A+ to F, Which Aussie Labels Pass the Ethics Test?

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By Published On: April 11, 20190 Comments

How much harm has your new t-shirt caused? That is what is at the heart of the 2019 Ethical Fashion Guide, with many Aussie retailers still missing the mark.

The rankings are in, with Baptist World Aid releasing its 2019 report on ethical practices in the fashion industry. The criteria the rankings, from A+ to F, include gender equality, purchasing practices and labour conditions.

The sixth annual report revealed Australia’s best and worst performers (alongside international brands), with Etiko, Outland Denim, Kookai, Cotton On and Country Road among those who received an A- or above.

The Noni B Group, which owns brands such as Katies, Miller, Tigerlily and Lowes received poor marks.

What’s encouraging is that of the 130 companies surveyed, more than one-third showed some improvement on their overall gradings compared to this time last year.

Several brands, including Showpo and P.E. Nation, Camilla and Marc and Trelise Cooper have come under fire for not putting themselves under the ethical microscope for the rankings. Many companies either failed to respond to the survey or provide publicly available information in relation to the relevant criteria. Such companies received a score of F for non-participation.

Many of the non-participating companies have slammed the report for being misleading. Consumers are however demanding that companies shift from a “commercial in confidence mindset to moving to sharing and learning how to treat workers in the supply chain better,” said John Hickey, Chief Executive, Baptist World Aid.

Last there were 50,000 downloads of the organisation’s ethical shopping guide, and thousands of others viewed the website and printed versions. This year, the report is available on an app for the first time, making it easily accessible at the point of purchase.

Businesses are aware that sustainability and ethical practices are not just buzz words, but actual driving forces when it comes to consumers opening their wallets. The fast fashion sector is beginning to lose it glow, with consumers understanding the true cost of cheap goods.

A major challenge according to the report is ‘worker empowerment’ with a median D grade for this section of the rankings while environmental grading scored a median C+. Nearly 14 percent of companies have projects to improve wages in the majority of factories while nearly half have started to develop a living wage methodology. Only 5 percent of companies surveyed were able to demonstrate they’re paying a living wage to all workers at their final stage of production.

While the improvements are encouraging, as Hickey said: “There’s still a long way to go.”

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