US apparel giant VF Corp is allowing consumers to track the supply chain footprint for ten of its brands most “iconic” products through a new online traceability tool.
The group has partnered with digital supply chain mapping platform Sourcemap 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.
“Consumers today want to do business with companies who are committed to social responsibility,” says Shanel Orton, VF’s traceability manager. “We want to know with certainty, too. This provides increased confidence that our practices are consistent with VF’s principles.”
The amount of effort needed to fully map the supply chain of a single product, and build verified data for each supplier, is not a simple task, VF says. It includes mapping where the group acquires raw materials such as cotton and rubber, to the various factories that manufacture and produce a finished product, to the distribution centres from where the product is shipped.
For example, for a single Vans product, VF identified 78 unique suppliers in the full supply chain of that one product. Through the creation of the source map, a consumer can now follow the creation of Vans’ classic Checkerboard Slip-Ons starting with the cotton fibres that are woven into material for the shoes.
The interactive maps display the number and locations of suppliers in a region and users can zoom in for a close-up look at each supplier, including on-site inspections, verifications and associate interviews.
“These maps tell a powerful story about how our products are made,” Orton adds. “We can use this information to continually improve our supply chain footprint.”
VF sources products from 60 countries and thousands of contract suppliers. It says the new process has provided invaluable information the company will continue to use to ensure a focus on responsible and ethical practices throughout its entire global supply chain.
Earlier this year, Sourcemap announced it is aiming to bring a new level of transparency to the clothing industry with the launch of an initiative to digitally map Bangladesh’s garment factories.
Click here for more information and to access the source maps.