A report has revealed New Zealand’s ethical (and not so ethical) fashion companies for 2016, in the wake of ongoing tragedies caused by unsafe working conditions in garment sweatshops.
Baptist World Aid, the organisation behind the report, said there are 14.2 million people in forced labour exploitation and 168 million child labourers scattered across the global economy.
In 2014, the year following the death of over 1000 garment workers in Bangladesh, a survey revealed that around 90% of New Zealanders want to purchase ethically and socially conscientious products.
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This would mean the majority of people would not purchase clothing they knew was the result of a third-world country garment workers’ blood and sweat.
As true as this may be, factors are ever so slyly blurred during the long and complicated production, distribution, and marketing of such products.
It is near impossible for consumers to know the conditions under which they have been produced. This is noted in the report, which states that even some companies themselves aren’t fully aware of the conditions under which their clothes are produced.
Without knowing, consumers of these products are continuing to support multi-national corporations and the exploitation of third-world country citizens.
Baptist World Aid summarised New Zealand’s best and worst companies ethically, grading them based on their abilities to monitor the risks of exploitation in their supply chains. May you relish in it and simultaneously let it destroy your soul.
To put the above data into context, Salient asked some broke-ass Victoria students where they stand in terms of ethical fashion.
First year student Matt Best said he “prefers to op-shop,” but likes to buy new shoes—especially Nike (who scored poorly in the report with a C+), saying “I like their stuff, and the recognition that comes with the brand.”
Matt was “shocked” to hear news of tragedies such as the one in Bangladesh, but says it is “easy to brush to the side” because poor working conditions are not obvious when purchasing clothing.
Eliza Matthews, another VUW student, said she had recently watched a documentary on fast fashion called The True Cost which she said “changed my perspective on the fashion industry and made me question when and whether I actually need to buy clothes.”
So yeah, that super cute but very synthetic $10 scarf you picked up from boohoo.com to see you through a blistering Welly winter, the one you could buy while still having enough left in your sad student bank account to buy a Scrumpy on saturday night. Is it still cute if it’s the result of a third-world country’s garment worker’s blood and sweat?