If you missed this morning’s LIVE chat on Instagram, tune in next week and join the conversation. Every week, you have the opportunity to ask me anything about fashion, ethical manufacturing, sustainability and business to get the answers you need to grow your fashion business.
Marketing, PR, growth, wholesaling, social media, money, profit margins, sourcing and manufacturing… Whatever you’re struggling with – you can ask me for a solution – and today’s question was a really good one!
How do I know if my overseas fashion manufacturer is ethical and how do I know if they're paying ethical wages?
This is such an important topic, especially when you’re sourcing offshore and trying to find the right manufacturer who shares your ethical values. As a fashion business, it is your responsibility to do your homework. You have to know your supply chain if you’re going to tell a customer that you’re ethical. You have to know your fabrics if you’re going to tell a customer that you’re sustainable. You have to know your business inside and out and you have to know your suppliers.
The first thing you need to do is ask, ask, ask. You can’t always believe what you read online, so when you’re looking for an ethical fashion manufacturer offshore, pick up the phone, send an email, inbox them on Instagram and simply ask the question: are you ethical and how are you ethical? Have a verbal conversation. That’s the first step.
The second step is to get your paperwork in order. You’ll need to ask for wage agreements or staff contracts so you can read them yourself and make sure the hourly wage is ethical, super is being paid, overtime is being paid, and that the number of hours of expected work each week is reasonable. You need to see some written evidence and you need to sight a wage agreement yourself.
The third step is to do some third-party research. Do some sleuthing on Google. Is this manufacturer listed on any third-party ethical compliance websites like WRAP (Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production) or FWF which is the Fair Wear Foundation? Do your own research and see where they fit into the ethical fashion ecosystem. You can also contact the local government or a fashion industry organisation in the area and ask questions about a living wage for fashion workers. You can also ask if they know anything about the manufacturer or if the factory is operating ethically by local standards. You have to do some sleuthing. If you can’t physically visit a fashion manufacturer yourself, you have to do your homework.
Lastly, enter into an agreement with them. Have them commit to ethical manufacturing and have them sign off on a written statement to confirm they’re paying ethical wages. That way, you’ll know that you’ve done everything you can to make sure you’re selling clothing that’s been made ethically. It’s your responsibility.
It’s not a quick process, but it is a good process to follow to make sure you’re operating ethically and selling responsible fashion that is what you say it is.
If you have another question for me, inbox me on Instagram next week! You can also check out my online masterclass courses to learn how to grow your sustainable fashion business.