03.The story behind the garment
When you’re buying clothes made overseas, it’s all but impossible to discover each step of the journey your clothes have taken. The clothing brands themselves can rarely trace the journey from fibre production through to textile and garment manufacture. A recent report into clothing supply chains, the Australian Fashion Report from Baptist World Aid found:
- 61% of companies didn’t know where their garments were made
- 76% didn’t know where their fabric was woven, knitted or dyed, and
- 93% didn’t know the origins of the raw fibre.
As Australian garment manufacturing has moved offshore, there’s been a shift in responsibility. A longer supply chain means brands may not know about safety issues and poor working conditions. Russell Mullane, CFO and group logistics manager of Sussan Group, which owns Sussan, Sportsgirl and Suzanne Grae, told CHOICE that while he’s confident the company is acting ethically by conducting factory audits, it can’t monitor every link in the supply chain continuously. “We live in Australia and it’s happening way up yonder. How can we really know?”
But ethical clothing campaigners are adamant companies should be responsible for their entire supply chain. They say poor working conditions are a result of companies’ sourcing practices that put pressure on suppliers to cut prices further down the line.