If you follow the textile industry through the media and social media you will see there is a growing disconnect between the industry and reality. In many cases brands are joining initiatives and producing roadmaps to show how wonderful they are and more importantly to keep the consumer buying their product. These kinds of roadmaps are often followed a few days later by a report from a campaign group / NGO that shows some of the same brands in a very different light. Often siting working conditions, effluent produced or some other part of the textile production process that is not showing the textile industry in the best light and certainly not showing the textile industry as the lovely sustainable, caring industry that many on the high street would have us believe.
Given that the writers of the reports for both sides of the argument will be active in the same countries and factories you have to ask why there is such a difference in the results and the opinions. If the brands are treating people and the environment in such a poor way and then lying about it to maximise the PR profile and the profits then this is despicable. If the NGO’s / Campaign groups are similarly adapting the findings to meet their own agendas then this is similarly despicable. I actually think the truth is somewhere between the two, the brands and retailers need to maximise the profit and sales, they appreciate that they need to be seen as green and sustainable so the provision of roadmaps is an ideal way to try to influence consumers. “Brand X puts out it road map for the future of textiles” is a good headline, you can put in some figures for what you want to achieve in the next five years. To be very honest not many people will read the roadmap and in five years time you can put out a similar document, changing the date and a few figures and all will be well.
In the case of the NGO’s if the textile industry is improving or working as well as it can then there is no need for them to exist, so they need to find fault to justify their existence and the salaries of their CEO’s and Consultants. With many of the campaign groups / NGO’s again they can spend many months and thousands of pounds/dollars/euros. Producing reports and saying how terrible the world is without offering any real solutions.
A whole industry has grown out of the sustainability bandwagon, many people are making a lot of money from this and not much is happening. The main reason being that if real change comes then there will be no need for these consultants on either side. So this is a self generating industry. People sit there writing reports about how bad or good the industry is just to do it all again in a few years time. I titled this the Textile Industry is / is not in Crisis and I believe there are major problems that the industry is facing. Problems that need real actions not reports and initiatives. A report will not clean up a river or improve the conditions for workers in Asia and the far east. Until all these groups stop talking and actually start doing then nothing will happen. I do not see that being anytime soon as there is just too much money in talking and writing…..