The online tool creates a common and standardised resource of facility names and addresses that is free and easy to search

The online tool creates a common and standardised resource of facility names and addresses that is free and easy to search

Digital supply chain mapping platform Sourcemap has launched a beta version of what it claims is the world's first free digital map of apparel factories.

Funded by the C&A Foundation, the beta version of the Open Apparel Registry (OAR) is an open, crowdsourced database of apparel facilities around the world that grants the apparel industry, manufacturers, and consumers worldwide unprecedented access to the factories making their clothes.

It marks Sourcemap's largest open-source project to date.

The online tool creates a common and standardised resource of facility names and addresses that are free and easy to search.

As the first advanced name-and-address matching system in development for the apparel industry, the OAR will "create historic transparency and accountability in an industry plagued by systemic sustainability challenges and inhumane employment practices," Sourcemap says.

"The Open Apparel Registry has been a years-long effort to help consumers, companies and NGO's make certain that the factories they think their clothes are coming from are actually the right ones," explains Dr Leo Bonanni, founder and CEO of Sourcemap. "Apparel facilities can now be searched much like finding an address on Google Maps, which we expect will create an industry where one-day, every article of clothing is traced to its source."

Currently, most apparel factories are logged across multiple, inconsistent databases with many more facilities completely unaccounted for. Even the most conscientious brands have struggled to maintain visibility over the manufacturers beyond the first tier of their supply chains, says Sourcemap, which adds the lack of accountability has led to the apparel industry's failed attempts to rid supply chains of forced labour, child labour, poor working conditions, and environmentally harmful practices.

The Open Apparel Registry will officially launch in 2019 and is expected to include additional features not yet available in the beta version, such as the ability for factory owners to claim their facilities and improved search functions.

Sourcemap recently partnered with US apparel giant VF Corp in a move that helps ensure every step in the production of VF's apparel and footwear meets the company's standards of quality, sustainability and social responsibility.

The project allows consumers to track the supply chain footprint for ten of its brands most "iconic" products through a new online traceability tool.

Click here to access the OAR.