What to take from the Ethical Fashion Guide of 2018

  • News
  • April 30, 2018
  • Courtney Devereux
What to take from the Ethical Fashion Guide of 2018

The 2018 Ethical Fashion Guide by Tearfund has shown Kiwis how some of our most trusted brands have performed when put under the microscope. A lot of the brands within New Zealand performed well and had good results, yet some scored lower than expected. So, what do the grades reflect, and what should we take from the study?

The guide is based on research by Tearfund New Zealand and Baptist World Aid Australia. 114 companies were assessed, with grades given based on individual efforts to address worker exploitation in supply chains.

The final grade (A+ down to F) was based on three different areas of the supply chain, raw materials, inputs production and final stage production. This was broken down into four categories;

1)    Policies – 15 percent of grade

2)    Traceability and transparency – 30 percent of grade

3)    Auditing and supplier relationships – 25 percent of grade

4)    Worker empowerment - 30 percent of grade

The grey category which is left over signifies how much room for improvement each brand has, the more grey a brand has, the lower the score.

The final grade is an average of how the company performs in all four areas. Therefore, the circle device of two B+ graded brands may look different as each grade represents a range of percentage points.

The categories each consist of a percentage score, with the final grade determined by all combined to reach 100 percent.

So how did some of our favourite brands do?

AS Colour: C+

AS Colour came in relatively low for our expectations, scoring a pass mark of C+. The brand had a low percentage score for all categories but fell short most for worker empowerment.

Berlei and Barely There: A-

Both brands scored an A-, with matching scores for each category. Both brands performed well for transparency, but still, have room for improvement.

Barkers: C+

Menswear Barkers chain scored a pass of C+, falling short at worker empowerment and supplier relations.

Billabong: C

Surfwear brand Billabong scored a C, with its worst performing categories being worker empowerment and supplier relationships.

Bonds: A-

Underwear brands Bonds did well in both traceability/ transparency, as well supplier relations and policies.

Bras N Things: F

Bras N Things scored an F for declining to take part in the survey.

Converse: B-

The sneaker brand did well in policies and traceability but fell very short of supplier relations and almost no worker empowerment.

Cotton On brands: A

All of the Cotton on brands, from Cotton On, Cotton On kids, Supre, Rubi and Factorie all scored an A. performing equally well across all categories, but scoring highest on traceability and transparency.

Country Road: A

Also performing at an A grade level, Country Road scored high in all categories, with its lowest percentage coming from worker empowerment.

David Jones: B-

Australian retailer David Jones scored a B-, lacking in worker empowerment and supplier relationships.

Decjuba: F

Decjuba, along with its luxe basics line, scored an F for not taking part in the survey. The brand also refused last year, saying in a public statement it has its own in-house policy team to monitor working conditions.

Esprit: B+

Clothing line Esprit scored a B+, performing well in traceability but falling behind in worker empowerment.

EziBuy: D+

EziBuy, although participated did not pass, scoring D+. The brand came in short for all categories, with an almost zero rating for worker empowerment.

Farmers: D-

Farmers did not engage in the survey but scored a D- from what fashion guide could asses without the company’s contribution.

Forever new: B-

Forever New scored low for worker empowerment and supplier relationships but managed to bring up its overall score with good policies and transparency.

Glassons and Hallenstein: B+

The Glassons and Hallenstein chains performed will with transparency and policy, but were both pulled down by lower supplier relationships and worker empowerment.

H&M: B+

H&M had high percentage scores due to good transparency and its yearly sustainability report, yet lacked substantially in worker empowerment.

Ice Breaker: A+

Icebreaker, recently purchased by American company VF, scored well in all categories, but still had room for improvement.

Industrie: B+

Industrie scored well thanks in part to good working relations and complete transparency but was pulled down by low supplier relationships.

Jockey: A-

Scoring an A- puts Jockey among the top for our underwear brands, doing well in all categories; except falling shorter at worker empowerment.

Karen Walker: C

Karen Walker did not engage in the survey but scored a C from what fashion guide could asses without the company’s contribution.

Kathmandu: A

Kathmandu had high scores within transparency and policies, yet fell short at supplier relationships.

Kmart: B+

Kmart’s B+ was in large part thanks to transparency and policies, yet low supplier relations and even lower worker empowerment put the chain at a B rating.

Kowtow: A

Unsurprisingly, ethical fashion brand Kowtow scored high. Let down only by transparency and traceability.

Lululemon: A-

Great supplier relations and traceability put Lululemon in a good grade, yet lower worker empowerment saw a pull-down of performance.

Nike: B-

Sports giant Nike had poor worker empowerment and supplier relations; the label was saved only by good policies and traceability.

Puma: B

Coming in just above Nike, Puma’s better supplier relations saw it score a B grade, but was let down heavily by low worker empowerment.

R.M. Williams: B

Only transparency and good policies saved the shoe brand from a very low worker empowerment rating and average supplier relations.

Ruby: D+

Although good policies in place, Ruby fell short in every other aspect, including almost a zero-percentage score in worker empowerment.

The Warehouse: C

The Warehouse did not engage in the survey but scored a C from what fashion guide could asses without the company’s contribution.

Tigerlily: D

Scoring a D for the brand came from a low performance across all sectors, specifically more in worker empowerment and supplier relations.

Trelise Cooper: F

Trelise Cooper did not engage in the survey but scored an F from what fashion guide could asses without the company’s contribution.

Witchery: A-

Witchery was let down by worker empowerment and supplier relations but performed well when it came to transparency and policies.

