Planning on hitting up those chain stores to purchase your summer wardrobe? Better check whether your favourites are on this “name and shame” list first…
Two years since the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh — which ended the lives of 1,100 factory employees and sparked investigation into working conditions in sweatshops — a worrying number of companies are still failing to ensure fair wages and safe conditions for their workers.
The Australian Fashion Report 2015, launched by international development organisations Baptist World Aid and Not For Sale, which aims to empower consumers with the knowledge needed to purchase fashion ethically.
This year, it assessed the ethical practices of 219 clothing brands — and found that popular retailers including Rockmans and Lowes are some of the worst offenders.
Many brands now produce in Bangladesh, which in recent years has become wildly popular for ready-made garment suppliers and where the wage is approximately $39 a month, 75% cheaper than China.
In Bangladesh, factories often try to meet the demands of international retailers,by accepting multiple orders which results in overburdening of their workers; Consequently, workers are forced to work overtime and meet high quotas, Australian Women’s Weekly reports.
Here’s how some of the biggest Austrlaian fashion retailers ranked in the report. You can read the full report, including a more extensive ‘name and shame’ list, here.
Some of the worst offenders: a sample of brands scoring Ds and Fs.
Industrie, the Australian menswear retailer.
Glassons, a New Zealander women’s fashion retailer.
Lowes, an Australian menswear and schoolwear retail chain.
R.M. Williams, a men’s and women’s apparel retailer.
Fast Future Brands, which owns ValleyGirl and TEMT.
Pretty Girl Fashion Group, which owns Rockmans, beme, W. Lane and Table Eight.
Not so bad: Some of the brands scoring As and Bs.
H & M, the major Swedish retailer for Women, Men and Children.
Adidas, which makes sports footwear, apparel and accessories.
Country Road Group, a group of Australian fashion retailers including Country Road, Trenery, Witchery and Mimco.
Cue Clothing Co, a popular womens clothing and accessories retailer.
Gap Inc, global retail giant offering clothing, accessories and personal care products for men, women and children.
Jeans West, a clothing retailer in Australia and New Zealand for women, men and children.
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Although far too many companies continue to use exploitative methods, it’s not all bad news: Since the 2013 Australian Fashion Report, two thirds of the companies which were named in the have improved their labor rights and a 100% have implemented codes of conduct (up 85%).
Fairtrade companies were, unsurprisingly, stand-outs in the 2015 report, with all their brands receiving A grades. In particular, the report praised Etiko and newcomer Audrey Blue for their fair wages.
“The Cotton On Group takes honours for being the highest rated, non-Fairtrade Australian retailer,” the report declared.
Meanwhile, “H&M and Inditex, the two biggest fashion retailers in the world, are amongst the best rated international brands, receiving A grades while also taking action to ensure workers at the final stage of production are being paid above the minimum wage.”
Here’s hoping the other Australian retailers follow those labels’ leads.
Do you check where your clothes are made? Do reports like this impact whether or not you will shop somewhere?