Traceability for Clothing
Find out more about how Rapanui products are made. Award-Winning Traceability - from seed to shop.
We started our company in response to the growing number of problems associated with consumerism. As well as designing products that are less harmful to the environment and people in the supply chain, there seemed a real opportunity to leverage consumer power.
It's not that people don't care, it's just that they don't know
We decided that we'd try to develop ways to communicate information about the provenance of products in a way that is fast, easy and compatible with consumerism. So we created our traceability maps to allow customers to trace the source of the product from seed to shop at the point of purchase.
When we developed this concept, and back in 2009 our traceability maps were among the first to trace the product supply chain from seed to shop through fabrics, manufacturing, energy use and transport, as well as mixing in ecolabelling and thinking about post purchase impact. Our vision is traceability from Seed to Shop. You can find trace maps with this kind of information on every product page on Rapanui and Teemill.
Our trace maps make it easier to see how our products are made. That makes it easier for people to make better choices. From the people who pick the cotton in the fields, the conditions inside the factories and the journey to the UK where we print and ship, shoppers can get the info online or on your phone by scanning the label on any of our products.
We are really proud of our supply chain and the direction it is going. Traceability is a great way to help customers make better choices. It's also had the unexpected benefit of improving sales and product quality: Customers actually value the products more when they can see how much care and attention to detail has gone into the manufacturing. We also proved the concept that consumers, once empowered, make the right choice: Our best, cleanest products have seen sales rise whilst we've been forced to discontinue products made from less sustainable materials with unclear origins, as sales have dropped.
How we did it
It's not been particularly difficult for us to map and present all of this data. When you buy organic, fair-trade or otherwise certified products, there's almost always a papertrail that you can follow. Suppliers know who their suppliers are. We just started by asking questions. More recently we're into visiting factories and walking through the supply chains ourselves as we get a better feel for the whole picture.
The best way to get the facts is to use the old mk1 eyeball: We inspect our factories personally.
Does this mean all our products are super sustainable? Well, our products are without question better for the environment and the people in the supply chain than the average brand, by quite a long way. The thing is, there's always an improvement opportunity. We see it as our duty simply to make it easier for people to find out where clothing comes from, how it is made and who made it, at the point of purchase.
Once consumers are enabled to make decisions that better represent their values, the best judge of our performance will be how they vote with their wallet.
Having established an effective traceability tool we can unlock demand for products that are made the right way. We now aim to respond to that demand by making products from more sustainable materials in ethically accredited factories that are powered by renewable energy, whilst improving the clarity and ease with which we communicate what our products are made from, how they were made, and who made them.
We also want to de-restrict this business model from Rapanui's growth and accelerate it's uptake by making it easy and accessible for anyone to trade in this way. That's why we built Teemill, which shares the same supply chain, values, and traceability tools whilst leveraging our new real-time production technology. Anyone can start a business using this supply chain, for free, at teemill.co.uk