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Where your T-Shirts are Made

I am sure you have had that odd feeling after you bought a special piece of fashion from a major brand, only to discover, when looking at the label, that it was not produced anywhere near the location you had expected it to be produced. There is an exciting registry, OpenApparel, which sheds some light on where vendors and labels actually manufacture their clothes. I felt a bit lost by their UI, which has lots of dots (this is, obviously, a matter of taste). These maps/plots are called proportional (point) symbol maps, and I find them confusing (much like the COVID-19 maps from Johns Hopkins), as they show weird circles or shades of color overlaid to a (world) map. Now, countries or regions are definitely not circles. So, I am a big fan of choropleth maps, whereby you color the country area by the statistics of concern. See also Data Map’s recommendation.

Initially, I did not understand what is inside the data, i.e, what “common” and “less common” supply chains could look like. This made me create a short streamlit app, reduced the data to the more official contributions from brands and labels, turned the visualisation into a Choropleth map, and added a statistics (global distribution in addition to the vendor specific distribution), so you can tell that vendor X has a lot more business with country Z than most others. Note the data are number of contractual partners, not the volume of clothes produced in that location.

Be mindful about fast fashion, and its consqeuences, educate yourself, and, dive into the data. Have a look at some high price well-known brands, luxury brands, and low cost labels.