How To Make Noise

Ethical Fashion Revisited: How Are The Big Brands Doing?

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[Brayden Sharp]

Six months ago, we talked about how the big brands were tackling the issue of modern slavery within their production lines and who the worst companies were in regards to the prevalence of slavery in these production lines. Today. we’re doing a recheck to see what has changed since then.

One thing that hasn’t changed is that the power of the people should not be underestimated.

Since the last article, we have seen gay marriage become legal in a further five countries, taking the total to 27, as well as many countries discussing the need for change in regards to abortion laws. All of this has been due to people power, and we’re sure we’ll see great things come of such power throughout 2018.

When enough people make noise, change occurs.

When enough people make noise, change occurs.

Today we’re going to remind you guys how the smallest change can help show big companies that society doesn’t accept slavery in this world. We still don’t want you to only shop at farmer’s markets, go level five vegan or anything drastic, but we do want you to have some knowledge about what you’re buying.

Again, we’ll address the big names: Adidas and Nike. Unfortunately, not much has changed and Adidas are still doing way better than Nike are for ensuring their products are made and sourced ethically.

Adidas’ Supplier Code of Conduct is still highly regarded as one of the best in the business and most of its supply chain is traceable, making them one of the most transparent big brands. They are still regarded as the most ethical big brand in the market and should be commended for the efforts they have made in turning around the image they held in the 90s.

Nike on the other hand has not made such advancements. While they have taken positive steps in ensuring their Supplier Code of Conduct maintains a high standard, they seem to have reverted to their old ways early this year by denying the Worker’s Rights Consortium access to any of its suppliers’ factories. This has done more than raise a few eyebrows as it essentially throws away a major tool in ensuring the enforcement of worker’s rights.

After receiving heavy criticism for this move in 2017, Nike have still not changed their policy in regards to this, which is very disappointing. Nike has however been forced by the UK Modern Slavery Act to disclose a list of factories the company uses throughout the world, ensuring that the company avoids companies notorious for slavery.

This is a positive step, but Nike has received most of their criticism for their supply chain and pressure should be put on them to disclose their material suppliers.

The situation with Nike still needs to be monitored, but as it stands we urge you to buy Adidas instead of Nike. Reebok are owned by Adidas as well, so they too are a great option.

Expensive designer brands such as PradaLouis Vuitton and Chanel still have not disclosed how their products are made, which is more than a little concerning considering the price tags associated with them. With no transparency within these companies, it is difficult to say whether what they are doing is right or wrong (and in these cases, its usually wrong). We avoid these brands.

Conversely, H&M and Zara have been credited for their transparency, releasing the names of their sources and informing the public on how their products are made. Their Supplier Code of Conducts have also been positively received, and they have both been doing more to enforce the rights of their workers since our last article.

It should also be noted that H&M have some question marks hovering over them in relation to their environmental impact, but in terms of fair trade they are above the luxury brands mentioned above—so don’t be mad if your boyfriend buys you presents from H&M instead of Prada; he’s being a lot more thoughtful than you think.

Vans have perhaps made the most progress since our last evaluation, with the company providing living wages, unions and being very transparent. They also trace their supply chains, which has become a very important step for the company. We now recommend them for their improvements.

Timberland, too, have been commended for their strong labour policies, auditing and supplier relationships, but they also fall down when it comes to enforcing the rights of their workers. However, they have taken the additional step of ensuring that a living wage is implemented for workers and these wages are constantly being improved. Because of these efforts, we recommend them.

It’s great to see that some of these companies have taken steps to reduce their impact on modern slavery in the last six month, and we can credit this to society putting pressure on companies to become more ethical. It’s really encouraging not only for us as advocates for the cause, but for everyone involved in fashion and business.

We still need the big names like Nike to take more steps, but even they have made good progression since our last article and we’re excited to see where they will be in another six months with other countries looking to enforce Modern Slavery Acts similar to the UK’s.

Did we miss any of your favourites? If you want to know how your any other brands measure up or if you would like more information on the above brands, drop us a comment below. We also recommend downloading the Good On You app for your phones, which is where most of the above information has been sourced from. It has a huge list of brands and information on how they are sourced, as well as listing alternative options for the deplorable ones.

Make Noise.


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