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The truth behind the barcode

With a new season arriving, what’s hot and what’s not in the world of fashion is all abuzz. But what’s also making headlines is the ever growing discussion surrounding ethical fashion. The call for more transparency on the ethics, sustainable practices and sourcing of garments from leading brands is being heard, thanks to reports such as the 2014 Australian Baptist Clothing Report. Here’s what you need to know.  

Five things to know about The Australian Baptist Clothing Report

1. The first version of the Baptist Clothing Report was created in 2013 following the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh – which saw 1,100 factory workers lose their lives in the second worse industrial accident of all time. It saw a move into more transparency from clothing companies – assessing their efforts to protect workers in their supply chain from exploitation and modern slave labour, grading each company from A to F.

Click here for some of the ethical brands Good supports, such as Chalky Digits 

2. Fast-forward two years later to today, 18 new companies representing more than 91 brands have now been graded.

3. Since the first report, two thirds of those companies originally graded have improved their labour rights management systems and an extraordinary 100 percent now have codes of conduct.

4. The report grades companies according to four main categories:

Policies. Evaluating a brand’s code of conduct, sourcing and subcontracting policies, and involvement with other organisations working to combat child and forced labour.

Traceability and transparency. Does the brand understand its own supply chain, and disclose critical information to the public?

Monitoring and training.  A brand’s monitoring program is critiqued to determine whether it addresses specific issues of child and forced labour.

Worker rights. The degree to which the brand supports worker well-being is examined here – and whether employees are able to claim their rights and earn a fair living wage.

5. All Fairtrade companies have A grades. Etiko, an Australian clothing and footwear brand took out the top honour of Most Ethical Brand. It can trace its entire supply chain and taken action – unlike the 91 percent of companies who are still unsure of where their cotton comes from, and 75 percent who don’t know the source of all their fabrics.

More interesting links 

To read the full report, visit www.baptistworldaid.org.au

Read about the responses from some of New Zealand’s leading retail brands who were scored poorly in the initial report at www.theregister.co.nz

See the Good Shopping Handbook online for some New Zealand ethical companies Good proudly supports – www.good.net.nz/shopping 

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