The Fashion Transparency Index (FTI) measures how transparent a clothing retailer is with their supply chain and production process. Considering the immense strain that the global fashion industry puts on the environment, I thought to myself, why don't we treat our clothing as we do our food? Since various food items in the grocery store come with an assortment of labels and stickers denoting whether or not the food is organic and non-GMO, or if the eggs are cage-free, I designed two versions of a label and proposed placing them on the tags of garments of brands that rank high in the index.
The labels we find on food tell us about the conditions and processes under which the food and/or its ingredients were produced. While this hypothetical FTI label would not in itself reveal much about the brand's production process or how sustainable its products are, it will let consumers know that the brand goes the extra mile to be accountable and open about their business. Tesco's failed attempt at labeling all of its products with their respective carbon footprints proves that such an endeavor is actually extremely difficult.
It is important to note that the Fashion Transparency Index is run by a private entity and still very new, thus the extent of its research is expectedly inadequate. That being said, I was more interested in the concept of such an index being an integral part of the clothing industry, in the same way that one could expect to see "USDA Organic" stickers at the grocery store. Hopefully, one day this consumer awareness of a product's origins and efficiency will extend from food and appliances to fashion and other significant markets.
To accompany the launch of the new label and get people to look for it when shopping, I designed and mocked up posters for an ad campaign that would announce its appearance. The campaign would also serve to bring attention to the larger issue at hand — the consequences of the fashion industry on both the environment and the countless workers that aren't being paid living wages for their hours of work in often unsafe conditions.
The assignment required me to familiarize myself with the issue, which is largely caused by the emergence of the "fast-fashion" business model. To help inform my project I conducted some ethnographic research which involved following, observing, and interviewing individuals, sometimes while they were shopping. From this I created surveys that helped me get a better sense of how people make decisions when they shop for clothing.
Withholding the brands, I made these comparison sets of similar products and asked people which jacket and pair of jeans they would choose based on the information available. I was interested in seeing if additional information would sway their decisions and to determine the importance of cost relative to the brand's reputation.
Looking back at this project, I could have taken a more pointed approach by creating a label that indicated if a garment was produced on fair trade conditions using existing information. Consequently, only brands that are quite thorough and open about their supply chain and production process could possibly qualify. I think this type of label would be more informative and resonate better with the average consumer. The underlying goal remains the same. which is to start a trend among larger companies to pay attention to the sustainability of their businesses.