FAQs

About the OAR

What is the current status of the OAR?

In October 2018, a beta version of the Open Apparel Registry was made publicly available. The tool is still undergoing testing and refining of the way that information contributed to the registry is processed. The OAR will launch in the next few months, so keep checking back for updates. You can also sign up to our mailing list to be informed of the official launch.

What does “Public Source” mean?

Increasing numbers of fashion brands and parent companies are now publishing their supplier lists and sharing that information publicly on their websites. (Fashion Revolution provides analysis of the latest figures.)

As we build and test the Open Apparel Registry, and raise awareness of the tool with stakeholders from right across the fashion industry, the OAR Team has uploaded many of these publicly available supplier lists to the site, in order to populate the tool with data and train the algorithm. Where data has been uploaded by the OAR Team in the name of a brand, this is marked with “Public Source” to indicate that the brand itself has not uploaded the data.

At this point, a few brands have taken the time to upload their own data and help us test the site, including C&A and Gap. We are very grateful for their support in the development of the OAR.

What is the OAR?
The OAR aims to become the go-to source for identifying apparel factories and their affiliations by collating disparate factory lists into one central, open-source map, listing factory names, addresses, affiliations and a unique OAR ID. 

Who owns the OAR? 
The OAR is not owned by any organization. It is an independently run tool currently managed by an Interim Board and a secretariat. The OAR is funded by the C&A Foundation.

Who owns the data in the OAR?
All the data in the OAR is open and licensed under the Creative Commons Sharealike 4.0 license

Data in the OAR

We've updated our supplier list since it was published on this site. How can I ensure that factories we no longer work with aren't listed as one of our suppliers?

Whilst the OAR remains in beta, the best way to update your supplier list is to log into your account and upload your current supplier list. This will replace the previous list published to your account, so any facilities that you are no longer working will not have you listed as a Contributor.

As we continue to improve the beta site, we hope to develop a more efficient solution for this process. Please keep checking back for updates as well as making sure you're signed up to our mailing list to receive the latest OAR news.

How is data kept current?
Ongoing maintenance of the registry is run by the OAR team, who reach out to stakeholders, including factories and brands, to ensure their lists are kept up to date. Each factory profile will include a date stamp of when the information was last updated, so it is clear to site users how current the information is. 

Does the registry store any proprietary data (e.g. audits)?
No. The Open Apparel Registry only publishes the name, address and unique OAR ID for each factory in the database, as well as the source of the data. So, if an auditing company uploads a factory list, the auditing company will be named as a data source for that factory, but no other data will be held in the OAR.

The OAR ID

Why are the OAR ID numbers so long?
The length of the ID number is necessary to account for the shifting nature of facility data in the Open Apparel Registry database. Each time a new address or facility name enters the database it must be given a new OAR ID and also link to its matches. Some of these IDs remain hidden, while the most accurate is published under the same consistent ID. The length of the ID number allows us to ensure confidence in factory identification across all of these entries and their matches, while also capturing the variability of updating facility names and addresses.

Does a factory have to use its OAR ID?
There is no obligation for a factory to use its OAR ID. The purpose of the OAR ID is to create one common ID per factory, which is capable of syncing across multiple databases. It does not need to replace other IDs, but can be used in parallel for data holding organisations to sync their data with others. 

Uploading to the OAR

My list won’t upload

  • Check you have not accidentally changed the column titles in the OAR Contributor Template, switched the order of the columns, or added any additional columns. Each column title needs to be entirely in lower case.

  • Ensure that you do not have any blank cells in the country, name, or address columns, or any merged cells in your CSV. You can quickly check for blank cells by applying filters to the spreadsheet.

  • Check you have not used any special characters e.g. dashes (-), underscores (_), forward (/) or backward slashes (\), apostrophes (‘), commas (,) or full stops (.) in the name of your CSV file, the title of your list or the description of your list.

  • Ensure that you have saved the file as a CSV file: UTF-8 (.csv)

  • Check that your file size is 5MB or less.

  • If you are still experiencing issues uploading to the OAR, please contact the team

I’m having trouble opening the OAR Contributor Template

The OAR Contributor Template is a CSV file and you may be asked to select a programme to open it with. The best programmes to use are Excel, Numbers or Google Sheets. Some computers default to opening in Notepad, or similar. You will need to right click and force the file to open in Excel or Numbers if you encounter this issue.

My supplier list is currently separated into many more columns than your OAR Contributor Template. It will take me hours to re-format it. Is there a workaround for this?

We understand that organisations all format their factory lists in slightly different ways. In order for our algorithm to effectively sort through, clean and match the data contributed to the platform, supplier information must be uploaded in a consistent manner, with only three columns for country, facility name and facility address.

