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Ethical sourcing in the garment industry

In the last decade apparel companies knew that commercial success was dependent on maintaining quality and achieving the best freight on board (FOB) price and shortest lead time for their products. Today, human rights issues and environmental requirements are crucial factors in the selection of business partners and addressing consumer concerns has become a very important strategy for apparel companies.
The margins offered on products whose manufacture violates human rights or causes environmental damage might prove tempting but even the greediest retailer would think twice about offending the ever growing ranks of ethical and green consumers; these are people that actively choose to buy products and services from companies that are socially responsible and they are willing to pay a premium for them.
Changes in individual purchasing behaviour will increase the collective consumer pressure on producers to use ecologically friendly materials and processes which do not violate human rights or use child labour. This pressure has forced apparel companies, especially the big brands, to develop guidelines or a code of conduct that ensure their business partners comply with these guidelines.
An industry survey and subsequent feedback has highlighted the need for standardised ‘green’ criteria that a potential business partner must satisfy. If such a method were widely adopted, ethical standards would be raised and ultimately the quality of life of the communities in which garments are manufactured, sold and worn would be improved.