With 2019 marking the seventh year of the Ethical Fashion Guide and Baptist World Aid’s 60th birthday, your Advocacy Team had a lot to celebrate this Christmas! As we begin a new chapter in 2020 and start work on your next Ethical Fashion Guide, we’re taking some time to highlight the amazing work of brands and consumers in 2019 and share with you the challenges ahead.

Thank you for shopping ethically

You ordered the 2019 Ethical Fashion Guide over 34,400 times… and counting! In 2019, the Guide assessed 50 new brands (bringing the total number of brands graded to 480) and reflected huge improvement across Australia’s garment industry. For the first time, this research assessed action on environmental management, accounting for 10% of every brand’s final grade.

We also celebrated huge leaps in traceability and transparency in 2019.

  • 38% of companies improved their grade from 2018 to 2019 due to improvements made in addressing and remediating child and forced labour, investing in responsible purchasing practices, and investing in gender equality in their supply chains.
  • 48% of companies graded are now working to trace where their raw materials come from, while 81% are working to trace where their fabrics come from.
  • 37% of companies graded are publishing full direct supplier lists.

Alongside your 2019 Ethical Fashion Guide, the End Poverty mobile app was launched, making it easier than ever for you to take this handy tool with you when you shop. We also created this Grade Sharer, so you can advocate for change quickly and directly with your favourite brands!

Since releasing the Guide in April, brands have continued to take leaps and jumps forward in addressing human rights and environmental concerns in their supply chains – thanks to your faithful advocacy and ethical shopping. In October, we thanked Factory X for making a credible commitment to pay a living wage to employees making clothes for their multiple brands, including Gorman, Dangerfield, Princess Highway, Jack London, Alannah Hill, and L’urv. To these brands, we see your efforts to contribute to the global eradication of poverty, and we say THANK YOU!

Partnering for change

Beyond the Ethical Fashion Guide, there is even more to celebrate!

  • In April, you responded to another successful postcard campaign and advocated to your favourite chocolate brands at Easter time, calling on them to commit to paying cocoa farmers in their supply chains a living wage in order to help stop the use of child labour.
  • In September, you took part in Creative Conversations in Adelaide and Perth (as part of the Consumed campaign), coming up with innovative ideas designed to help us and our society escape the culture of consumerism.
  • In May Baptist World Aid witnessed the start of a new chapter of corporate collaboration, when we attended the 10th Annual Copenhagen Fashion Summit. More than 450 retail brands were challenged to consider their garments’ beginnings and ends and committed to eradicating the issues facing – and caused by – the global fashion industry.
  • And in August, Baptist World Aid partnered with like-minded organisations Oxfam Australia, Stop the Traffik (now Be Slavery Free), Hagar, and the Human Rights Law Centre to challenge the NSW government’s decision to send the Modern Slavery Act back to a Parliamentary Committee, risking a review or backpedal on this hugely important legislation.

Thank you for helping us faithfully advocate to government and corporations for laws and policies to improve the lives of workers in global supply chains.

The road ahead

Although there was a lot to celebrate in 2019, incidents such as the Lululemon exposure of worker abuse and the discovery of forced labour in garment factories in the Xinjiang province of China remind us that there is work still to be done.

Only 5% of companies graded by the 2019 Ethical Fashion Guide currently pay a living wage to workers, a number which is simply unacceptable. These ongoing issues that plague the garment industry motivate your Ethical Fashion Team to continue to advocate for change, to address human rights violations, to call for transparency in supply chains, to celebrate the small wins, and to provide support and practical advice for the next stage of the journey… will you join us in 2020?

You can now look to the year ahead with a clear understanding of what has been achieved, and what still needs to be done. Whether it’s through the End Poverty app, your Catalyst Group, or your conversations and purchases at your local shopping centre, your advocacy is needed!

Thank you for your ongoing support and faithful commitment to consume ethically and consciously in 2020.

Your next Ethical Fashion Guide is due to be published in October 2020.