The OECD’s forum on due diligence in the textile and footwear industry, held in Paris in February 2023, saw significant participation from IAF.

The IAF, a federation for apparel manufacturers, primarily represents the interests of garment manufacturers and small and medium-sized brands.

The event brought together companies, suppliers, NGOs, CSOs, international organisations, and government representatives from across the world. It addressed emerging risks, and shared learnings on implementing due diligence across geographies in a neutral environment.

Several partners in the global Sustainable Terms of Trade Initiative (STTI) and IAF emphasized how important purchasing practices are to effective due diligence.

A simultaneous panel agreed that while due diligence laws may offer benefits to manufacturers, such as greater enforcement of better purchasing practices, the path to getting there is fraught with dangers.

Matthijs Crietee, secretary general of IAF, said: “Ironically, the way due diligence is implemented in a supply chain can lead to bad purchasing practices in itself. Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence is inherently a risk sharing exercise and not a risk transfer exercise.”

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Another panel looked at how brands and suppliers could collaborate on sharing the costs and responsibilities of due diligence, fairly. Brands were urged by Michael Bride of PVH to recognize that the days of blaming suppliers if something went wrong were over. The entire industry is to change its outlook considering the growing regulations coming their way.

Improving purchasing practices requires an effort that cuts across organisations and supply chains. It it is a concern for all “Paris regulars” to see this reflected in the 2024 Forum’s attendance, said the panelists.

Last year, the OECD Forum aimed to tackle the problem of audit and standard fatigue in the clothing and textile industries. By having third-party and brand/retailer proprietary standards align across four key areas.