As we know from previous news posts, TFT’s Leather and Shoe Group and Macintosh Retail Group are working together to bring responsible shoes to market. This means helping retailers and other companies in the shoe industry improve the traceability of their supply chains and ensure that social standards are met; only then is it truly possible to know if shoes are from responsible sources and that people or planet were not hurt in making them.
The responsible shoe programme has moved on in leaps and bounds over the last year. Since November 2011, TFT and MRG have clearly defined what is meant by ‘responsible shoes’ and we have prepared specific guidance for known problem areas such as Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC). Macintosh has also been actively pursuing improving social standards, third party accreditation and adherence to Restricted Substances Lists.
The biggest development, though, is trialling supply chain mapping processes with manufacturers based in South Africa, China, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Portugal.
What we found is a very mixed level of understanding coupled with, in many cases, a strong willingness to work together. From this, we’ve learnt that strong working relationship with suppliers and manufacturers based on mutual trust, respect and goals can lead us all to complete supply chain visibility.
In busy day-to-day life, few of us have the time to look downwards at our shoes and consider the journey they took before they even reached the store where we bought them. When you look closer, you might find that the metal eyelets are lacquered with harmful toluene-based solvents, or that the plastic aglet at the end of the laces is made of nasty PVC. Both these are bad news for the people on the production line, and ultimately the wearer of the shoe.
Without TFT doing this critical work in supply chains, we wouldn’t know the complete supply chain make-up, and ignorance rarely is bliss. It’s time to ask ourselves, do we want our shoes to leave a dirty footprint on the world?
Look out for our next update where we’ll give an overview of our plans for 2013…
Member Programme Manager
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