Our key takeaway: The global textile industry is intricately interconnected, with buyers, suppliers, workers and smallholders in various countries responsible for different segments of the value chain. This makes it challenging for companies, rightsholders and the public to have full visibility of the value chain and this obscurity creates an ecosystem conducive to adverse human rights and environmental risks and impacts. Companies, for instance, can impose unfair purchasing terms on suppliers and suppliers have no choice but to absorb the losses for fear that buyers will switch suppliers. These losses are then transferred to workers in the form of low wages below living wages and incomes. Workers may then be forced to work excessive hours to feed themselves and their dependants which has significant health and safety impacts. Thus, the power imbalances of global textile chains enforces and exacerbates existing structures of inequality such as poverty and gender disparity. While this report primarily makes policy recommendations, there are also actions companies can take. These include 1) Using the UN Guiding Principles and its human rights due diligence framework (HRDD) to address adverse human rights and environmental risks and impacts; 2) Incorporating purchasing practices and sourcing strategies into their HRDD assessment; and 3) Leveraging or building influence to enforce living wages and incomes as the baseline standard in the textile industry. The report also underscores the importance of engagement with affected stakeholders and responsible disengagement.
Fair Trade Advocacy Office and Fashion Revolution released a White Paper on Fair Thread: Policy Recommendations for a Sustainable Textile Industry (July 2023):