Question Guide for Designers to Consider, Evaluate and Learn on Supply Chain Risks & Responsibilities
- Where exactly will my production be made? Is it the same place samples will be made? Will any part, such as sub-assemblies or special parts, be made in a different location? Who owns all these production sites? Is it the same person or someone else you are paying for the goods?
- How many workers are there in the facility and what is their production capacity? How long does it take to make one piece and therefore how long will it take to make your entire purchase order considering raw material lead times? Does the supplier or factory have enough time to produce your purchase order? If not, what is he going to do?
- Has the factory ever been audited by another customer or a third-party auditing company? Ask to see his/her last audit report, find out if he has any Non- Compliances and what has been done since then to rectify the situation.
- What is your product made of? Do you specify or at least agree with the supplier a full list of every raw material being used? Ask to know the raw material content, the country of origin and the supplier name of every raw material in your product.
- Do you know and are you comfortable with the processes involved in the production of the raw material you are using? i.e. If you are buying feathers, are they a by-product of the food industry, can you be sure they haven’t been live-plucked, or for denim, what is the impact of the dying techniques you are asking for (on people, on water consumption etc.)?
- Agreeing a Fair Price: understand the raw material costs, the labour costs, the overheads costs (e.g. the electricity costs to run the factory) and finally the profit margin for the owner. Ask specifically the cost you agree means he/she is paying his/her workers correctly and that he/she is making a sustainable profit level.
- Do you know the relevant industry standards and certifications for your raw materials?
These questions serve to increase awareness and transparency of supply chain and production partners.
Fashion businesses should review suppliers' Terms & Conditions and Compliance requirements.