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Luxury Brands
Conventionally grown cotton uses more insecticides than any other single crop. (A global spend of $2.6 billion each year). This is more than 10 per cent of the world's pesticides and nearly 25 per cent of the world's insecticides. Many of these are the most hazardous pesticides on the market including aldicarb, phorate, methamidophos and endosulfan. These pesticides can poison farm workers, drift into neighboring communities, contaminate ground and surface water and kill beneficial insects and soil micro-organisms.
  • Look for organic cotton products from brands like Certton, Blessed Earth, Organic Embrace and Gaia Organic.
An average of 40 animals is required to make one fur coat. Whether the animal is trapped in the wild, bludgeoned on an ice floe, or bred on a factory farm, fur represents death and suffering.
  • Remind any fur-wearing friends that it's not cool!
  • Check Animals Australia Fur Free Shopping List for retailers and designers with fur-free policies Animals Australia
  • Be alert! More and more real fur is 'hidden' in mainstream clothes as trim or lining. Test before you buy. The Fur Test
  • Take the Animals Australia Pledge to be Fur Free! The Pledge
Mulesing is the practice of cutting the skin from the buttocks of lambs to produce a scar, which is done in response to the problem of 'flystrike'. Blowflys lay eggs in the skin of the sheep which hatch into larvae and feed on the sheep's tissue - resulting in the painful death of around 3 million sheep each year. Mulesing is a controversial practice, as it is done without anesthetic. After international campaigns by animal activist groups and the threatened boycott of Australian wool by European retailers, the Australian Wool Industry stated it would phase out mulesing but has since scrapped this earlier promise.
  • Find brands and retailers specialising in supplying wool certified as non-mulesed, such as NewMerinos, Plevna Downs and Merino Company.
  • See Alternatives to Wool at the Animals Australia Unleashed Faux Shopping Guide Unleashed
Sandblasting is what gives your jeans the worn-out look. Under the sandblasting process the denim is smoothed, shaped and cleaned by forcing abrasive particles across it at high speeds. This fashion however comes at a price: the health and even the lives of sandblasting workers.

Sandblasting causes silicosis which the World Health Organization states leads to lung fibrosis and emphysema. In later stages the critical condition can become disabling and is often fatal.

The International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers Federation launched its campaign to eliminate the use of sandblasting in the garment industry in 2009. In 2010 both Levi's and H&M jointly decided to eliminate the process from their supply chains representing a major breakthrough in the campaign.

  • See Clean Clothes Campaign's Deadly Denim report which investigates nine Bangladeshi factories Clean Clothes Campaign
  • Read more about sandblasting at The Lancet The Lancet
There is little transparency as to which clothing items are made by workers who are paid fairly and which clothes are made in sweatshop conditions. Modern-day slavery, which currently affects more than 30 million people, is used throughout the production of many clothing products sold on Australian shelves.

WORKING HOURS. Long working hours and forced overtime are a major concern among garment workers. Factory managers typically push employees to work between 10 and 12 hours, sometimes 16 to 18 hours a day. A seven-day working week is becoming the norm during the peak season, particularly in China, despite limits placed by the law.

WAGES. The majority of workers in the global fashion industry, rarely earn more than two dollars a day. Many have to work excessive hours for this meagre amount and struggle to properly feed, clothe and educate their families. The problem is complicated further when the millions of piece- rate workers and homeworkers within the industry are considered. When workers are paid by the number of garments they produce, rather than the number of hours they work, it becomes near-impossible to earn a living wage during a working week.

Women in El Salvador are paid just 29 cents for each $140 Nike NBA jersey they sew. To pay them a living wage, they would earn 58 cents per shirts, 4/10ths of one percent of the retail cost of the shirt.
  • Check out the Issues section of our website for more about labour exploitation in the apparel sector
  • See the Simple Plan and MTV EXIT video for 'This Song Saved My Life' MTVexit
  • See 'Behind the Swoosh' documentary and more about the fight against Nike's sweatshops at Behind the Swoosh
There is little or no transparency on the conditions behind common processes in most supply chains in the clothing industry. Baptist World Aid and Not For Sale's 2013 document, The Australian Fashion Report, identified that out of 128 clothing brands, 61% of companies do not know where their garments are manufactured; 76% not know where their garments are weaved, knitted and dyed; and 93% do not know where their cotton is sourced from.

[Please note the ratings in our guide indicate praises or criticisms in one or more issue areas in the ownership tree, but not necessarily the area of labour conditions. For many companies we don't have any information about the conditions their clothes are made under. We don't automatically allocate criticisms to companies for this, even though it is quite likely the company is sourcing from overseas sweatshops.]
  • See the Clothing: Alternatives table on our website for alternative retailers and brands with positive features such as Ethical Clothing Australia accreditation, Fairtrade certification, and use of sustainable materials. Alternatives
  • See Ethical Clothing Australia's list of accredited brands here ECA
Uzbekistan is one of the world's largest exprters of cotton. For decades, Uzbekistan has forced adults and children as young as 10 to pick cotton under appalling conditions each harvest season. The human rights concerns surrounding Uzbek cotton production has lead to a 'call for a boycott' of Uzbek cotton from Uzbek and international activists. Around 70 per cent of Uzbekistan cotton is sold to Bangladesh and China, where it is turned into fabric to be used in clothes, sheets and other cotton products to be sold into countries such as Australia.

There are 14 countries where cotton is produced using child labour. Child workers in the cottonseed industry are often in a state of debt bondage and work at least nine hours a day. Pesticides used during production cause health problems for the children and they report experiencing headaches, convulsions and respiratory problems. The long-term effects of exposure to toxic chemicals have not been measured.
  • Check out the Issues section of our website for more about child labour in cotton production
  • Watch White Gold - the true cost of cotton (video) White Gold
Company Ratings
A Praises, no criticism
B Some praise, no criticism
? No rating
C Praises, some criticism
D Criticism, some praise
F Criticisms
Note: Ratings are based on company record, including parent companies. They are not a comment on the product itself.
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