Contrary to common opinion, ‘Australian-made’ does not always mean ethically made (which btw. equally applies to ‘Made in Britain’ or any other of the ‘Made in …’ denominations). There are some 50,000 workers in the Australian textile, clothing and footwear industry, many who work from home and are vulnerable to exploitation.‘Ethical Fashion in Australia’ (ECA) is all about putting one’s own house in order before pointing the finger at other nations. True to this lemma (ECA), a federal government funded initiative that assists the local textile clothing and footwear (TCF) industry to ensure Australian workers receive fair wages and decent conditions, has developed an accreditation and labelling system that helps consumers make an informed choice for ethical shopping. The trademark and the underlying accreditation system is the Australian fashion industry’s own way to emphasize its ethical credentials, makes sure that everyone involved in its production received fair wages and worked in decent conditions, and helps accredited brands access a growing market for ethical and sustainable products.
Importantly, since January 1st 2010, in Australia all companies seeking public procurement contracts must comply with the Fair Work Principles. For TCF businesses, this specifically means that they are required to comply with the Homeworkers Code of Practise, implying that they must either be accredited by ECA or else being in the process of accreditation.
ECA newest campaign to achieve their goal is based on a simple idea: if consumers were to know the faces and personalities that made ‘their’ garment with their hands, they would be much more likely to develop an emotional link with it, and care for how and where it was produced. Their Meet Your Maker campaign hence aims to connect consumers with the people who have been involved behind the scenes in making their clothing and footwear.
The website that goes with the campaign – http://www.meetyourmaker.org.au/– will allow consumers to find out who the real life people behind the garments they purchase are. State of the art technology such as QR codes on a garment’s label are used to allow for an in-shop mobile access to information about and portraits of the makers. All ECA accredited labels are allowed to add a swing tag or label to their garments (the trademark stitched ‘e’) that identifies them as having been produced in an ethical manner, which specifically means that a garment was made in Australia and everyone involved in its production received, as a minimum, the legal rates of pay and fair working conditions. The Meet Your Maker campaign will also introduce a broader public to the ECA trademark.
The ECA hopes to distinguish the Australian brands leading the new wave of ethical fashion, ensuring all the workers involved in the manufacturing and production of their garments are paid fairly and treated properly.