Conviktion and traceable production

We include the word ’traceable’ in our Conviktion labels. This may strike you as unusual, and this blog should help explain why traceable production, or ‘provenance’ is so important to us.

What does traceable production, or provenance mean?

The word ‘provenance’ can be used to describe the origin or history of an item. It is often encountered in the fine art market when an expert is seeking to confirm that a painting is real and not a forgery. By checking the previous ownership of a masterpiece and the records of auctions where it was bought or sold you can confirm the provenance of the picture which is very hard to fake. Now ‘provenance’ is being applied to consumer goods but, more typically, the term of choice is ‘traceability’. If a product is traceable, it means you can find out not only where the product was assembled (typically shown on a Made-In label) but, more importantly, where its components come from and who assembled and packaged the product. A traceable product is one where you can find out about the supply-chain of the item you want to buy and therefore what it is made of, where it was made and buy whom.

Why does traceable production matter?

Public expectations of businesses for corporate responsibility rose after the Rana Plaza disaster in 2013 in Bangladesh when 1,123 people died in a garment factory. This avoidable tragedy attracted media attention because those killed were making fashion for the European high street, for labels like Benetton, Primark and Prada. These companies were forced to accept responsibility for the conditions in the factories where their goods were made. Public concern about the disaster gave impetus to the UK’s Modern Slavery Act. This turning point helped consumers connect low prices in the shops with the treatment of some of the poorest people on the other side of the World and the demand for traceability began. Companies that had nothing to hide wanted to communicate that their products are produced in a responsible, socially conscious way.

Traceability and the environment

Consumers care that their products are produced under safe working conditions, by workers earning a fair wage. They are also concerned about environmental consequences of the goods they buy. A traceable supply-chain allows consumers to see the eco-credentials of the suppliers, where they are located and therefore the environmental impact and carbon footprint of production.

Why is traceability difficult?

If you want to trace how a product is made you face a challenge. Consumer products have many components. The raw materials may have been grown, refined and mined in different countries. Several different manufacturers make the different parts before final assembly. As a consequence, many companies only tell you about the parts of their supply-chain they are proud of, if they tell you anything at all.

Are Conviktion bags truly traceable?

Yes, they are! Conviktion products were designed from the outset to be fully traceable. We only use a few components and our designs are simplified without unnecessary pockets, fastenings additional fabrics and trendy gimmicks. We source fabrics and components specifically with their environmental impact in mind.

For example, most industrial hemp is grown in one of two countries either China or Romania. We work with one family run farm co-operative in Transylvannia who grow hemp in the traditional way as they have for centuries. As part of the EU we can be confident about environmental standards and human rights compliance. Because Romania is closer to the UK our transport carbon footprint is massively reduced.
We use world famous YKK zips from their eco-friendly range and all our threads are made from super strong recycled polyester made by Coats.

Our bags are made in Pentonville Prison supervised by UK government staff. Our workers chose to work for us to get more social time out of their cell, to gain skill, experience and confidence and for payment. We chose to pay enhanced rates. Our production project has Government approval because it provides purposeful activity which is good for mental well-being and can help an offender to help restart their life on release.

What can you do to encourage more traceable production?

  • Ask your favourite brands to disclose their product and component origins.
  • Be aware of misleading marketing language – ‘made by artisans in Asia’ can be fancy talk for piece-paid workers without breaks, holiday or sick pay rights.
  • Consider the distance your product has travelled through the production process and source locally when you can.

Traceability matters

The issue of “traceable production” is here to stay. In reality, most established brands often have complicated supply chains developed typically to minimise cost. All companies are under increasing pressure to show the true cost of their product on the planet. Environmentally conscious companies like Conviktion built their supply chain with traceability as a core principle.
If you, as a consumer care about the impact of your purchase, look out for companies that were built with traceability at their core.