Photo credit: Made-By
A late-morning tweet by @ecofashionista reminded me that it's been three years since we last checked in on Made-By, an independent, Amsterdam-based consumer label that encourages sustainable and ethical practices in the fashion industry through production-chain transparency.
Made-By hits the big leagues
Since 2005, the number of brands associated with Made-By has mushroomed from four to almost 30, including bold-face name Edun.With Made-By's Track & Trace, the first database system to record the complete journey of a garment from its origin to the shopping racks, you're able to ascertain whom the players involved in its manufacture were, from the cotton farmer to the person who slaps on the clothing label .
According to Made-By:
Every link in the production chain enters production information into the database and forwards it to the next link. This gives the brands as direct access as
possible to production data from the other suppliers in the chain.
How Track & Trace works
Accessing this information couldn't be easier: All you have to do is enter a code found on the clothing label of one of the associated brands (identified by a wee blue button) into the Made-By Web site.
Made-By does its own independent verification of the data through certificates, photographs, and comments from suppliers, but the label admits that it's not a 100 percent airtight system.
MADE-BY operates worldwide with hundreds of different parties, some of whom have automated production processes, some of whom do not. Some parties are difficult to reach, which means it takes a great deal of time to keep all information up to date. Also, not everyone gives the Track & Trace system the highest priority. As you can imagine, a cotton farmer in India has other things on his mind than entering information into a computer system.
Still, because the various links in the chain monitor one another—and Made-By carries out a final inspection—Track & Trace remains highly reliable, according to the company.
How clean are Made-By's affiliates?
While all of Made-By's affiliates use organic cotton and work with factories that operate under fair-labor codes of conduct, they cannot guarantee that their collections are 100 percent sustainable and socially responsible. After all, a clothing item passes through many hands before it winds up in your shopping bag and cleaning up every stage of production at once is a tall order.
What these brands can do, however, is open up their entire production process for scrutiny so you can chart their progress, which Made-By facilitates by publishing scorecards for each company in its annual reports and on its Web site.
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