Innovation That Matters

Tracking & tracing fashion brands' product stories

Nonprofit & Social Cause

Vendors of T-shirts, jewellery and wool clothing—not to mention bananas, coffee and spinach—have been using product life stories for some time now to demonstrate their efforts at sustainability. Whereas most such efforts have been individual ones, however, Made-By offers a more central approach to transparency by tracking and documenting the efforts of all participating fashion brands. Dutch nonprofit Made-By aims to expand the market for environmentally and socially conscious fashion by facilitating sustainable production processes and then giving brands a way to share their product stories with consumers. Made-By begins by advising participating brands on how to clean up their manufacturing process where necessary and—together with fair-trade NGO Solidaridad, which launched Made-By back in 2004—it helps develop production chains in which a garment can be manufactured in a sustainable manner from start to finish. It can advise companies on getting an organic cotton supplier certified, for example, or refer them to its network of trusted sustainable suppliers in Latin America, Africa, Europe, China and India. Member brands use organic cotton and work with sewing factories that have a social code of conduct; to proclaim their participation, they identify their clothing with a small blue button placed near the care-instructions label. Perhaps even more interesting, however, is Made-By’s Track & Trace database system, which allows consumers to see the product story of their clothing online. Developed in collaboration with Organic Exchange and UK IT company Historic Futures, the database gets populated when each link in the production chain enters information about its production processes—how many bales of cotton were received, for example, and whether an organic certificate was included. Made-By verifies that every party enters the relevant information and also keeps all supplier pages up-to-date with photos and comments. Participating manufacturers then include a unique code on the label of each item of clothing they produce. Consumers can enter that code into the Track & Trace system to see who was involved at each step in the production of their garment; a link to Google Maps shows the location of each factory and plant involved in just a single click. Made-By also publishes scorecards online and in its annual report each year to show the proportion of each brand’s collections that are produced sustainably. “I can tell people that Komodo is a fair label, but will the consumer believe me? Made-By is like a certification for us, and proves to consumers that we are a fair label,” explains Mark Bloom, director of participating brand Komodo UK. It’s all about turning transparency tyranny into transparency triumph, in other words, which is what happens when you make the most of being under the spotlight. Shrink from scrutiny and you’re sure to wither; boldly proclaim your credentials (after making sure you have some, of course), and you’ll certainly shine! 😉 Spotted by: Chris Rollason



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