Best Practices in Apparel Purchasing

My biggest realization over the last few months has been that this topic is not black and white. My original vision for fairtraderjournal was to list the ‘Good Companies’ so consumers would know where to spend their purchasing dollars. I have come to realize that even the ‘Good’ companies may have black marks against them. We must look to those companies who have made Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) a priority in their daily business practices.

I recently read a paper on Responsible Sourcing Network titled Best Current Practices in Purchasing: The Apparel Industry. Several companies within the industry have made CSR a key business decision and deserve our support. The companies highlighted in this study are:

Gap Inc. has begun to tie factory compliance to performance of production personnel at the Vice President and above levels.”

Jones Apparel Group – while listed as part of the study, there were no references in the document.

Levi Strauss & Co. – “each global sourcing team became accountable for social and environmental standards.”

Nike Inc. – “does an in-depth analysis before going into a new country. Countries that have a greater rule of law are more apt to have better working conditions in their factories.”

Nordstrom, Inc. – ” Nordstrom realigned its independent Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team into each of its business units – Men’s, Women’s, Footwear, etc. The CSR experts now ‘sit with the brand and the team and they have a dotted line reporting into the Director of Supply Chain responsible for sourcing decisions.’ Nordstrom finds that this fosters ‘consistent messaging and standards’.”

Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation (PVH) – “considers it important that training in the ripple-effects of purchasing practices be extended throughout the company. Managers in all divisions as well as retailers need to understand the impact of late decision making and how the supply flows are affected.”

The Timberland Company – “is looking to’“longevity for its apparel products. Booking raw materials ahead of time gives us flexibility in the supply chain so that we aren’t pushing last minute and decreases risk to us and our vendors.”

As I mentioned above, these companies may not be perfect, but at least they recognize the importance of the struggle and are putting CSR front and center in their business operations. I shopped at Gap this previous weekend for the first time literally in years and I felt good about my purchases.

4 thoughts on “Best Practices in Apparel Purchasing

  1. I think it’s great that companies are starting to recognize that their CSR activities can not only be positively humane, but profitable. It’s important that we let store personnel know when we shop at a compliant company, and that this was a determination in our buying decision.

    The only way to stop the race to the bottom is to change the course.


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