From Shein To Kmart: Ranking The Least And Most Ethical Fashion Brands

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Fast fashion — we’ve heard the stories and seen the conditions but a new Australian report has revealed just how bad it is, with only 10 percent of brands paying their factory workers a living wage.

The new report is with Baptist World Aid, who ranked 581 Australian and international brands – from Kmart to Adidas – and scored them out of 100 on six different issues. It looked at issues like do brands know where their materials come from, are they listening to their workers, and whether brands are taking action on climate change.

The timing of the report falls alongside Channel 4’s damning new documentary looking into ultra fast-fashion machine Shein, which allegedly pays workers only 54 cents per item produced.

The Most And Least Ethical Brands

Brands that scored less than five out of 100 included the likes of Aussie sports brand 2XU which got a 0 score card alongside Sheike and Windsor Smith. Shopping centre staples like Valley Girl and City Beach scored a measly two and Shein came in with a sad four.

Those that scored over 50 included Zara on a surprising 60, Kmart and Adidas coming close with a 57 and 58, and Mighty Good Basics at an 86.

While Kourtney Kardashian’s latest weird adventure with Boohoo doesn’t get a mention, the entire brand of Boohoo unsurprisingly only scored a 24 out of 100.

Overall, 40 percent of companies don’t know where their raw materials come from. And only 15% of companies had a climate target for their supply chain.

Of course, for the brands performing over 50, this score doesn’t give them an automatic golden standard for ethical practices or that they should be put on a pedestal for what other brands should strive towards.

For instance, people in comment sections online have argued that the brands barely scratching above 50 actually should be on the worst ranked list.

On the flip side, the methodology of scoring brands out of 100 has made the data super shareable and easy to digest. Hopefully even just top level knowledge on which brands are failing their employees and the environment will inspire consumers to be more mindful shoppers.

Which presumably is the premise behind Channel 4’s inside scoop into Shein, which is worth a whopping $100 billion dollars.

The documentary aired this week and follows an undercover journalist who went into Shein factories to allegedly find employees working 18 hour days with no weekends.

Shein has responded to the claims, which they say violate their Code of Conduct, and have asked for specific information from Channel 4 so they can investigate further.

Interestingly in the same week Shein launched a new resale system for customers to resell items they no longer want. A distraction to the damning allegations perhaps?

Even so, it was already widely known that Shein’s business model relies on overproduction and exploitation before the documentary. They have more than 2,000 new styles added to their online stores daily.

And the company will need to do a lot more than a resale option to stop ending up on the bottom of an ethical list.