Women's fashion retailer Glassons has received an improved rating in a report which exposes worker exploitation in the fashion industry.

The Kiwi company was slated last year, when it received a D-rating, but this year Glassons has improved to a C+.

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Glassons slated by ethical fashion report

High-end Kiwi designer Karen Walker received a C this year, while New Zealand headquartered company Kathmandu received a B- (down from a B last year), and formerly New Zealand owned company Macpac received a D+.

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The ratings come from Baptist Word Aid Australia's ethical fashion guide, which grades companies based on their labour rights management systems.

Higher grades correspond to systems which, when implemented well, should reduce the risk of modern slavery, child labour and exploitation.

The guide was created to enable consumers to choose to buy clothing and other items from companies that treat their workers well.

The initiative was launched after a factory collapse in Bangladesh killed 1136 garment workers in April 2013.

The guide was created so that consumers can choose to buy clothing and other items from companies that treat their workers well. Photo / Baptist Word Aid Australia
The guide was created so that consumers can choose to buy clothing and other items from companies that treat their workers well. Photo / Baptist Word Aid Australia

Kiwi brands able to show that they were paying improved wages to workers in a portion of their supply chain were Glassons and Karen Walker.

The report graded more than 300 major global and domestic fashion brands.

Overall top performing brands were Zara, Cotton On Group, Country Road Group and Pacific Brands (Bonds).

Among the worst in Australia were Seed Heritage, Victoria's Secret, Forever 21 and General Pants.

"These grades tell us that consumers cannot be confident that these brands know who is making their clothes and conditions their clothes are being made in," said Baptist World Aid advocacy manager Gershon Nimbalker.

The research found that two thirds of companies were not taking any action to ensure that workers received a living wage to meet basic needs, such as food, water, shelter, clothing, power, healthcare and education.

Mr Nimbalker said popular brands like H&M, Kmart Australia and Pacific Brands (Bonds) had made "commendable" steps in ensuring their suppliers were paid enough to live on.

Other brands to do so included American Apparel, Autograph, Berlei, Dotti, and Portmans.

This year sees a huge improvement among many of the companies, with 70 per cent now working to trace where their fabrics come from, 39 per cent tracing the origins of their raw materials (such as cotton), and 32 per cent of companies paying wages significantly above the minimum.

But Mr Nimbalker said there was still work to do and the purpose of the report was ultimately to provide consumers and companies with the tools to drive change in how garment workers are treated in developing regions like India, Bangladesh, China, Myanmar, Uzbekistan and Cambodia.