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Here’s how your favourite brands ranked in the 2019 Ethical Fashion Report

Words by Maeve Kerr-Crowley

Image via Baptist World Aid

See who’s making and failing the ethical and sustainable grade.

It’s that time of year again. No, not Easter – the release of Baptist World Aid’s annual Ethical Fashion Report.

For the sixth year in a row, the organisation has put fashion brands and their parent companies through the wringer and graded them on their ethical performance.

Consumers’ growing demand for accountability and transparency has clearly put a fire under the fashion industry, as a whopping 130 companies actively participated in this year’s report. That’s up from 114 companies last year, and from 41 in the very first 2013 report. 

Each company and brand is given a grade from A to F, based on criteria including transparency, where materials are sourced, and how workers at every level of the supply chain are treated.

The good news is, 38 per cent of companies saw an improvement to their grades in the last year, with the median grade sitting at C+.

One of the most notable areas of improvement is in gender equality, with 61 per cent of companies now working with policies to address inequality – an increase of 18 per cent from last year. Responsible purchasing practices have also increased by 22 per cent, with 45 per cent of companies now implementing relevant policies. 

That being said, there are still a number of concerns. Only 5 per cent of companies could prove that all workers at final stage facilities were being paid a living wage, and the report showed massive gaps in supply chain transparency.   

This year’s A-list (with grades of A, A+ or A-) includes companies like adidas, Etiko, Hanesbrand (Champion, Bonds etc.), Inditex (Zara), Kathmandu, Kowtow, the Cotton On Group, Country Road, lululemon and Nobody Denim.

At the other end of the scale, companies who scored an F include Ally Fashion, Bec and Bridge, Camilla and Marc, Hot Springs (P.E Nation, Cooper St etc.), Pavement United and Lowes.

It’s worth noting that all the companies who received an F grade refused to participate in the study this year and, as a result, were marked based on the information which was already available publically (if any). Brands who did not take part were also given the opportunity to give statements on their decision, and while some brands like Karen Walker (B) and The ICONIC (C+) did so, the majority did not.

The 2019 report also addressed new environmental management criteria, with Baptist World Aid Australia’s CEO, John Hickey, stating: “Baptist World Aid Australia acknowledges the extensive impact the fashion industry has on the environment; therefore, we have chosen to expand the report’s original focus from exclusively labour rights to address an issue we currently face on a global scale.”

Brands highlighted for their environmental performance include Gorman for the sustainability of its fibres, Jeanswest for its management of water usage, and Huffer for its take-back and redistribution initiative.

To read the full report, head here.

baptistworldaid.org.au

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