Women throwing cotton onto a pile

Fairtrade brands have once again received top marks when it comes to protecting the rights of farmers and workers, according a new report released today. 

Fairtrade certified companies Mighty Good Undies, Etiko and RREPP top the table as the only three Australian labels to be awarded A+ grades in the Ethical Fashion Report published by Baptist World Aid Australia.

The report, now in its fourth year, assesses 106 Australian and New Zealand apparel and footwear companies across three stages of production, on four key themes of social responsibility: policies, knowing suppliers, auditing and supplier relationships and worker empowerment. Building on the success shown in previous reports, the only brands to achieve an A+ grade are Etiko, RREPP, Mighty Good Undies and Audrey Blue – all proudly Fairtrade certified labels. Also coming in strongly were brands with Fairtrade certified lines, Kowtow, Liminal, Kathmandu and Nudie Jeans.

The consistently high marks received by the Australian and New Zealand Fairtrade certified fashion labels in this report is reflective of the strength of the wider Fairtrade system which offers traceability, independent auditing and wage improvements at multiple stages of the supply chain.

“We’re delighted that once again Fairtrade fashion brands have come out on top when it comes to supply chain transparency and workers’ rights,” says Fairtrade Australia & New Zealand CEO, Molly Harriss Olson.

“It’s indicative of Fairtrade’s key strengths that include transparent, audited fashion supply chains and a fairer price and better working conditions for all Fairtrade certified farmers.”

This year’s report highlights the improvements made across the industry, but shows just how much further there still is to go. Transparency remains a challenge, as does raw material traceability with only 7 percent of surveyed companies knowing where all their cotton is coming from. All of the Fairtrade brands that were surveyed demonstrated full traceability of their cotton, right from the farm.

“The Baptist World Aid Ethical Fashion Report is a fantastic first step toward fair fashion. However it’s clear much more needs to be done to reshape global supply chains. The fashion industry has the ability to help millions of farmers and workers access fairer prices and improved working conditions. To do so strong traceability and direct ties with suppliers must be commonplace,” Harriss Olson says.

“The Ethical Fashion Report and other reports like it open up the stage for a productive conversation about issues such as traceability and transparency in the fashion industry. It’s only through this dialogue and then considered implementation of Fairtrade Standards that we will all be able to achieve a fairer industry for global textile producers.”

Next Monday, April 24, marks the start of Fashion Revolution Week and the fourth anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh. The week invites consumers from more than 70 countries to take part in actions to raise awareness of the true cost of fashion and to show the world that change is possible. This year, consumers will be raising their voices calling for greater transparency in supply chains and seeking to know the real people behind supply chains by asking brands to answer the question #whomademyclothes?