Why Ethics Matters

by Ryan Roff on Jul 31, 2019

Bold Ethics

Why Ethics Matters

On April 24, 2013, during the busy morning rush, the Rana Plaza Factory in Bangladesh collapsed due to a structural failure in an eight-story building that contained garment factories, a bank, apartments and shops. In all, the collapsed killed 1,134 people and injured another 2,500 and sent shockwaves throughout the world. The cause? A series of compromised decisions and cut corners that put the structural integrity of the building in question.

Debate sparked about who was to blame in the situation. Was it the brands that sent their orders to India? Is it is the factory owners and managers that ignored the warning signs? Is it the improper brokering of product orders? Or is it a collective “us,” the consumers who demanded faster, cheaper products?

These questions disturbed me. While we weren’t manufacturing socks in India, the impact of our culture and our industry undoubtedly played a role in one of the greatest tragedies in fashion ever recorded.

We’d built a brand, Statement Sockwear, that was beginning to make a dent in one of the world’s greatest crisis of our time, dirty water, but we were concerned that we hadn’t properly vetted our supply chain and could be hurting one society while helping another.

We knew we needed to do more, but the idea of finding the right supplier felt daunting. How? Where? What criteria?

We started mapping out a plan and identified that transparency was key. We needed to be able to visit the manufacturer, review audits, ask questions of the entire supply chain and, perhaps most important, be in alignment with a manufacturing partner that puts people before profits.

We arrived at the conclusion of a vertically integrated supply chain and found a partner in Colombia.

That means, from the time the cotton is picked to the time it is manufactured, our supplier has complete control and oversight. No brokered deals. No compromised decisions. We pay a fair price and in return, receive ethically manufactured socks from a company that received a platinum rating in human resources.

We realize as a retailer, the pursuit of ethical retailing doesn’t end with just one brand so we launched an initiative with all of our brands. Over the next year, we will be working with each of our brands to better understand their manufacturing and shine a light on their positive contributions in the world while giving you, our customer, greater transparency.

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