Shoppers want ethical ratings displayed in clothing stores

May 4, 2018

Shoppers want ethical ratings displayed in clothing stores

Despite AS Colour's promise of child free labor, the 'quality basics' supplier "shocked" its customers with a disappointing ethical grade of C+. Photo: Zoe Madden-Smith

Ponsonby shoppers say they want to see ethical ratings displayed in stores after being “shocked” by Tearfund’s 2018 Ethical Fashion report.

Released on August 18 2018, the report graded 407 brands on transparency across supply chains, worker rights and ethical policies and practices in place.

Three of the five highest-rated brands were New Zealand companies including Common Good, Freeset and Icebreaker who was also the most improved brand, leaping from a D- grade in 2017 to an A+.

Despite New Zealand’s B- grade average beating the international average of C+, the public were shocked by low scoring brands, including AS Colour (C+), The Warehouse (C), Karen Walker (C) and Farmers (D-).

“My biggest shock is probably AS colour because I actually go there,” says 20-year-old AUT design student, Hannah Rayneau.

Elliot Alexander, who works at the Ponsonby art gallery, Endemic World, says he was also surprised by AS Colour’s grade.

“Yeah I thought they would have been like a B to A, they put that a lot on their website, their 'policies' ,” says Mr Alexander, “and Farmers getting a D, that’s a shocker, it’s a household name in this country.”

A number of shoppers say they wouldn’t buy from stores with D or F ratings.

“It should be compulsory to have these grades shown in stores, just like restaurant health ratings. We need to be informed before we buy,” says 20-year-old AUT health science student, Ellen Hackett.

Ms Hackett says she will now reconsider going into AS Colour knowing its low rating.

Coco Taylor, a 21-year-old bartender at Grand Central, was also shocked by Farmers’ D grade and says clothing ratings should be treated like food ratings so people are aware.

“Yeah I mean, if you can do that for food ratings. It’s probably a good idea to tell people how their clothing and socks are being made,” she says.

Zach Martin, a 21-year-old music producer, says displaying high ethical ratings could even help boost sales.

“If the information was displayed, the same way they put free range on eggs in the supermarket. When you see that you are probably going to be more inclined to purchase that product.”

Ms Rayneau hopes that having these ratings out in the open will “wake up” brands and encourage them to earn a grade they are proud of.

“It’s definitely something you can advertise, I think people care. These coming out should have an effect on our consumerism.”

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