine Richardot, Contributing Writer
Graduate from Sciences Po Paris, Amandine is passionate about digital and how technologies change our society. She applied this understanding in various sectors, like fashion, advertising and food.