Oxfam Australia claims in its Christmas Wish List that global fashion retailers Zara, Uniqlo, JeansWest, Modibodi and Best & Less are falling short in three key areas:

  1. Transparency and published factory lists
  2. A credible commitment to paying a living wage
  3. Improved purchasing practices

The key recommendations from Oxfam include enhanced transparency and urging brands to share up-to-date information about the production locations of their clothing.

While many global fashion companies have embraced transparency, Oxfam alleges the Just Group, Modibodi and Zara have chosen to keep their factory locations hidden.

Oxfam reported that retailers H&M and Kmart have a “tick” on their transparency efforts.

It was confirmed last week (24 November) that H&M plans to increase prices paid to garment manufacturers in line with the recent rise of minimum wages in Bangladesh.

Oxfam defines a living wage as an income that covers basic essentials for a family, including food, housing, healthcare, clothing, transportation, energy, water, childcare, education, and discretionary spending.

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The organisation calls for wages to be itemised in price negotiations, presenting it as an effective strategy against aggressive negotiations and a crucial step towards ensuring a living wage.

Oxfam has criticised brands such as Best & Less, Uniqlo, and Jeans West for not adopting this practice.

Allegedly, JeansWest “doesn’t have a current credible commitment to pay a living wage,” making it the only brand that Oxfam regards as lagging behind in this aspect, although the organisation said it has shown some improvement from the previous year.

Oxfam Australia chief executive Lyn Morgain said: “Ultimately, brands hold the power and responsibility to ensure better lives for the workers who make their clothes – including by paying a living wage – yet they are still falling short.”

None of the brands mentioned had responded to Just Style’s request for comment at the time of going to press.

Australian consumers seeks more fashion transparency

According to an Oxfam Australia poll, over 80% of Australian clothing consumers believe brands should be more transparent about their payment practices and the treatment of garment workers.

71% of respondents believe clothing brands exaggerate or mislead consumers about the conditions of overseas workers in their supply chains.

The organisation asserts that consumers are supporting calls for increased transparency from these brands.

The release of this data comes as the Australian fashion industry anticipates $2bn in profits, while Bangladeshi garment workers protest for improved wages.

Morgain added: “Garment workers are currently struggling to afford basic necessities like food, power and housing for themselves and families, which has been further exacerbated by the cost-of-living crisis.

“We stand in solidarity with the Bangladesh ready-made garment workers and trade unions’ recent demand for a minimum wage that meets their basic needs.”

The survey revealed that three quarters (76%) of Australian clothing consumers would be willing to pay more for an item if it guaranteed fair wages for garment workers.

Respondents estimated that 17% of the cost of a typical clothing item should go towards the workers with Oxfam pointing out that previous research found that on average, only 4% goes towards the worker.

“Oxfam’s call for transparency and urgent action echoes the sentiments of concerned consumers, who want to support garment workers in their efforts to break free from the cycle of poverty. We are united in our demands and envision a future where fashion is fair,” added Morgain.