Would you pay 40 cents more for a piece of clothing, if it ensured that those who crafted your shmick new garment where payed a fair and sustainable wage? According to World Baptist Aid, that’s all it would take.
On Wednesday, the not-for-profit organisation released its 2017 Ethical Fashion Report, the fourth since 2013, which graded 106 apparel companies who sell products in Australia. The organisation looked at 330 brands and assigned them a grade ranging from A to F. Topping this year’s report were Zara and Patagonia, both earning an A grade, whereas, sadly, Australian staples such as Lowes and Valleygirl sat at a D+. The lowest marks went to companies such as Oxford, Ally Fashion and Roger David for being non-responsive to the report’s inquiries.
How is the ethics score measured? The grading system looks at the efforts undertaken by each company to mitigate risks of forced labour, child labour and worker exploitation within their supply chains. These stages include raw materials, inputs production and final manufacturing. Higher grades are given to companies with labour rights management systems that, if implemented well, should reduce the extent of worker exploitation.
According to advocacy manager Gershon Nimbalker, “Beyond niche ethical producers that consistently score the top grade, multinational companies, like Patagonia and Zara, are trumping Australian fashion brands,” with 72 percent of companies scoring below a D+ of those headquartered in Australia. This year’s report also revealed that Australia is trailing behind their multinational counterparts when it comes to workers’ rights and transparency in global supply chains.
While there is still a lot of progress to be made, research is revealing that firstly, consumers are more content with paying a little extra for clothes if it means that people are paid a fair wage, and secondly, there is steady progress towards paying workers a living wage that will cover the basics of food, water and clothing.
Click here to download a free electronic copy of the 2017 Ethical Fashion Guide.