The Recently Launched Open Apparel Registry Maps Clothing and Footwear Factories Worldwide

Not to get dramatic, but are we witnessing the beginning of something pretty exciting here?

The C&A Foundation, a fashion data organization, has funded the recently launched Open Apparel Registry, a free, open-source tool which “aims to crack down on slavery and worker abuse by mapping every clothing and footwear factory in the world.” According to Reuters, “The Open Apparel Registry (OAR) seeks to untangle often opaque supply chains by identifying every factory by name and address, increasing transparency for workers and businesses.”

What is interesting about this initiative is its use of open source data that is freely given by brands that are now publishing their supplier lists (some have been publishing their lists for years). This, according to the OAR, “demonstrates that sharing this data does not affect competitive advantage.” Not to get dramatic, but are we witnessing the beginning of something pretty exciting here? Is this ushering in, or perhaps moving forward, a new mindset about competitive advantage and corporate transparency for the common good?

The tool allows you to search by facility name and/or browse/filter by Contributor, Contributor Type and Country Name. Results are mapped on the accompanying visual.

Here is additional information (mostly directly quoted) about the OAR from its website:

  • The OAR identifies apparel factories and their affiliations by collating disparate factory lists into one central, open-source map, listing factory names, addresses, affiliations and a unique OAR ID.
  • The OAR is not owned by any organization. It is a neutral, non-profit organisation, with a multi-stakeholder Board of Directors representing civil society, the open data sector, factory groups, industry MSIs and brands. The OAR is funded by the C&A Foundation and developed by Azavea, a geospatial software firm and certified B Corporation based in Philadelphia.
  • All the data in the OAR, including the OAR IDs, is open and licensed under the Creative Commons Sharealike 4.0 license.
  • The OAR is used by stakeholders across the entire fashion industry, including civil society organisations, factory groups, brands / retailers, trade unions and more.
  • The OAR exists because currently, the quality of name and address data in the apparel industry is, by and large, poor. There are thousands upon thousands of incomplete, incorrect or varying addresses, differing even for the same facility. This results in all manner of confusion, from auditors turning up at the wrong facility, to organisations wasting hundreds of hours manually matching information in their databases. The unique OAR ID, allocated to each facility, eradicates this confusion, enabling more effective and efficient collaboration between stakeholders.
  • The Open Apparel Registry publishes the name, address and unique OAR ID for each factory in the database, as well as the source of the data. If a brand has contributed a supplier list, they will be listed as a data source alongside the factories they have submitted.

Story picked up from infoDOCKET.

Photo by Lauren Fleischmann on Unsplash

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