Image: via Patagonia’s website.
On Wednesday, Baptist World Aid released their fourth Ethical Fashion Report which gives 330 brands a grade for how responsible they are being for the human rights of the workers in their (often) global supply chains. According to the Ethical Fashion Report’s website, ‘The grades awarded by the Ethical Fashion Report are a measure of the efforts undertaken by each company to mitigate the risks of forced labour, child labour and worker exploitation in their supply chains’, and that the Ethical Fashion Report’s research team ‘assesses each company’s labour rights management system according to 40 specific criteria. These assessments consider three critical stages of the supply chain as a proxy for the entire supply chain: raw materials, inputs production and final manufacturing’.
In the 2017 report, multinational companies including Patagonia and Zara received A grades, and the number of companies publishing full supplier lists had rise from 16 percent in 2013 to 26 percent in 2017.
However, according to Baptist World Aid Australia Advocacy Manager Gershon Nimbalker, in a media statement, “Beyond niche ethical producers that consistently score the top grade, multinational companies like Patagonia and Zara are trumping Australian fashion brands”.
Patagonia is one of the world leaders when it comes to both transparency and environmental responsibility. For example, the company exclusively uses certified organic cotton and it instituted the Traceable Down Scheme in 2007 which means the company traces ‘the source of our down from parent farm to apparel factory to help ensure that the birds are not force-fed or live-plucked’. Patagonia participates in the Fair Trade program to raise workers’ wages, improve their living standards and move them closer to earning a living wage. According to the company’s website, ‘Apparel workers who make Patagonia clothing earned an additional $833,000 from fall 2014 to February 2017 through our participation in the Fair Trade program’.