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Fairtrade Brands Secure Top Spot In Ethical Fashion Report

20 April 2017 at 3:51 pm
Lina Caneva
Australian Fairtrade brands have received top marks when it comes to protecting the rights of farmers and workers, according to a new report.

Lina Caneva | 20 April 2017 at 3:51 pm


Fairtrade Brands Secure Top Spot In Ethical Fashion Report
20 April 2017 at 3:51 pm

Australian Fairtrade brands have received top marks when it comes to protecting the rights of farmers and workers, according to a new report.

Fairtrade certified companies Mighty Good Undies, Etiko and rrepp are the only three Australian labels to be awarded A+ grades in the Ethical Fashion Report published by Baptist World Aid Australia.

The report, now in its fourth year, assessed 106 Australian and New Zealand apparel and footwear companies across areas of production and social responsibility including policies, knowing suppliers, auditing and supplier relationships and worker empowerment.

The report said: “These companies knew their suppliers from farm to factory and were willing to publicly disclose where they were producing. Etiko and Mighty Good Undies also demonstrated that many of their suppliers were paying a living wage.”

Brands with Fairtrade certified lines such as Kowtow, Liminal, Kathmandu and Nudie Jeans, also came in strongly according to the report.

Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand CEO, Molly Harriss Olson said the consistently high marks received by the Australian and New Zealand Fairtrade certified fashion labels in the report were reflective of the strength of the wider Fairtrade system which offered traceability, independent auditing and wage improvements at multiple stages of the supply chain.

“We’re delighted that once again Fairtrade fashion brands have come out on top when it comes to supply chain transparency and workers’ rights,” Harriss Olson said.

“It’s indicative of Fairtrade’s key strengths that include transparent, audited fashion supply chains and a fairer price and better working conditions for all Fairtrade certified farmers.”

Harriss Olson said the latest report highlighted the improvements made across the industry, “but showed just how much further there still is to go”.

“Transparency remains a challenge, as does raw material traceability with only 7 per cent of surveyed companies knowing where all their cotton is coming from. All of the Fairtrade brands that were surveyed demonstrated full traceability of their cotton, right from the farm,” she said.

“The Baptist World Aid Ethical Fashion Report is a fantastic first step toward fair fashion. However it’s clear much more needs to be done to reshape global supply chains.

“The fashion industry has the ability to help millions of farmers and workers access fairer prices and improved working conditions.To do so, strong traceability and direct ties with suppliers must be commonplace.”

According to the report, of the multinational companies, Patagonia and Inditex (Zara) scored the highest with an A grade.

“Inditex was particularly strong on tracing and monitoring suppliers back to fabric production (second tier suppliers), while Patagonia has done relatively more to trace its raw materials (third tier suppliers) and demonstrate improved wages for workers,” the report found.

Cotton On Group, Pacific Brands and APG & Co were the best performing mid-to-large size companies headquartered in Australia, both scoring an A–. New Zealand’s best performers were Kowtow and Liminal Apparel, both scoring an A grade.

“One of the most encouraging trends has been the continued improvement in company efforts,” the report said.

“Over the past 12 months, Macpac, OrotonGroup, Lululemon Athletica, and Karen Walker have all demonstrated significant increases of investment in their labour rights approach. Each have moved into the B grade range. OrotonGroup, for instance, tightened its policies, invested substantially in identifying the factories it sources from, and improved its supplier relationship.

“Since [inception] the report has benchmarked and tracked the efforts of fashion companies to ensure that the rights of the workers who make their products are upheld. These rights including a safe workplace, a living wage, and freedom from slavery.

“April 24 marks the fourth anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh. Since then efforts to improve conditions for fashion workers have accelerated, spurred on by increased public scrutiny and concerted consumer calls for change. But the need remains pressing.”

Lina Caneva  |  Editor  |  @ProBonoNews

Lina Caneva has been a journalist for more than 35 years. She was the editor of Pro Bono Australia News from when it was founded in 2000 until 2018.

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