Leading Apparel Brands Tolerated Delivery Delays Resulting from Türkiye Earthquake; but Most Have Done Little Else to Support Survivors

New research shows that many apparel giants failed to take appropriate steps to protect suppliers and workers, leaving 48% of factories unable to pay employees in full after quake 

A white paper by the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC) examines how 16 global brands handled their human rights obligations after the devastating earthquake in Türkiye:

Pressed by advocates not to punish suppliers for unavoidable delivery delays, most of the brands extended deadlines on clothing orders in production at the time of the quake. However, half the brands acknowledged that they did not keep to original payment schedules. This means that suppliers forced to deliver late were also paid late, exacerbating their financial situation. 

Asked whether they took any other steps to directly support suppliers, like low interest loans or grants, only six of 16 brands cited any form of assistance. And this self-reporting may overstate the brands’ generosity: less than 2% of suppliers responding to a survey by Turkish researchers reported that their customers “supported workers and producers after the quake.”

Among the consequences of this lack of largesse: nearly half of the suppliers in the survey said they could not pay workers in full in the weeks after the quake. A third said they were forced to put workers on unpaid leave. And not all brands extended deadlines: 35% of suppliers said they were forced to stick to original delivery schedules. 

The white paper identifies Marks & Spencer and C&A as the only two brands surveyed that reported acting responsibly both with respect to order delays and aid to suppliers. Among the worst performers—brands that did not maintain original payment dates for delayed orders and also failed to offer any special assistance to suppliers—are Boohoo, H&M, and s.Oliver. 

The WRC white paper analyzed responses to a recent questionnaire to brands from the Business and Human Rights Resource Center, additional information provided by brands to the WRC, and the results of a new survey of 202 garment and textile producers in the earthquake-hit zone. The supplier survey was conducted by the Middle Eastern Technical University’s Dr. Derya Göçer and Dr. Şerif Onur Bahçecik.

Göçer and Bahçecik write: “The brands working with producers of this region have failed to demonstrate their declared responsibility and solidarity in the aftermath of a major earthquake.” 

Scott Nova, Executive Director of the WRC, said “While many leading apparel brands extended delivery deadlines, they could have and should have done much more. With a few notable exceptions, the world’s apparel brands looked at the calamity in their Turkish supply chains and basically decided to abandon workers to their fate.”


Information on brands: 

The following 16 brands provided responses to the WRC and/or the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC) on their purchasing practices following the earthquake in Türkiye. The brands in bold were reported as a buyer by suppliers interviewed by the Middle Eastern Technical University’s research team:

  • Benetton
  • Bestseller
  • Boohoo
  • C&A
  • Esprit
  • H&M
  • Inditex
  • Kiabi 
  • Marks & Spencer
  • Next 
  • Primark
  • PVH
  • s.Oliver
  • Tchibo 
  • Varner
  • VF

Mango responded to the BHRRC’s request for information with a general statement that did not address the BHRRC’s specific questions. Mango’s response was excluded from the WRC’s analysis because it did not contain enough information to make it comparable with other brand responses. 

The following brands did not respond to the WRC’s request for information: Good American (co-founded by Khloé Kardashian), URBN (parent company of Urban Outfitters, Anthropologie, and Free People), and IKEA. 

Headline findings from the WRC’s brand response analysis:

  • All 16 brands said that they did not impose penalties on their suppliers for order days resulting from the earthquake and that they adopted policies directing their sourcing teams to refrain from imposing penalties until the region has recovered.
  • Only C&A and Marks & Spencer reported paying suppliers on time even in the case of delivery delays and having adopted at least one of the four following proactive assistance measures to help suppliers survive:
  1. Accelerated payment on orders;
  2. Improved payment terms on new orders;
  3. Low-interest or no-interest financing to suppliers;
  4. Direct financial assistance to suppliers. 
  • Only four brands (Bestseller, C&A, Kiabi, and Marks & Spencer) said they provided financial assistance to the families of Tier 1 and Tier 2 workers who had been killed in the earthquake.
  • Boohoo did not take any steps to ensure that the Tier 1 and Tier 2 factories the company sources from in the earthquake-hit region were structurally safe. 

Additional statistics from the Middle Eastern Technical University’s survey of manufacturers:

Among the 202 suppliers who participated in the survey:

  • 39% reported that neither government officials nor auditors nor brand representatives visited their factory for inspection after the earthquake.
  • 69% said that they did not receive any proactive contact from buyers in the aftermath of the earthquake.
  • Only 5 among the 202 respondents said that brands offered them and their workers any support at all after the earthquake.
  • Close to half (48%) said that buyers reduced their order volume after the earthquake.
  • 33% suspended their workers without pay during temporary closures.