November Lecture Review: Transparency - Pulling the Wool Over Your Eyes

Published: 12th November 2018

Transparency versus traceability. Transparency let’s us see and communicate what is in the textile supply chain, whereas traceability is needed to assure the customer where their garments come from.

Huddersfield Textile Society November Lecture, Mark Sumner, University of Leeds

Mark provided the audience with an engaging talk on this hard-hitting subject, cleverly using great visual cues to illustrate his key points.  He covered the impact of the supply chain, within its full lifecycle and focused on the need for brands to build consumer trust in their global sourcing practices. We were given examples of how key businesses have responded to the challenge to be transparent about where their products are sourced from, and he demonstrated this using the M&S interactive supply chain map.  

Consumers want empowerment so that they can make purchasing decisions wisely.  However the textile supply chain is complex and is one of the most globalised industries, and includes lots of subcontractors that are difficult to trace.  Mark asked us to question what information is really needed by the consumer, and is this recognised as having value to them? Drivers for sustainability include; legislation, customers, commercial operations, external stakeholders, the sustainability strategy and brand reputation.

In his final remarks Mark highlighted that this is all focused on bringing lasting change in supply chain traceability and building trust with the consumer.