Kowtow achieved an A grade in this year’s Ethical Fashion Guide. Images supplied.
Tearfund’s Ethical Fashion Guide Aotearoa New Zealand was released today and the annual guide marks five years since the horrific Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh. The disaster made global headlines as 1100 factory workers lost their lives, all of which were involved in garment production for some of the world’s biggest fashion brands. It was a huge wake-up call for the fashion industry and for consumers, and since then much has been done and is still being done to try and improve the conditions for workers in which garments are produced and to hold brand’s accountable for their supply chains.
This year the guide graded 114 companies representing 407 brands from A – F, which is based on the levels of visibility and transparency across their supply chain in regards to worker rights, policies and practices. This is the second time New Zealand has been included in the report with the addition of several more brands this year including RUBY, Trelise Cooper and Barkers.
Several brands have gone up and down in their grading with the most significant improvement going to Icebreaker who went from a D- last year to an A+ this year. Among the top graded brands were the likes of Wellington-based womenswear label Kowtow, who received an A grade and have held ethical values at the core of their business since the beginning under the direction of designer and founder Gosia Piatek.
The aim of this guide is essentially to show which brands are most transparent about their practices and ethics, as transparency gives us a clear picture of the brand’s supply chains. By publishing the details of their suppliers it shows that the brands know exactly where and how their garments are being made and the conditions they are made in. It isn’t necessarily an easy thing to do for many reasons and we commend all the brands that took part and are working on improving their grade.
It’s not necessarily fair to give the bottom grade to those who didn’t participate though and just because your favourite brand didn’t score well it’s not a reason to boycott them. Instead, we should use this as an opportunity to ask brands about the things we care about in regards to ethics, sustainability and supply chains. The great improvements that we have seen and the willingness of more brands to participate shows that we as consumers care about who makes our clothes and the conditions they’re made in. There are many brands that quite rightly care about these things too and the awareness that has been raised about these issues since the Rana Plaza factory collapse means the fashion industry continues to improve as more people use their voices to ask questions.
Here are the NZ brands graded in the Tearfund’s Ethical Fashion Guide Aotearoa New Zealand:
Download a copy of the Tearfund Ethical Fashion Guide Aotearoa New Zealand 2018 here.