Educate yourself.

Words by

Veronica Stanford

In the lead up to Fashion Revolution Day, Baptist World Aid Australia has released its fourth Ethical Fashion Report.

The report examines labour rights management systems in the fashion industry, with the aim to benchmark and track the efforts of fashion companies in upholding workers' rights.

Released today, the 2017 report has graded 106 companies (who collectively own 330 brands) from A to F on their ability to minimise the risks of forced labour, child labour and exploitation throughout supply chains.

This year, the median grade received by companies was a C+, with only 13 companies receiving an A grade.

The report states that only a few companies were able to trace their raw materials, with just seven per cent knowing where all of their cotton comes from.

On a more positive note, 59 per cent of companies assessed in the 2016 report had improved their grade since last year.

So, which brands stack up?

Of the large-scale international companies, Patagonia and Inditex (Zara) came out on top, each scoring an A grade. adidas scored an A-, while Puma scored a B-. 

When it comes to companies based in Australia, Cotton On Group, Pacific Brands and APG & Co were the best performing mid-to-large scale companies, each scoring an A-.

Honourable mentions go to Big W, Lululemon, Jeanswest and R.M. Williams, who each published their supplier lists in the past year. Factory X (Gorman, Dangerfield), Seed Heritage and General Pants Co. were also commended for sharing more information about their labour rights systems in the past year.

While there are a lot of positives to be taken from the report, there is still a fair way to go. A massive 72 per cent of companies scoring below a D+ have their headquarters in Australia.

There were also several companies assessed who did not take part in the report. These companies were therefore graded based on information they had made available to the public. While these brands may be doing more to improve ethical sourcing than what their grade reflects, the importance of transparency cannot be overlooked.

Companies who didn’t comply with the report yet scored a reasonable grade included Nike and The Warehouse, each taking out a C. Betts, Ally Fashion, Oxford and Voyager Distributing Co (Thurley) all scored F grades for not participating in the report and having little-to-no transparency. These brands were also offered the chance to release a statement about their refusal to participate in the report, however Nike, Corporate Apparel Group, Pavement United Brands, Oxford and The Warehouse were the only companies to take up this opportunity.

To find out more, you can read the full report here.


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