The life of our clothing begins well before any fabric is sourced or sewn. At each step along our supply chain, our values drive improvements in our practices.
How We Work with Factories
To make AEO products, we partner with apparel manufacturers that operate more than 300 factories in more than 20 countries around the world. We do not own or operate any factories, so it’s important to develop trusted relationships with our suppliers to make our apparel responsibly. We’re working to enhance our current factory monitoring programs and advance key initiatives that focus on worker well-being, environmental responsibility and increased supplier ownership.
Supplier Code of Conduct
AEO is dedicated to the highest level of social responsibility. As part of that commitment, we direct our business relationships to those suppliers, including our sourcing agents, vendors, factories and their own suppliers, who share our vision of ethical and fair working conditions.
Where We Source
In our supply chain, we value suppliers that share our commitment to responsibility and respect the safety and rights of their workers. We effectively promote relationships with these types of suppliers by first training our new sourcing associates to understand the importance of compliance in factories. With this base of understanding, our Responsible Sourcing team meets monthly with our Sourcing team to discuss the overall performance of our suppliers, including social compliance, and review any factories in our supply chain that are currently working to remediate noncompliance issues.
In 2013, we developed a supplier scorecard to measure the social compliance performance of our suppliers. This scorecard measures the supplier’s factory social compliance performance and commitment to improvement.
Factory Inspection and Improvement
AEO is committed to working with our factory partners to properly protect the workers and environment across our supply chain.
We are careful about who we decide to do business with. All factories must be approved through a pre-sourcing audit before an AEO production order may be placed, and factories with orange or red ratings are not approved for business.
Our suppliers often have subcontractors assist them in meeting our production needs. Penalties for failing to properly disclose the use of subcontractors include fines, decreases in AEO orders, and possible termination of business.
Strategic Labor Programs
Factory Fire and Building Safety
In 2013, we joined 220 global apparel companies in signing the Bangladesh Accord on Fire and Building Safety-an unprecedented five-year independent, legally binding agreement to build a safe and healthy ready-made garment industry in Bangladesh. The agreement was signed in the immediate aftermath of the tragic Rana Plaza building. While none of our affiliate factories were located in Rana Plaza, we knew we had to be part of the movement to ensure the safety of our workers.
We remain fully committed to our investment in the Accord. We actively support factories to complete the Accord’s structural, fire, and electrical safety inspections, remediation, and training activities at all our factories in Bangladesh.
We have expanded our learnings to other countries where there is aging infrastructure that could present risks to workers. AEO has launched its own Global Fire and Building Safety guideline that incorporates insights from the Bangladesh Accord. As part of this program, we have provided trainings and conducted inspections focused on fire and building safety in factories in Pakistan and India.
Worker Survey Program
Our goal is to encourage the factories we work with to foster an environment in which workers feel comfortable raising and discussing labor concerns in a constructive manner.
Since 2014, we’ve worked with key factory partners to implement worker survey programs to give workers a voice.
We start with conducting anonymous surveys to gather worker feedback on health and safety, engagement, communication, and satisfaction. Next, weWe share the results with factory management and work with them to identify and implement next steps to address findings, then follow-up six months later to measure progress. The goal is for each factory to have its own internal grievance procedures in place to independently manage effective internal communication channels.
Key Sourcing Policies
Great style shouldn’t come at the cost of the welfare of others. The materials and treatment processes we use are one part of our commitment to responsible sourcing, reflecting our company values and reinforcing our Code of Conduct.
Uzbek And Turkmen Cotton Ban
In response to issues around forced and child labor practices, we have banned the use of cotton from Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
In 2011, we banned sandblasting in the production of our denim as well as the presence of sandblasting equipment in any facility producing for us.
Raw Materials and Manufacturing in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in China
Due to allegations of forced labor in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in China, we prohibit the manufacture of any product or the use of any raw material from this region. Click here to read our Cotton & Country of Origin Policy.
Animal Welfare Policies
We oppose the inhumane treatment of animals, and we do not tolerate animal cruelty in the design, manufacturing or testing of American Eagle Outfitters products. The following policies outline our stance on the usage of specific materials and procedures.
We do not permit the use of the following under any circumstances :
- Fur, including mink, fox, rabbit and beaver;
- Skins from endangered exotic animals;
- Muleseed wool;
- Angora (rabbit hair);
- Vicunga pacos (alpaca)
- Animal testing
Down and leather may be used under qualifying circumstances.
Improving Women Factory Workers’ Health
We are committed to promoting the health and well-being of the women who make our products in our global supply chain. We are working with our factory partners to expand participation in Business for Social Responsibility’s (BSR’s) HERproject, a collaborative initiative that strives to empower low-income women working in global supply chains.
To date, HERproject has been implemented at four factories in Cambodia and six factories in Bangladesh, with efforts underway at two factories in Vietnam. As part of HERproject, we help train peer educators and participate in a Technical Advisory Group that’s focused on developing a nurse training program, as well as a program focused on addressing sexual harassment. With HERproject, we’re not just investing in women, we’ re investing in their families and communities around the world.