Until less than two decades ago, no major apparel company published its global supplier factories network. The companies viewed the identity of supplier factories as sensitive business information, and thought disclosure would put them at a competitive disadvantage.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, major apparel brands Nike and adidas began disclosing the names and addresses of factories that produced US collegiate apparel. This was a result of a campaign led by a campus network, United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS), in dozens of universities. Universities included supply chain disclosure as part of their licensing agreements with top athletic apparel companies that produced their college logo apparel.
Subsequently, in 2005, Nike and adidas went further by publishing information about all of their supplier factories for all products—not just collegiate licensed apparel.
Over the past decade, a growing number of other global apparel companies, including North American companies with no connection to the US collegiate apparel sector like Levi Strauss and Patagonia, as well as some European apparel companies, began publishing supplier factory information.
As a result of this increased pressure, we are reaching a tipping point, where transparency is becoming the norm for responsible companies.