Monday, January 25, 2016

Made in Australia Pt. 2

The widespread acceptance of the sweat shop trade, where employees experience abysmal working conditions, long hours and low pay is an issue that is often met with apathy in Australian society. The disadvantages faced by the overseas sweat shop workers has been explored to an extent in my previous article on this issue called Made In Australia.

In continuation of that article, there are a number of Australian labels that are fighting against the pervasive mistreatment within the sweat shop trade, and are instead adhering to ethical guidelines. This is with an aim to produce clothing that benefits the Australian economy, the environment and to produce clothing with a glow of morality that mass produced brands without an ethical conscience can't offer. While completely eradicating sweat shops or rather the outsourcing of manufacturing in general is arguably futile and a potentially detrimental endeavour for overseas workers, the movement towards ethical and Australian made fashion has predominantly positive effects for the Australian fashion industry and the Australian economy.

Purchasing from overseas owned labels where the manufacturing is outsourced to developing countries has little economic benefit for Australia in comparison with Australian companies. This is because the majority of the tax is paid overseas, as well as the overall profits for the company and the manufacturing costs. Each consumer has a certain amount of purchasing power, and those who use their purchasing power for local or Australian businesses exert positive effects for the Australian economy. According to research published by the Industry Capability network, every $1 million dollars of new or retained manufacturing business in Australia creates $334,000 worth of tax revenue, $95,000 worth of welfare benefits saved and 10 full time jobs. While $1 million dollars may sound like a large figure, perspectively $5.1 billion dollars on clothing was spent in 2012 alone. 

As well as the economic benefits of buying Australian made, buying clothing manufactured in Australia also has various ethical benefits. Clothing made off shore does not need to comply with Australian standards when it comes to ethics as well as fair pay. Sweatshops are often located in developing countries where labour laws are nowhere near as salient as they are in Australia. Sweat shop workers can be exposed to toxic substances or dangerous machinery for hours on end, six or seven days a week without sufficient protection. The locations of sweatshops are commonly in dangerous and dilapidated buildings that are not safe places to work and have been known to catch on fire or collapse causing numerous fatalities, as occurred in the 2013 Rana Plaza collapse where around 1200 workers perished due to the collapse of the structurally unsound building.

Comparatively, the accreditation body Ethical Clothing Australia (ECA) works with the Australian textile, clothing and footwear companies to ensure that their supply chains are legally compliant. This means that garments accredited by ECA have been manufactured in Australia and that the manufacturer has committed to ensuring that all of the people involved in its production received at the minimum, the legally stated pay rates and conditions of pay.

The burgeoning ethical fashion industry within Melbourne represents a movement towards quality over quantity, as well as an awareness that the consumeristic mentality that the lowest price equals the best price is not an ethically acceptable practice nor an economically advantageous one. 

Brands that are Made in Australia and/or Ethically Accredited. 

Caves Collect
Hunter the label
Sister Studios
Dejour Jeans
Monk House Design (Stocks various overseas and local labels, some Australian made)
RM Williams Boots
Nico Underwear
Camp Cove Swim
FME apparel
Melbourne Apparel Co.

Monk House Design, located in East Brunswick, Melbourne offers a selection from an every changing and diverse array of Australian designers

R.M Williams, established in 1932 produces their leather boots in Prospect, South Australia