Zara: A-

Zara, and its homeware range Zara Home, scored an A-. Doing well in part to good supplier relations and solid policies put in place.

So, what can we tell from the report? Most of our brands in New Zealand have good policies put in place but fall short when it comes to worker empowerment. This goes to show that although it may be easy to create good policies, sticking to them involves more effort.

Hearing workers voices through the supply chain is not easy, as it involves trade unions, collective bargaining agreements, and grievance mechanisms. Yet those companies who put in the effort scored the highest, and will no doubt earn loyalty and respect from the conscious consumer.

As for those who did not engage with the survey, the guide acknowledges that many of the non-responsive companies may be doing more to improve their ethical sourcing than it has been able to assess them on.

A lot of brands still have a long way to go to reach an acceptable score, yet the transparency the guide provides means consumers can know who they’re supporting and what they’re doing to support proper working conditions.

To see how other brands performed and more information on the grading system check out the Tearfund site.

This is a community discussion forum. Comment is free but please respect our rules:

  1. Don’t be abusive or use sweary type words
  2. Don’t break the law: libel, slander and defamatory comments are forbidden
  3. Don’t resort to name-calling, mean-spiritedness, or slagging off
  4. Don’t pretend to be someone else.

If we find you doing these things, your comments will be edited without recourse and you may be asked to go away and reconsider your actions.
We respect the right to free speech and anonymous comments. Don’t abuse the privilege.

Sponsored content

How eCard Solutions is boosting sustainability with recyclable gift cards

Consumers, for some time now, have been looking at their consumption of plastic. Single-use plastic shopping bags were banned in New Zealand during July 2019 ...


My feet and I are begging Ziera to pull through

  • Opinion
  • October 4, 2019
  • Sarah Dunn
My feet and I are begging Ziera to pull through

New Zealand heritage footwear retailer Ziera has gone into voluntary receivership. NZ Retail and The Register editor and associate publisher Sarah Dunn considers its place in the market and what needs to happen for it to return to form.

Read more

Genoapay enjoys strong growth in New Zealand

  • News
  • October 3, 2019
  • The Register team
Genoapay enjoys strong growth in New Zealand

As buy now pay later services continue to grow in popularity, Latitude Financial has announced that its digital payments platform Genoapay has partnered with 26 merchants.

Read more

Social scoreboard

Zavy and The Register have worked together to create a scoreboard that compares how the top 25 traditional media advertising spenders in New Zealand have performed on social media over the past 30 days, updated in real time.

Concept to closet
Business coverage of New Zealand Fashion Week.
Regional rollercoaster
What does retail look like in 2019 for ...
Town centres
A positive retail environment over the past 12 ...
Amazon Arrival
Keeping up with all things Amazon as it ...
The Retail Yearbook 2017
As we battle our way through the busiest ...
The future is bright
We spoke with four retailers in their twenties ...
Hospitality enhancing retail
Some think food and integrated hospitality offerings will ...
Spotlight on signage
At first glance, the humble in-store sign might ...
Red Awards 2016
The Red Awards for retail interior design celebrate ...
Auckland Unitary Plan
Auckland is changing. The Unitary Plan will decide ...
How to open a store
Sarah Dunn considers what it would take to ...
All things to all people
Kiwi retailers share their omnichannel strategies.
Rising stars
Retail's top young achievers.
Delivering on your promises
The sale isn't over until your item is ...
Retail in heartland New Zealand
Retailers keep the regions pumping, but how strong ...
Women in retail help one another. We spoke ...
The changing face of retail
Shifting demographics are creating big changes in New ...
The retail yearbook
With the help of experts in the retail ...
Retail rogues
We put the spotlight on staff training. Jai ...
Here come the giants
Topshop has arrived in Auckland’s CBD, David Jones ...
From retail to e-tail
Ecommerce has become part of the way mainstream ...
Loyalty in the digital age
How are retailers maintaining loyalty? Sarah Dunn, Elly ...
Window shopping: A spotlight on social media
Sarah Dunn and Elly Strang look at how ...
The Innovators | In partnership with Spark Business
Technology is rapidly changing the retail industry as ...

Hallenstein Glassons posts $29m profit for the year

  • News
  • October 3, 2019
  • Radio New Zealand
Hallenstein Glassons posts $29m profit for the year

Hallenstein Glassons has had a modest lift in sales and profits, helped by growth in Australia and online sales.

Read more

Five things companies should consider before they scale up

  • Opinion
  • October 3, 2019
  • Ben Kepes
Five things companies should consider before they scale up

Ben Kepes is a technology analyst, commentator and consultant. His commentary has been widely published in such outlets as Forbes, Wired and The Guardian, while he has also been an investor in a large number of early-stage technology start-ups across three continents and has had successful exits to listed and privately held companies in Canada, the US, and the UK. He currently sits on the boards of a number of non-profit, privately held and listed companies in New Zealand and the UK and has won a number of accolades, including being a recipient of the Sir Peter Blake Leadership Award in 2016. Here, he shares five things companies should consider before they scale up.

Read more

Countdown celebrates its top suppliers

  • News
  • October 3, 2019
  • The Register team
Countdown celebrates its top suppliers

In its annual supplier awards this week, Countdown has highlighted its top suppliers.

Read more
Next page
Results for
About us.

The Register provides essential industry news and intelligence, updated daily. And the digital newsletter delivers the latest news to your inbox twice a week — for free!

©2009–2015 Tangible Media. All rights reserved.
Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our Privacy policy.

The Register

Content marketing/advertising? Email or call 022 639 3004

View Media Kit