Just in case you weren’t aware of it, our little brand, Etiko, has achieved an A+ for ethical production in every single Australian Ethical Fashion Report since it was first launched back in 2013 ..the only fashion brand, big or small, to do so.
But this year we’ve boycotted it. Here’s why.
Ever since the first Ethical Fashion Guide was published, despite our A+ score we’ve had mixed feelings about the report. On the one hand, we appreciate the incredible amount of work that goes into the report. And we love that the report brings ethical fashion into the mainstream media and aims to help consumers make more informed decisions. But, we’ve always pointed out that the grading system is flawed. Fellow ethical brands Outland Denim and Joyya will also not be participating in the report this year.
Etiko’s founder and director, Nick (aka “Niko”) Savaidis, reckons that if a brand isn’t paying a living wage to textile workers and supply chain staff – like cotton growers – they shouldn’t be given a pass mark in the report. And historically, the report has used an A+ to F rating system.
In the 2021 report, Baptist World Aid calculated the industry average score was 33.6 – brands achieving this score were given a B rating. In any other circumstance like school or university, a score of 33.6/100 would not receive a B. And that’s where Nick’s concerns about greenwashing comes in. Customers assume a B rating is close to a top mark, but in this case, it’s simply not the truth. (You can read more about the scoring in a blog we wrote last year.)
“The report hasn’t previously provided an accurate representation of ethical fashion and actually contributes to consumer confusion,” Nick explains. “Most people didn’t understand how the grading system was scaled and the difference between an A+ brand and lower grades. The historic grading system gave kudos to brands that did very little.”
But it’s not all bad news in 2022. This year, the report has been updated and participating brands have been given a percentage score – just like we’ve been asking for since 2013.
“We’re pleased to hear that this year the report has changed to a percentage system – it’s a step in the right direction,” Savaidis says. “But we still think greater weight needs to be applied to the payment of a living wage for textile workers and the farmers who grow and process the raw materials.”
Nick also wants the report to take the environmental impact of each brand into a higher level of consideration when grading. “I don’t believe a brand that sells a majority of clothing made from plastic-based textiles, like polyester, should get a pass mark in the environmental score – they’re contributing to an environmental disaster. The same goes for brands that continue to use animal products in their products. Ethical fashion should be holistic and aim to provide minimal harm to people, planet and the animals that reside upon it.”
What do you think of the report and our decision to boycott it? Tell us your thoughts below.