Clothing sold by a Kiwi fashion brand as "New Zealand made" is actually being manufactured elsewhere, according to a report published this morning.

The Spinoff, via staff writer Madeleine Chapman, said the World brand, owned by Denise L'Estrange Corbet, has been selling T-shirts, sweatshirts and sweatpants manufactured in China and Bangladesh.

L'Estrange-Corbet was made a dame for services to fashion at the end of last year, and has long been a critic of overseas manufacturing.

The revelations from the Spinoff now confirm that some T-shirts, sourced from AS Colour, were made in Bangladesh, while sweatpants and sweatshirts, also from AS Colour, were made in China.

Advertisement

L'Estrange Corbet told Newstalk ZB that she was "furious" about the article and said only a small percentage of her products are manufactured abroad.

"Ninety-nine per cent of our clothing is made here," she said.

She explained that she had to take manufacturing of T-shirts abroad because the local factory she previously used had closed down.

"Seven years ago, the last factory closed, so we were no longer able to access the machinery we needed, so we went offshore," she said.

"Before we did this, we used a New Zealand company and we wanted all the accreditations met by us before we went ahead and we were assured that they do not use child labour. People work 40-hour weeks, they get lunch breaks and they're treated no differently to our New Zealand employees. We're not the sort of brand that is going to go in blind and just do this."

She said this issue will only become more pronounced as more local factories close down, with fashion retailers taking their production abroad.

"We actually stopped the production of denim jeans and jackets because we could not get them made in New Zealand any longer. We made a decision to stop a very profitable part of the business because we didn't want to take it offshore."

Asked whether the "made in New Zealand" tags on the clothing at World might have created some confusion among shoppers, L'estrange Corbet said it didn't.

Advertisement
The World T-shirt is sourced from AS Colour and the sequin patch can be found on AliExpress. Photo / World
The World T-shirt is sourced from AS Colour and the sequin patch can be found on AliExpress. Photo / World

L'Estrange Corbet defended her decision to source materials from AS Colour, telling the Spinoff only a small percentage of the garments sold at World are produced abroad and that AS Colour does not use child labour.

'Just the tip of the iceberg'

Companies with garments fully made in New Zealand are, unsurprisingly, concerned about trust issues.

Ben Kepes, owner of Cactus Outdoor, a Christchurch-based outdoor clothing company, says the World saga is part of a "much bigger issue".

Ben Kepes says WORLD is misleading customers about its clothing. Photo / Supplied
Ben Kepes says WORLD is misleading customers about its clothing. Photo / Supplied

He said that it was possible to make t-shirts in New Zealand.

Kepes adds this is "just the tip of the iceberg" and World is not the only brand out there leveraging the "Made in NZ" tag without actually putting in the hard work.

"This has been going on for about 16 years," he said.

Cactus Outdoor has been working to promote its 25 years of manufacturing garments in New Zealand, using social media to show exactly where and who is making the clothes.