© New Zealand Broadcasting School 2021

Ethical fashion guide slammed

Emma Turton

Some businesses included in the 2019 ethical fashion guide are rejecting the assessment.

On Wednesday the guide was released, rating 130 companies on their ethical practice.

However, some businesses included in the guide are disputing the way Tearfund carries out their assessment. Kate Sylvester, a high end fashion designer who chose not to participate received an F rating. 

"We feel it has limitations for small, boutique fashion businesses," Kate Sylvester's press release said after choosing not to be part of the research and instead focusing resources on their Mindful Fashion initiative.

"When making product in New Zealand, we lack an official auditing system for our local manufacturing partners," Sylvester also stated. 

Tearfund assesses companies which choose not to opt into the survey on the publicly available information on their website.

"We believe this is a fair approach because of the standard of transparency now expected in the fashion industry," Claire Hart, Education and Advocacy Manager of Tearfund said.

"If we only assessed companies that wanted to engage with us, we'd have a report of high grades and consumers would assume there were no issues of exploitation," Hart said.

Nine of the 12 companies which did not participate received a D or F grade. Kate Sylvester says this was because her brand was channeling ethical efforts elsewhere.

The guide measures the fashion supply chain at three stages of production; raw materials, inputs stage and final stage. Five themes are assessed; policies,  traceability and transparency, auditing and supplier relationships, worker empowerment and environmental management. 

For further information and to see the guide go to; https://www.tearfund.org.nz/Get-Involved/Ethical-Fashion-Guide.aspx