Vendors and manufacturers have long been using product life stories to demonstrate their sustainability. Now, Dutch nonprofit, Made-By, is making this easier by tracking and documenting the efforts of participating fashion brands.
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 publicise their product stories. Made-By first advises brands on how to clean up their manufacturing processes and – together with fair-trade NGO Solidaridad, which launched Made-By back in 2004 – helps them develop completely sustainable production chains. It can advise companies on getting an organic cotton supplier certified, or refer them to its worldwide network of sustainable suppliers. 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 is Made-By’s online Track & Trace database system, where consumers can read their item’s product story (using the unique code on the label), and click a Google Maps link for the location of each factory and plant involved. The database is populated when each link in the production chain enters information about its production processes, e.g. how many bales of cotton were received, or whether an organic certificate was included. Made-By also publishes scorecards online and in its annual reports detailing how much of each brand’s collections were 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.