The Baptist World Aid Fashion Report assesses the ethical practices of 128 clothing brands to increase awareness around purchasing ethically.
The 2015 report found Just Jeans, Valley Girl, Glassons, Industrie Clothing and others clothing retailers operating in New Zealand failed the test.
The definition of “failure” is not completely cut and dried, however – when retailers such as Glassons didn’t engage with the survey, the Baptist World Aid used publicly available information to assess them.
Glassons CEO Graeme Popplewell says the “F” grade awarded to Glassons in workers rights, monitoring and training, and traceability and transparency categories is very disappointing.
“Glassons have a very detailed supplier manual that each supplier must adhere to,” Popplewell says.
He says it uses a small number of factories in China to produce its clothes.
“Our factories are well known to us and are required to provide inspection certification. We regularly visit them and any claim Glassons supports unethical processes is entirely unjust.”
He says to ensure the company isn’t subject to any further criticism, it will be reviewing all of its policies and procedures as a priority issue.
Glassons will also make sure they are available to the public, he says.
Just Group, which owns Just Jeans, Portmans, Jay Jay’s, Peter Alexander, Jacqui E and Dotti, didn’t want to comment on the matter.
However, it referred The Register to its ethical sourcing statement.
The statement says the group insists upon workers legal rights and that it inspects all factories that manufacture its clothing.
It also has joined the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety and has specific audit and compliance codes for the country.
It says the country makes up a small portion of its clothes sourcing.
The Baptist World Aid survey was created after a Bangladeshi clothing factory collapsed in 2012, killing more than 1100 workers.
Managing director of Industrie Clothing Nick Kelly says the company has no record of Baptist Church contacting Industrie to participate in its survey.
“The practice is that they give an F rating to companies for whom they can’t source any information. As Industrie is a very private ‘family style’ company this is the case,” Kelly says.
He says Industrie cares a lot about ethical manufacturing.
“It is a proud part of our business and our culture,” he says.
The company manufactures 99 percent of its merchandise in China and has a full time general manager of China production based there.
Factories must sign a contract and answer direct questions about practices, which are then verified.
However, Kelly says Industrie will seek out the organisation to be involved in its initiative from here on out.
“We are always trying to improve all of our practices and again I state our enthusiasm and good will towards this excellent initiative by the Baptist Church,” Kelly says.