Quality, Innovation, and Transparency: The Legacy of Carter’s in Children’s Clothing

Survey a few families members and friends about where to buy clothing for babies and kids, and one answer will be heard repeatedly: Carter’s. A single inner circle is not alone in thinking that way – Carter’s is the leading brand of children’s clothing, gifts and accessories in America, selling more than 10 products for every child born in the United States.

“Our designs are based on a heritage of quality and innovation that has earned us the trust of generations of families,” the company says. “We continue this heritage in every little detail to make dressing easier for mom and life more comfortable for babies, and as we move into the future, we are proud to help families with innovative products and new ways to shop for them.”

The company notes it has gained this reputation because of the quality it offers in its products, as well as the “thoughtful little details.” These include the Handi-Cuff mitten sleeve that protects babies from self-scratching, as well as the Jiffon neck design that easily slips over little ears for easy outfit changes. Carter’s says it continues to innovate and maintain the quality for which it is known by staying true to its philosophy.

“We believe that childhood is a celebration, and the colorful prints and cute characters we design are inspired by the joy and love children bring into our lives,” the company explains. “We celebrate childhood by supporting babies, children and families with thoughtful designs, quality materials and construction, and convenient shopping options. [Our customers] can count on Carter’s to take care of the little details so that they are free to focus on what really matters: celebrating their little ones – and the hugs, cuddles, giggles and babbles that light up our lives.”

Transparent and Mindful

Carter’s business is dedicated to clothing children, and part of its focus on quality involves maintaining a transparent supply chain. For example, it remains in compliance with California’s Transparency in Supply Chains Act of 2010, which requires companies doing business in California to “disclose their efforts to ensure slavery and human trafficking are not part of their supply chains.” Additionally, Carter’s explains how it addresses each of the five following points:

  • Engages in verification of product supply chains to evaluate and address risks of human trafficking and slavery. The disclosure shall specify if the verification was not conducted by a third party – Carter’s says it strictly prohibits the use of slavery and human trafficking in its supply chain. “Our Supplier Code of Conduct specifically prohibits the use of ‘forced or involuntary labor of any kind in the supply chain, including any labor obtained through slavery or human trafficking,” the company says. Prior to the engagement, a Carter’s employee or third-party agent evaluates each potential supplier on such supplier’s ability to meet Carter’s requirements, including compliance with its code of conduct.
  • Conducts audits of suppliers to evaluate supplier compliance with company standards for trafficking and slavery in supply chains. The disclosure shall specify if the verification was not an independent, unannounced audit – To ensure compliance with its code, each audit of a Carter’s supplier is conducted by an independent third-party firm. “The third-party auditor employs experts in local laws who speak the local languages,” Carter’s says. “The frequency of audit for each facility varies based on various factors, including prior audit results and a risk assessment profile. Our goal, however, is to have each facility audited at least once per year. In 2011, our third-party auditor conducted more than 450 audits on Carter’s behalf.“The third-party auditor conducts both announced and unannounced audits. We have found that providing a short notice period helps ensure that all required personnel and documentation can be made available. Unannounced audits, however, are conducted when previous audit results include serious or multiple violations of our code.”
  • Requires direct suppliers to certify that materials incorporated into the product comply with the laws regarding slavery and human trafficking of the country or countries in which they are doing business – Carter’s explains it requires each of its suppliers to annually certify that it complies with Carter’s code. In addition, each time a vendor enters into a purchase order with Carter’s, the vendor certifies compliance not only with Carter’s code but also with all applicable laws regarding slavery and human trafficking.
  • Maintains internal accountability standards and procedures for employees or contractors failing to meet company standards regarding slavery and trafficking – Carter’s says it considers forced labor, slavery and human trafficking to be zero-tolerance violations to its code. “If any supplier is found to be non-compliant in these areas, immediate corrective action must be taken by the supplier,” the company says. “Regardless of corrective action taken, Carter’s reserves the right to terminate our business relationships with any supplier that does not comply with our code.”
  • Provides company employees and management, who have direct responsibility for supply chain management, training on human trafficking and slavery, particularly with respect to mitigating risks within the supply chain of products – Carter’s, its agents and its independent, third-party auditors work directly with suppliers to train them on compliance with its code. “Internally, we are in the process of implementing a formal training process for our employees who have direct responsibility for the management of our supply chain,” the company says. “This training will educate them on the risks of human trafficking and slavery in the supply chain and what actions can be taken to mitigate these risks.” ­­­