Responsible sourcing in fashion supply chains

Close up of sewing threads, in different colours

Fashion and Textiles

The fashion and textile industries have an important role in emerging economies, with millions of jobs often offering a unique entry point into the formal economy, particularly for women.

However, serious social and environmental issues are prevalent and well-known, including child labour, dangerous working conditions, sexual harassment and environmental degradation. Furthermore, consumers, investors, governments, civil society and regulators increasingly expect companies to proactively address these risks, at every tier of the supply chain. Across the sector there is a widespread reliance on social auditing, despite negligible evidence that this drives effective change.

We bring a fresh approach to due diligence and responsible sourcing within the fashion and textile industries. We are unhindered by inflexible audit procedures or ingrained compliance mindsets. Our services are particularly focused on supporting senior management and embedding risk-based due diligence practices within fashion brands.

Clothing factory, creating orange fabric, all hung up down the middle

Assess risks

We support businesses in the fashion industry to identify, prioritise and mitigate risks in their supply chain from raw materials suppliers, processors, manufacturers, and distributors to logistics and retailers. This helps to protect brand value and enables fashion brands to prepare for, and comply with, the growing regulatory compliance requirements on supply chain due diligence.

  • Through our Human Rights Risk Assessments (HRRA), we help brands, buyers, and retailers to understand the extent to which a supplier or suppliers are impacted by, or may contribute to, human rights or wider related social and environmental risks across sourcing categories and geographies. Where risks are identified, we help determine what mitigation actions may be required.
  • We conduct Human Rights Impact Assessments (HRIA) for investors, brands, buyers, and retailers to provide an in-depth investigation and analysis of where there have been – or could be – adverse impacts to the rights of workers, communities, or other stakeholders as a result of business activities in a fashion brand’s supply chains.
  • We map supply chains for fashion brands and retailers, working with our technology partners to efficiently build an understanding of the profile, location and relationships through the different levels of a supply chains.
  • We conduct site-based due diligence assessments of the environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance of high-risk or strategic suppliers for investors, brands and retailers against good practice frameworks such as the OECD due diligence guidance for the apparel and footwear sector or the IFC Performance Standards.

Build management systems

We help fashion brands to build confidence in their risk management performance and readiness for evolving compliance requirements related to supply chain due diligence. We help fashion brands develop and implement responsible sourcing risk management systems that are fit for purpose and aligned with international good practices.

  • We benchmark the maturity of fashion brands’ and retailers’ current sourcing practices through our Responsible Sourcing Diagnostic and Maturity Model to assess current performance and prioritise next steps.
  • We support fashion brands, retailers and their suppliers by designing and implementing management systems for responsible business conduct and supply chain due diligence. This includes writing policies and procedures, developing risk assessment and risk management processes, identifying risks when onboarding suppliers and reporting to support compliance with due diligence requirements such as the German Supply Chain Act and the forthcoming EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive.
  • We benchmark management systems and operating practices for fashion brands and their suppliers against the requirements of responsible sourcing standards or assurance frameworks and advise on the steps necessary to close any gaps and pass an audit.
  • We implement blockchain-based traceability solutions in raw materials and manufacturing supply chains and build bespoke supplier engagement and data management platforms with our technology partners to support our clients’ due diligence activities or differentiated product development.
Reels of coloured threads attached to hooks on the wall
Clothing factoring from above with a red structured ceiling

Enhance Capability and Impact icon in white Enhance capability and impact

Informed by our work with the OECD, EC and German government, we support policymakers and industry bodies to establish and strengthen market and regulatory requirements for responsible sourcing. We help to support the continuous improvement of responsible sourcing initiatives and work with stakeholders to create positive impact.

  • We draw on our unique experience with policymakers to deliver alignment assessments of fashion industry supply chain programmes.
  • We deliver strategic advice to industry bodies on supporting their member companies to address responsible sourcing challenges.
  • We provide capacity building for industry bodies’ member companies or auditors on responsible sourcing and due diligence best practices in the fashion industry.
  • We support fashion brands in developing and strengthening collaborative programmes for supplier capacity building or for making targeted interventions that address specific sector-wide risks related to labour and human rights.

“Working with Kumi provided us with valuable context and opportunities to broaden our understanding of the complexities surrounding conflict minerals in the semiconductor industry. Our partnership has helped us have more effective conversations with both companies and fellow investors, in a collaborative drive for more transparent supply chains free from social and environmental abuses.”

Christopher McGoldrick, Senior Investment Analyst, Stewart Investors

“Kumi team are pragmatic, logical and no-nonsense. They understand complex supply chains and deliver difficult topics with lucidity and sensitivity. Refreshing to deal with this calibre of consultant, no management speak, deliver what they say they will, on-time and with a smile!”

Emma Tooley, ESG Supply Chain, Emirates Global Aluminium

Metal grid with small holes

“Kumi rightly deserve their reputation as leading experts on the practical application of the OECD Due Diligence Guidelines by companies and policymakers.”

Guus Houttuin, former Senior Trade Advisor to the European External Action Service and former Chair of the OECD Multi-stakeholder Steering Group on responsible minerals

“Kumi’s assessment of our current status against the requirements of the Copper Mark was very helpful in enabling us to understand where we need to prioritise our efforts as we work towards achieving certification against this important standard. The Kumi team were a pleasure to work with.”

Jasmine Abrahams, Vice President, Sustainability, Ivanhoe Mines

“The due diligence Kumi delivered was comprehensive, the findings clearly presented, and the recommendations led to practical risk mitigation measures with our supplier.”

Sergio Marini, Director Ethics and Compliance, LVMH

“Kumi evaluated our responsible sourcing program against the OECD guidelines and provided a clear gap assessment with actionable recommendations on how to improve. They quickly grasped our operational and sustainability context, which made it easy to communicate and work with them.”

Sustainability Unit, OneMed

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“Kumi Consulting developed an assessment framework for the Maturity Assessment Tool of the International RBC Agreement for the Metals Sector that is objective, practicable and of a sound quality. The framework will assist companies in understanding what is expected from them in the OECD Guidelines.”

Independent Secretariat of the International RBC Agreement for the Metals Sector, Social and Economic Council of the Netherlands

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“Trafigura is one of the largest physical commodities trading groups in the world. Kumi has provided Trafigura, as well as its commercial partners, with strategic guidance, technical advice and practical support – often working within challenging environments and always in support of a demanding client.”

James Nicholson, Head of Corporate Responsibility, Trafigura

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“Kumi advised us on how to address non-conformances identified during an RMAP audit, providing very clear guidance on how to update and strengthen our company’s responsible sourcing management system and due diligence processes.”

Jamie Beliño, Compliance Officer, Al Etihad Gold DMCC

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