Supply Chain Characteristics that Impact Traceability

Traceability Takeaways

  • Forced labor and child labor risks occur in all nodes of the silk fabric supply chain; for example, abuses have been documented in silk fabric weaving. Upstream inputs such as silk cocoons and silk thread are also at high risk of labor rights abuses.
  • Traceability approaches for silk fabric should account for upstream goods, such as silk cocoons and silk thread, as well as transformation into downstream, finished goods.
  • Vulnerable populations, such as women, young girls, and workers from marginalized castes in India, work in the silk fabric supply chain. In some cases, workers experience debt bondage, which can amount to forced labor. Companies should complete supply chain mapping and discovery to determine if silk mills in higher risk countries are part of their supply chains. If production in higher risk countries is identified, companies should prioritize identifying specific suppliers to conduct enhanced due diligence, including on-the-ground assessments to inform prevention and remediation efforts.

Nature of Labor Rights Risk/Vulnerable Workers

Child Labor cited by U.S. Government

Risk of Forced Labor or Trafficking in Persons cited by other source

Risk of Child Labor cited by other source

Documented presence of migrant workers

Documented presence of other vulnerable workers

Forced Labor or Trafficking in Persons cited by U.S. Government

Documented presence or significant likelihood of third-party labor recruiters

Features of Production and Supply Chain

Large numbers of dispersed, unorganized, or informal small producers or other worksites

Complex/opaque supply chains and/or lack of vertical integration

Multiple points of aggregation, co-mingling, and/or transformation across supply chain

High degree of flexibility in procurement practices of downstream entities

Distribution of Labor Risk in Various Production Areas

Scale or nature of risk varies significantly based on geographic area of production

Scale or nature of risk is present across multiple tiers or nodes of supply chain (including in associated downstream or upstream goods)

Scale or nature of risk is strongly associated with certain types of suppliers/entities

Linked Upstream and Downstream Risks

Risk in Nodes in Silk Fabric Production

Silk fabric is made from silk thread; silk thread is produced through sericulture, a labor-intensive process of mulberry cultivation and silkworm rearing, then spinning, throwing, twisting, and dying the yarn obtained from silkworm cocoons. Silk thread is sold either directly or through a distributer to silk fabric manufacturers.18“How Is Silk Made? From Silkworm to Silk Fabric: The Secrets of Silk Production.” Lalouette. Once at a silk fabric manufacturer, the silk yarn is woven into fabric on a handloom or power loom. Once the woven fabric is finished, it is distributed and shipped to garment factories or overseas subcontractors for further production and manufacturing into clothing, sheets, curtains, and more.19Appelbaum, Richard and Gary Gereffi. “Power and Profits in the Apparel Commodity Chain,” Global Production: The Apparel Industry in the Pacific Rim (1994).  The risk of forced labor and child labor is present at all nodes of the supply chain, including upstream inputs.  

Silk Fabric Weaving

Transport and Shipping

Associated Upstream Goods with Labor Risk

Silk cocoons and silk thread are both inputs to silk fabric; forced labor and child labor have been documented in the production of both inputs.

Associated Downstream Goods and Consumer Sectors

Textiles Apparel and Luxury Goods

Silk fabric is often used in garments.

Household Goods

Silk fabric is often used in bedding, parachutes, and bicycle tires.

Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals

Silk fabric may be used in surgical sutures.

Top Global Countries

  1. China
  2. Italy
  3. India
  4. France
  5. Japan
  6. Uzbekistan
  7. South Korea
  8. United Kingdom
  9. Vietnam
  10. Romania

Examples & Resources: Traceability Efforts Associated With Silk Fabric