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Who made my clothes?

Shopping for clothes can be complicated. Thinking about the working conditions of the people who made them and impacts on the environment can leave you riddled with doubt. Thankfully Good on You has recently started simple rating scheme for clothing in Australia. They've rated 1,000s of clothing brands based on research by their ‘ethical detectives’, like me.

Recently they asked me to do some research on the major ethical certification schemes in the fashion industry, to take a closer look at what they cover, criticisms, and how GoY should reflect them in their ratings.

The task looked easy at first but I soon realised there’s a lot of grey areas because of the way brands are responding to consumer demand for ethical clothing. Fair Trade, for example, certifies that farm workers who grow cotton are paid a fair (market) price. Big name brands have started making clothes from fabrics that are part fair trade or organic cotton (read more here). Having some fair trade cotton is good but it doesn’t tell you anything about the working conditions of the people who made the items of clothing. The GoY assessors had some interesting discussions about how to recognise these efforts in their ratings.

You don’t need to wade through the detail of how they did it, but if you want to know it’s available on the GoY website. You can also offer feedback and ask questions.

Next time you’re shopping you can quickly answer questions about who made your clothes by a quick check on the Good on You app. And you can read my report on the certification schemes here.

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