Victoria’s Secret and Forever 21 are the worst offenders in the 2017 Ethical Fashion Report
But Zara and Patagonia are leading the way
Today Baptist World Aid Australia has released its fourth Ethical Fashion Report, examining labour rights management systems in the fashion industry. Its aim is to track the efforts of fashion companies in upholding workers’ rights, including a safe work place, a living wage, and freedom from slavery.
The report grades 106 companies (who collectively own 330 brands) A-F based on their efforts to reduce risks of child labour, forced labour and exploitation throughout supply chains.
Patagonia and Inditex (the company that owns Zara, Stradivarius and Bershka) scored the highest with an A grade. Inditex was particularly successful on tracing and monitoring suppliers back to fabric production, while Patagonia has done more to trace its raw materials and demonstrate improved salaries for workers. Other companies that scored with an A grade include Adidas Group, American Apparel (RIP) and Nudie Jeans.
ASOS, H&M, Lululemon Athetlica, New Balance and UNIQLO all scored with a B grade, while Arcadia Group got a C+, meaning there’s still room for improvement.
Companies that came out particularly badly include Abercrombie & Fitch, Forever 21 and L Brands – the company which owns Victoria’s Secret. Both companies scored a D grade. L Brands were marked as a “non-responsive” company, meaning they didn’t provide information about their supply chain practices.
Low transparency is often one of the biggest reasons why some companies score lowly in the Ethical Fashion Report. Companies are graded based on a combination of publicly available information and any information they are willing to disclose to the report’s researchers. Nike is an example of a company that still scored relatively well with a C range grade, even though they did not directly engage with the research process. This is a result of their strong commitment to publicly displaying how their products are made.
However, many companies like L Brands don’t make this information publicly available, making it almost impossible for buyers to make informed decisions. By sharing more about their labour rights systems, companies can help us understand what efforts they are taking to ensure the rights of workers are upheld.
The Ethical Fashion Report says: “One of the most notable trends for the industry has been the improved corporate transparency around supply chain practices. Transparency demonstrates a company’s willingness to be accountable to consumers, the public, and their workers. Transparency is critical to companies that wish to build trust.”
Here are the companies who scored the highest and lowest:
Companies that scored an A grade
Adidas Group (A-)
APG & Co (A-)
Liminal Apparel (A)
Mighty Good Undies (A+)
Nudie Jeans (A-)
Pacific Brands (A)
Companies that scored a D – F grades (brands marked with * were also non-responsive)
Abercrombie & Fitch* (D+)
Ally Fashion* (F)
Corporate Apparel Group * (F)
Fast Future Brands (F)
Forever 21 (D+)
L Brands* (D+)
Pavement Utd Brands* (D)
Roger David (F)