If your supplier list is currently separated out into more columns than this, we recommend downloading ABLEBITS, an Excel, Google Sheets or Numbers add-on. This add-on allows you to easily merge multiple columns for addresses into one column in a matter of seconds.

Excel, Numbers and Google Sheets also have the functionality to separate data by a delimiter such as a semi-colon, comma or space.

If you experience any difficulties with the programme, please reach out to the OAR Team.

What am I meant to do on the Confirm / Deny page?

This step of your upload is crucial to the development of the OAR and helps to refine a tool for the entire industry. This process also helps confirm matches that the algorithm might not have picked up, ensuring that all of the data matches come through.

Each facility you have submitted will be presented at the top of a numbered list of potential matches, in grey and marked as “Processed”. Listed below this you will find the potential matches presented by the OAR. We ask that you compare the potential matches to the processed address from your list. For those addresses which you believe are a match, click “Confirm”. Where the algorithm has incorrectly queried a match, click “Deny”.

How do I know whether to confirm or deny a match?

There will be instances where it is hard to tell whether facilities returned as potential matches are the same or not.

This can be due to probable data entry errors where it is likely that the addresses are the same, but a zip code (or similar) has been mis-entered, odd letters have strayed between columns when converting / copying and pasting data, or the order of address information is slightly different between one entry and another. Other examples of possible discrepancies include some addresses being more complete than others, mis-spellings in street names, or slight variations on the way the name of the facility is entered e.g. Ltd versus Limited, Pvt versus Private. These variations should be considered matches and confirmed.

However, sometimes the algorithm will query a match where the plot number is different, but the rest of the address details are the same. In these cases, we ask that you deny the match, as this is likely a separate facility, run by a different management team, and therefore needs to be treated as a distinct facility. Additionally, where address details match perfectly but the names of the facilities are entirely different, these should be denied, as they are likely independent facilities operating from one multi-use building.

My facility list is really long. It will take me ages to go through and confirm / deny matches. Is there a way around this?

We appreciate that it is a time-consuming task to work through the confirm / deny process for your facility list, particularly if you work with a large number of facilities and are an early adopter of the platform. We thank you for your patience.

This process is crucial to the development of the platform. Whilst there is an initial time investment required, we are confident that it will require much less time in the future as you upload additional lists.

As well as this, we believe the OAR still saves hours of time currently spent manually matching across multiple, disparate lists. If you have feedback or queries on this, please do reach out to the team.

You do not have to process your entire list in one go. You can break the process into more manageable chunks of time and stop wherever you like. The system will automatically save your work, meaning you can return to pick up where you left off.

What happens if we stop working with a facility and want our affiliation with them on the OAR to be removed?

This is easily fixed by removing the facility from your master supplier list and re-uploading the new list to the OAR. This list will replace your previous list on the public-facing OAR map and you will no longer be affiliated with facilities with which you are no longer working.

Similarly, if you begin working with new facilities and would like this reflected on the OAR, you can add them to your master list and re-upload to the OAR.

You will always be able to access historical lists from your account in the OAR, but these affiliations will not be visible to other users searching the map.

I would like to upload multiple lists to the OAR from one account. Why is this not possible?

We understand that the function of having multiple public lists linked to one account would be a valuable tool for many users of the OAR, e.g. certification schemes, brands looking to distinguish between tier 1 and tier 2 suppliers, global union groups seeking to upload country specific lists etc. Whilst this hasn’t been possible to build into the public beta launch of the tool, it is scheduled for future development of the tool. Please keep checking back for updates.

I’m a manufacturer and would like to change or update information about my facility. How do I do this?

This functionality is currently being built and will launch soon! In the meantime, please send us an email with details of your request at info@openapparel.org.

Searching the OAR

The number of results returned when I select multiple filters in combination plummets. Why is this?

The search function operates using AND logic, rather than OR. What this means is that if you were to select, for example, ASOS and Arcadia in combination, it only shows the facilities with which both brands have an affiliation, rather than all facilities listed by both brands.

Brands and the OAR

Why would a brand share its factory list?
Over 100 brands are now publishing their supplier lists, and some have published their lists for years. This demonstrates that sharing this data does not affect competitive advantage. For more information see Follow the Thread report, page 13. 

Does the OAR list which brands work in each factory?
The Open Apparel Registry publishes the name, address and unique OAR ID for each factory in the database, as well as the source of the data. If a brand has contributed a supplier list, they will be listed as a data source alongside the factories they have submitted.

Other

Which languages does the OAR host?
The OAR is available in over 180 languages via Google Translate.

What can I report through the “report a data issue” link?
The “report a data issue” link should be used to report any errors in the data or bugs in the system. It is not a mechanism to publish grievances or raise concerns about issues in a facility.