Trends & Features

Brand Performance Check: Long-term relations with manufacturers allow for swift assessment of Equip’

Equip brands Rab & Lowe Alpine awarded with “Good” status / 2020/2021 Social Report reveals actions behind the company’s progress in a challenging Covid-19 year
British outdoor company Equip Outdoor Technologies Ltd. (owner of renowned brands Rab and Lowe Alpine) is proud to have been awarded the “Good” status after a swift Brand Performance Check as the company approaches the end of its first year of Fair Wear membership. The company has taken its responsibility to ensure fair and safe working conditions for everyone in their supply chain seriously, despite the huge challenges the Covid-19 pandemic caused to global business.
Matt Gowar, Equip’s CEO, explains: “2020 was a tough year for all of us, including the outdoor sector. However, we’re proud to have worked closely with our manufacturing partners to minimise the impact that Covid-19 had on their business, and most importantly, their workers.”

What is the Fair Wear Foundation?
Fair Wear is a movement for change that seeks to push the garment industry towards the new normal: a world where working conditions are fair for the people who make our clothes. Fair Wear Member Brands are committed to supporting garment workers’ rights to safe, dignified and properly paid employment, and making garment production fair for everyone.

What is the Fair Wear Brand Performance Check?
The Fair Wear Brand Performance Check is a tool to assess how a Fair Wear member’s business practices improve labour conditions among their supply chain and contribute to more transparent and responsible relations with its manufacturing partners. Every year, Fair Wear reviews the brand’s efforts by measuring how well they have assessed, identified and resolved issues with their suppliers. Making the results of these checks open to the public ensures transparency and keeps member brands accountable.
Being awarded with “Good” means that Equip is now permitted to use Fair Wear’s on-garment labels, enabling consumers to make an informed choice. The Fair Wear label signifies a brand’s commitment to implementing the highest standards in human rights and safe, responsible manufacturing.

Equip have always prioritised strong and enduring relationships with their manufacturing partners which enabled a significantly swift and successful Brand Performance Check in under 12 months. 89% of Equip’s production comes from partners who the company has been working with for five years or more. When exploring potential new partners, Equip ensures that manufacturers are visited by either their own CEO or their Asia based Quality Control team to rigorously assess their operating processes. In 2020, Equip teams visited and made ongoing assessments of 89% of its manufacturing partners despite considerable travel restrictions caused by the global pandemic.
The Brand Performance Check draws on Equip’s first Social Report, published in May 2021. This report provided insights into the implementation of the Fair Wear Code of Labour Practices with their supply chain partners. It puts particular emphasis on how Equip reacted to the challenges the global pandemic caused for international business, including delayed production, uncertainties regarding customer ordering patterns, and a severe impact on international transport. Equip acted quickly and cooperatively, working in partnership with its manufacturers to minimise the consequences and manage fluctuations in demand. Equip decided and communicated early to replan production for their 2020 Autumn/Winter range. No cancellations for orders in production were made, and any costs incurred, e.g. for additional storage, were agreed with their factories to manage the impact. To Equip’s knowledge, none of their manufacturing partners laid off workers as a direct result of Covid-19.
Fair Wear Code of Labour Practices – at a glance
“Rab and Lowe Alpine achieved a great result for their first Brand Performance Check, with 59 points exceeding the minimum requirement of 30 points for first year members in the ‘Good’ category. The brands maintain strong relationships with their suppliers, building on years of doing business together. Their long-term production planning reduces pressure on suppliers. They have an established monitoring programme which they intend to role out for all suppliers and are committed to simplifying their supply chain. We look forward to supporting Rab and Lowe Alpine in their next steps to further improve working conditions for garment workers.”
Fair Wear Foundation
To take the next step on their Fair Wear journey, Equip has set up its 2021-22 Work Plan, detailing goals for the upcoming year and paving the way for fairer, safer, better and more responsible working conditions for everyone across their supply chain. Amongst the most important are:
– Improving the monitoring of worker’s wages paid by the manufacturers and gaining a better understanding of how the pricing strategy can influence wages.
– Improving their system of monitoring and verifying improvements after audits, with an expanded CSR team and support from other relevant internal teams.
– Enhancing auditing, monitoring and remediation at manufacturing sites.
– Rolling out the Fair Wear Work Education Programme (WEP) at strategic manufacturing partners’ sites.

Equip’s full 2020/21 Social Report can be downloaded >HERE<.
Equip’s 2021 Brand Performance Check Report can be downloaded >HERE<.
More information on Equip’s Responsibility Strategy as well as a video on Rab’s and Lowe Alpine’s Fair Wear membership can be found >HERE<.

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