The globalization and booming demand for fast fashion, has led to high amounts of pressure on the production in low income countries within the clothing industry. Disasters like Rana Plaza in Bangladesh in 2013 and environmental problems as the scarcity of raw materials indicate this. The terms Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability have been introduced by the media, government & NGOs and are here to stay. Consumers are becoming more aware from the negative effects that fast fashion has on the environment and under which conditions their clothes are produced. Whilst starting on this new journey we are a fashion platform with experience and a mission. Besides offering a set of tools to follow up the requests of our clients, we aim on doing this by respecting the environment and the people that work with us all over the world. We believe that CSR is not an ‘add-on’, it is the way we do business and our long term commitment. It is the way we structure our business.
Transparency is in our vision an important tool to achieve compliance and sustainability. Having a clear view how, by whom and from which materials our products are made will guide us on our mission. Retail Tribes has its own compliance team, which visit the factories on a regular base. All our suppliers are listed and we aim on keeping the standard on the best possible level. On a daily base factories subcontract certain products or a part of the production process to different factories. To guide the subcontracting in a compliant way we have taken two measures. First, we have included the guidelines for subcontracting in our code of conduct. This code of conduct will be presented to all our suppliers and it is requested to sign and follow these guidelines. Secondly, we have started working with a mapping system. This mapping system lists the machinery in the factories and the machinery needed to produce the garment. By having knowledge on the capabilities of the factory and the capabilities needed to produce the garment, we can keep track of the production process and have more knowledge on the subcontracting.
Retail Tribes is active in Bangladesh, India, China and Turkey for the production of our wide range of collections. The reason to spread production is due to the country specialities. Every country has from origin its own specialities in production. Retail Tribes offers full kids and baby collections and promotional offers for ladies and men. Whilst outsourcing production, attention is paid to the suppliers and regional specialities. This way we can enhance the best quality and prices for our collections.
Although production is outsourced in different countries, we aim on maintaining our compliance and sustainability level. All factories have been visited before we start production. Next to our visits a code of conduct needs to be signed by our partners. This code of conduct is based on the International Labour organization (ILO)’s core conventions and outlines the requirements for suppliers to do business with Retail Tribes. Please read here our Code of Conduct.
Our code of conduct is guided by the following principles;
Outsourcing production does not come without its pitfalls. Important is to outline these pitfalls upfront, as we believe it is better to prevent than solve problems. One main pitfall is the cultural difference, which is a source for miscommunication. Miscommunication leads to mistakes, quality problems, late deliveries, late payments and eventually to high pressure and overtime for the workers in the factory. It is our aim to avoid these kind of problems from both sides of the chain. Next to keeping our customers happy, we aim on long term relationships with our suppliers to endure a better environment and improve labour conditions.
We avoid miscommunication by regular visits to the factories. Not only does our buying and compliance team visit the factories, yet the Managing Board, Designs and Sales departments also visit the factories to have a better knowledge of the issues in the factories. Every department has a different angle of approach and together we have one mission.
By working closely together with the production on all levels in the company we feel that we are in control of our communication. We are avoiding mistakes and increasing efficiency. From both sides expectations are aligned, and our suppliers are our partners in production.
We believe that is impossible to operate in low income countries without taking responsibilities. This means we need to solve issues together, in order to create a safe and clean working environment for everyone. The below assessment tool helps us and our suppliers to achieve a higher standard. All factories are assessed during and before we start the cooperation. We aim on helping factories in becoming more efficient. When we have achieved this together, we will keep supporting them by placing our orders at these factories.
Ensuring the quality of the environment is highly valued at Retail Tribes. The textile industry is a big burden for the environment, therefore we aim on limiting our impact in the best possible way. We follow the latest innovations on how to mitigate our impact on pollution and the use of energy, water and chemicals. One of these innovations is Organic Cotton. Upon request of our clients we are able to offer organic cotton in our collection. Not only is organic cotton better for the environment, yet it is also safer for the farmers. Less pesticides are used during the production of cotton. The use of pesticides has increased due to increase in cotton production. This increase makes vermin immune for the toxic substances. Unfortunately the workers on the field do not get immune from using it on a daily base. Resulting in a threat for the health of the farmers. As farmers are the backbone of the cotton industry it is important not only to maintain the environment, yet also the health of the farmers.
Factories under our cooperation offer the following certificates, standards and / or management systems;
The Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) is the leading supply chain management system, which is supporting companies in social compliance. The core competence of the BSCI is encouragement towards lead firms and suppliers instead of certifying companies.
The SA8000 Standard is the leading social certification standard for factories and organizations across the globe. SA8000 encourages organizations to develop, maintain, and apply socially acceptable practices in the workplace. Individual companies will be assessed on compliance by a third-party auditor.
Retail Tribes is GOTS certified by Control Union CU 1017982. The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is the worldwide leading textile processing certification for organic fibres, including ecological and social criteria, backed up by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain. The standard covers the processing, manufacturing, packaging, labelling, trading and distribution of all textiles made from at least 70% certified organic natural fibres. By choosing for the GOTS certification, we can guarantee that toxic bleaches, dyes and other chemical inputs are excluded during the production process of our collection.
Oeko-tex standard 100 is an independent testing and certification system for textile products from all stages of production along the textile supply chain.
OCS 100 & OCS Blended: The Organic Content Standard (OCS) blended applies to any non-food product containing 5-100% organic material. The OCS 100 is used for products that contain 95-100% of organic material. OCS verifies the presence of organic material in the end product.
REACH is the European Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals. REACH addresses the production and use of chemical substances, and their potential impacts on both human health and the environment.