With the expansive scope of defined due diligence, while proving competency and credibility, audits play an essential role in the complex scenario of worldwide sourcing of garments and footwear. Increasing frequency, complexity, and scope of audits on the other hand is causing “audit fatigue“.
Neither industry nor retail has reached a solid consensus on standards related to holistic sustainability encompassing the entire supply chain on financial, manufacturing, social, and environmental aspects – all of them requiring standards and thus auditing.
For a fact, this is resulting in differences, variations, and multiple interpretations. Audit fatigue may have a negative influence on future developments. To address that challenge two international interest groups from the apparel and textile sectors have now launched a key initiative: together the ITMF (International Textile Manufacturers Federation) and the IAF (International Apparel Federation) launched the Standards Convergence Initiative (SCI). “Aim for the SCI will be to serve as a global industry-wide platform to discuss and develop a strategy as well as the tools to accelerate the reduction of audit and standard fatigue in the clothing and textile industries”, explained IAF General Secretary Matthijs Crietee while unveiling the joint project over a side session at OECD’s February Forum.
To achieve the goal both federations will collaborate with the International Trade Centre (ITC), to create transparency in the conduct of the main standard. The ITC standard map, which by the way is accessible to everyone, can be used to directly check the approximately 300 industry-relevant standards against four elementary criteria, explains ITMF General Director Christian Schindler to Textile Network. "We naturally hope that as many brands and retailers as possible will harmonize their internal standards or audits along with the SCI or eliminate irrelevant criteria," continues Dr. Schindler, citing the definition of the height at which a fire extinguisher is to be fitted as an illustrative practical example.
More and more multinational brands and start-ups are voluntarily taking up the challenge. Will local, EU, and UN-based regulations and rules set the pace? Or will the changing consumer behavior of increasing awareness and better-informed apparel/fashion consumers set the pace? –NE–