Blog: Leonie BarrieLuxury labels fail sustainability audit

Leonie Barrie | 30 November 2007

Budget clothing chains have today been knocked in a report from the Co-operative Bank, which found increasing numbers of British shoppers are boycotting cheap brands amid concerns that low cost is synonymous with poor labour conditions in foreign factories. The Ethical Consumerism Report 2007 calculates retailers lost GBP338m in 2006 over consumer worries about sweatshops and low wages for overseas workers.

By implication, then, all should be well at the top end of the market? Well, no. Another report, also published today, claims luxury brands like Tod’s and Gucci fail miserably when it comes to exploiting labour and hiding their supply chains from outside scrutiny. The report from the charity WWF claims to be the first major audit of sustainability in the world's top ten luxury companies.

Surely they should lead by example? That’s exactly what WWF wants, suggesting that producers of luxury goods should use their huge budgets – and justify their high price tags – by setting a new standard for social and environmental excellence.


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