WRAP was formed out of the desire to create an independent and objective body to help apparel and footwear factories around the world verify that they are operating in compliance with local laws and internationally-accepted standards of ethical workplace practices. We trace our origins back to the mid-1990s when reports surfaced of sweatshop-like conditions in numerous apparel factories around the world, including excessive working hours, unsafe conditions, and the denial of several legally-mandated benefits to workers. Recognizing that such a scenario could jeopardize the apparel industry as a whole, the American Apparel Manufacturers Association (now the American Apparel and Footwear Association) moved to coordinate an industry response to the issue. A task force was formed which received input from a variety of stakeholders including brands, suppliers, NGOs, academia, and government officials. Based on their findings, the task force recommended the creation of an independent third-party organization free of government or corporate influence that could identify and reduce the prevalence of sweatshop conditions in factories around the world. The first Board of Directors was named in 1999 and WRAP was officially incorporated in 2000.
Recognizing that the program’s credibility depends on ensuring objectivity, WRAP is specifically organized to be independent – both financially and in terms of governance – of the apparel industry. This starts with the make-up of its independent Board of Directors. Although the apparel industry is represented on the Board to provide insight and perspective, by charter the majority of the Board is comprised of individuals not affiliated with the industry. Further, structurally, WRAP is not set up as a membership organization (yet, despite receiving no income from dues, memberships or government grants, WRAP is financially sound, with its revenue being generated entirely through facility registration fees and training revenues).
Today, WRAP has grown to become a global leader in social compliance and a trusted independent supply chain partner for dozens of companies around the world. Its comprehensive facility-based model has made it the world’s largest independent social compliance certification program for the apparel/textile industry (according to a 2010 UNIDO Study, Making Private Standards Work For You, WRAP is the “standard most often cited” for social compliance certification in the textile sector). In 2013 alone, over 2300 facilities from 50 countries participated, and there are currently around 1900 WRAP-certified facilities, found throughout the world, employing over 1.65 million workers.