Every year in July, the Fashion Revolution organisation publishes a transparency index . This study measures the production impact of over 250 important clothing brands, on both social and environmental tangents, by analysing the policies and practices enacted by these companies throughout their operations. Zara (Inditex), Patagonia and Gildan are among the companies under survey.
Coincidentally, July marks our transition toward a new fiscal year: an opportunity for us to evaluate our finances, and plan for the upcoming year.
Why is this important?
The urgency to undertake radical measures to reduce our carbon footprint and ensure the well-being of all living things must be made a top priority.
Yet how can we improve and invest in the right areas if we truly have no idea of the different steps and people involved in making our clothes?
Often, when a tag implies “Made in Canada”, only the cutting and sewing steps of the process are considered. We often discard all the steps leading to creating the fabric, without which there wouldn’t be a garment at all.
For the longest time, brands chose to withhold information about their production process to maximise profits. This includes material origins, their transformation, the countries involved, the chemicals used, waste management but also worker conditions and salaries.
Government policies have allowed (and still do) brands to fly under the radar as no law forces brands to publicly disclose this information. Therefore, as mentioned in our latest article on ethical production, many bills are currently being evaluated in the United-States and Europe.
According to the 2022 Fashion Revolution transparency index, 50% of large clothing brands publish little to no information on their production chain.
It’s a shame, as transparency is a key element to improving practices and sharing knowledge, not to mention enacting positive change for more durable production.
State of global production 2020
Textile Exchange Preferred Fiber and Materials Market Report 2021
In 2020, synthetic fibers (polyester, spandex, nylon…) represented 62% of the market. Experts estimate that this portion could reach 45% as of 2030. Of the 26.2% represented by cotton, only one third represents more durable sources (GOTS, Better cotton, Fairtrade…).
What about Montloup in all this?
That’s the total number of meters we produced this past fiscal year (2021/2022).
100% of our knitting process activities are based in Montreal, and all the dyeing and finishing touches are done in Ontario. 100% of the people involved in these key steps are paid fair wages, never under the legal minimum wage which mostly applies to newbies in the sector of activity. Experienced workers have more bountiful salaries. Health and security norms are also respected.
The steps we must work on are fibre production and their transformation into thread.
For all our GOTS certified cotton thread, workers must answer to conditions established by the International Labour Organisation (security, salary, vacation…). Same goes for thread made in the US. To make sure of this, we intend on visiting the companies we are working with in the upcoming year.
As for our hemp or bamboo viscose fibres, we are unable to ensure whether the employees are guaranteed basic rights and working conditions. To compensate for this problem, we are actively searching for alternatives or new suppliers that allow better traceability and information on their production methods. We will not be investing in any hemp thread originating from China in the next years, if need be, we will explore European alternatives.
Among these, our 25500 meters of fabric…
54.6% represents the certified organic cotton (GOTS, OCS or USDA Organic).
An important portion of regular cotton can be noticed as well (22.6%).
This can be explained by two factors:
- The organic cotton shortage we faced in 2020 and 2021 (check out the article As we strive to do "better" which addresses the topic on cotton shortage). Almost all of our bamboo viscose fiber was mixed with regular cotton.
- Until recently, we’ve had to use regular cotton from the US for certain fleece and thick French Terry (13 oz and more) fabrics, to obtain the desired thickness. Fortunately, our manufacturing workshop acquired a new knitting machine allowing us to solve this issue. We were also able to acquire thicker thread from our American supplier. Our job now is to convince our customers to use them!
American Rambouillet wool also appears on the graph. It represents 1.2% of our production, which isn’t much, but we must start somewhere!
As for the origins of our thread, we’ve diversified our supply chain. Up until 2020, 100% of our thread came from Asia. We’re proud to say that today, nearly 50% of the thread we used in 2021/2022 came from other countries, including 21% from the American continent (US and Peru).
What’s our goal moving forward?
When speaking of transparency, we must show both the positive and more negative aspects to improve our business.
Ideally, we would like to stop using bamboo viscose to offer only 100% natural fibers (See the article Profit/How we operate/slow business - Our goals for 2022). It must be said that it may not happen anytime soon
Because certain valuable clients still use this fiber for its’ softness and flexibility. Choosing to remove this fiber completely from our production chain would mean losing many loyal customers. As a small business, we cannot allow ourselves to do so. By writing articles such as this one to inform others, we hope to plant a few seeds for readers and customers to lean toward more sustainable choices.