Glassons in the firing line

The Truth Behind the Barcode: Australian Fashion Report 2015 is creating retail awareness around worker expoitation

GlassonsWomen’s clothing label, Glassons, has received an overall D- rating in the Truth Behind the Barcode: Australian Fashion Report 2015.

The report surveyed 219 fashion brands on their policies, traceability and transparency, monitoring and training, and workers’ rights.

Glassons effectively received an F ranking for all but the policies category, for which it was ranked D-plus.

This follows Glassons’ previous run ins with the public after displaying mannequins wearing fashions deemed too skinny and an advert featuring a woman riding a bull, which enraged animal rights groups.

Glassons has declined to comment, however, the publicity has resulted in widespread awareness of these issues, with many consumers commenting that the rating will affect their shopping choices.

The report says that although there are signs of progress, the worst overall performers were Australian fashion brands including the Just Group (owner of Just Jeans, Jay Jays, Dotti, Peter Alexander and Portmans), fast retail brands like Ally, Valley Girl, Temt, and Industrie, and low-cost suppliers Lowes and Best & Less.

Companies to have made significant improvements according to the report, include Kmart, which released a complete list of its direct suppliers; Cotton On Group, which has taken steps to identify suppliers deeper in their supply chain; and H&M, Zara, Country Road and Sussan Group, which have made efforts to paying better wages for overseas workers.

The report also highlights a lack of transparency, claiming 91 per cent of companies don’t know where their cotton is from.

“If companies don’t know how and where their products are made, then there’s noway for them to ensure that their workers are protected,” the report said.

“We could find little evidence that any of these fashion retailers were doing much, if anything, to protect workers overseas.

“Many of them had little or no publicly available information and/or didn’t respond to any of our requests to engage with the research process.”

The report was created by Baptist World Aid Australia in the wake of the 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh in which 1100 workers died amid exploitative working conditions.

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