17/02/2021 – Together against audit fatigue — auf Deutsch lesen

OECD’s February Forum: New initiative by ITMF and IAF

An article by Yvonne Heinen-Foudeh.


On a side session of the current OECD Forum, ITMF and IAF presented the Standards Convergence Initiative. After the Paris event in 2020, video conferences are currently on the agenda. Unquestionably different - certainly climate-friendly. (from left to right: Christian Schindler, ITMF; Matthijs Crietee, IAF; Yvonne Heinen-Foudeh, M+M; Deniz Thiede, Triple-Tree). © yh-f


Audits play an essential role in the complexity for worldwide sourcing of garments and footwear. Increasing frequency, complexity, and scope of audits on the other hand is causing audit fatigue. On top neither industry nor retail reached solid consensus on standards related to holistic sustainability encompassing the entire supply chain on financial, manufacturing, social, and environmental aspects – all of them somewhat requiring standards and thus auditing. For a fact this is resulting in differences, variations, and multiple interpretations. This trend of increasing audit activity is causing “audit fatigue”, which, in turn, may have negative influence on further developments. To address that challenge two international interest groups from the apparel and textile sector have now launched a key initiative: Together the ITMF (International Textile Manufacturers Federation) and the IAF (International Apparel Federation) launched the Standards Convergence Initiative.

IAF General Secretary Matthijs Crietee whilst unveiling the joint project over a side session at OECD’s February Forum:

“Aim for the SCI will be to serve as a global industry wide platform to discuss and develop a strategy as well as the tools to accelerate the reduction of audit and standard fatigue in the clothing and textile industries.”

To achieve the goal both federations will collaborate with the International Trade Centre (ITC), to create transparency in the conduct of the main standard holders along four key criteria. The ITC standard map, which by the way is accessible to everyone, can be used to directly check the approximately 300 industry-relevant standards against the four elementary criteria.

ITMF General Director Dr. Christian Schindler to textile network:

"We naturally hope that as many brands and retailers as possible will harmonize their internal standards or audits along the SCI or eliminate irrelevant criteria."

More and more multinational brands as well as start-ups are (still voluntarily) taking up the challenge. Will local, EU and UN-based regulations, and rules set the pace - or changing consumer behavior of increasingly aware and informed apparel/ fashion consumers?

Yvonne Heinen-Foudeh