Corporate Social Responsibility and Radical Transparency

By Kamryn Fortmeier

The fashion industry is an ever-evolving field; recently, trends such as corporate social responsibility (CSR) and radical transparency have gained traction from both companies and consumers. Due to our environmental climate, we as a society are working toward a more sustainable way of living, and the textile industry is no exception. Because of fast fashion culture, clothing that moves quickly from store to runway or consumer to garbage, both quality and sustainability in our textiles have been compromised. However, through radical transparency and corporate social responsibility, we are giving consumers and companies a glimpse into sustainable fashion. 


What is CSR and Radical Transparency? 

Corporate social responsibility is the practice of sustainable development by delivering economic, social, and environmental benefits for all stakeholders. CSR aims to ensure that companies conduct their business in a way that is ethical. This means taking account of their social, economic, and environmental impacts, and the consideration of human rights. Radical transparency is the belief that all corporations, organizations, and businesses should be straightforward and honest.  In the fashion industry, radical transparency is the process in which companies give consumers a production breakdown of their garment from concept to reality.  

In a 2015 Global CSR Study, they found that approximately 90% of consumers would boycott a company if poor business practices were used. They also uncovered that 91% of global consumers expect companies to operate responsibly to address a wide range of social and environmental issues.  This proves that these sustainable trends are not only on the rise but becoming imperative to maintain customer loyalty. 


Current Trends

Radical transparency is becoming increasingly popular among clothing and production companies. Today, millennials not only expect a brand to have a positive image, but also leave a positive impact. This is why companies such as Adidas, Patagonia, and Everlane are so successful among younger generations.  

Adidas is a major fashion brand that has been very vocal about its CSR campaigns. Adidas has collaborated with other brands and nonprofits to reduce its overall impact. Two of the most popular collaborations are  Adidas by Stella McCartney and Adidas’ partnership with Parley for the Oceans. As a company, they have been very public about their intentions to change the world of sport and business to make for a more sustainable future: “At adidas, our core belief is that through sport, we have the power to change lives. This becomes particularly relevant when we talk about the impact we have with our sustainability work. We are one of the very few companies that integrate sustainability into their business model, which becomes most visible in the fact that we take sustainability to the product level.” 

Everlane is another fashion company making strides in sustainable fashion. They pride themselves on sourcing the finest materials, securing the most ethical factories and sharing their production journey with the consumer every step of the way. Through their radical transparency approach to fashion, they break down the cost of materials, labor, transport, and duties so the customer is able to see exactly what the company is charging and gaining as a profit.  

Together, these companies are making for a more sustainable industry and not only creating a positive company image, but also a positive impact.  


Sustainable Startups 

Startups are also working toward a more sustainable and transparent industry such as Fair Frank, Reformation, and Kool and Konscious. 

Fair Frank is an Italian shoe company that prides themselves in their transparent business practices. Deemed the future of fair trade, Fair Frank is devoted to creating a handmade, high quality, and ethically sourced product while also supporting communities in Africa. 

Another company practicing radical transparency is Kool and Konscious. Because the fashion industry is the second biggest polluter in the world, Kool and Konscious believes it’s their responsibility to transform the industry. They aim to eliminate the environmental and moral footprint of fashion by offering the largest selection of eco friendly and ethically sourced products and materials. Kool and Konscious provides brands with the latest trends in fashion while operating as a sustainable company embracing the technological advancements in AI to decrease the fashion footprint. Reformation is another company in the fashion world working toward a more sustainable future. 

Reformation is known for their high quality products and ethically sourced materials. Their goal is to reform the fashion industry by not only using sustainable materials, but also following ethical business practices. On their website you are able to see the employees who are making the garments at their factory in Los Angeles, CA. They host factory tours so customers are able to see garment production, operation, and transparent business practices.

Radical transparency and corporate social responsibility are transforming the ever-evolving fashion industry. Because of these trends, consumers are shopping smarter and companies are sourcing smarter. It is imperative that these companies continue to work toward a more sustainable future for the fashion industry, not only to maintain a positive image, but also to decrease their footprint.  

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Everything you need to know about how corporations and startups are doing their part in sustainability.

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