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Why ethical fashion?

In the last 20 years our consumption of clothing has increased by five times. The Asia-Pacific has become the world’s garment factory, with over 40 million workers employed in the industry. 

However, the garment industry has high rates of exploitation, child labour and forced labour. 

Too many workers in developing countries are working long hours in oppressive conditions to make the clothing we wear. They get paid wages so low that they and their families are trapped in a cycle of poverty.

  • 400%

    The increase in global consumption of clothes and textiles in the last 20 years.

  • $60

    The average monthly income of a Bangladeshi garment worker.

  • 4 days

    Most textile mill workers only get four days off each month in Southern India.

We want to stop exploitation

The garment industry can be a force for good. It can provide a stable source of income for millions of vulnerable people. This is why we’re encouraging brands to evaluate their supply chains and to ensure safe and fair working conditions.

When you choose ethical clothing you are voting against exploitation and for safe, fair working conditions.

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How are the brands graded?

The Ethical Fashion Report and Guide provide a snapshot of ethical sourcing practices in the garment industry. Companies are assessed on four themes:

These themes are assessed across three core stages of the supply chain; raw materials, inputs production and final production. The research grades companies from A to F based on their efforts to reduce the risk of exploitation across their supply chain.

What are we doing to fight exploitation?

We work to combat human trafficking and exploitation – both forced labour exploitation and commercial sexual exploitation – through prevention, prosecution, rescue and rehabilitation.

To combat labour exploitation, our partners in Nepal, Cambodia and Sri Lanka raise awareness of workers rights and provide education, counselling and career guidance.

To learn more check out our Protect cause

Want to do more?

Have we pushed your buttons, making you want to do more than just download the guide? Spread the word about combatting exploitation in the garment industry and request our Action Kit. It comes with information on hosting an awareness event, advocacy actions and fundraising suggestions! You can also write a letter to celebrate or challenge clothing companies you love on their ethical fashion grades.

Request an Action Kit           Download letter templates

Susekula’s Story


Susekula’s was 14 when a broker from the mills visited her village. He came with bright – but fake – photos of the factory, its uniforms, and the hostel which the girls would live in. That was followed by big promises – a stable income and a bonus of half a year’s pay, after three years, to help with her wedding.

The brokers sent Susekula and 60 other girls from her village to the city. The girls were employed as apprentices for the full three years of their contract, despite the fact that their training only took two weeks. This is a loophole which allows their employers to deny them fundamental worker's rights.

Over the last 15 years, this system of bonded child labour – the ‘Sumangali scheme’ – has been a pattern in textile factories across South India.

Susekula lived on site, behind a four-metre fence. She was rostered onto the night shift until midnight and was up at 5am. With lots of forced overtime, she was often sick, and the cotton fibres irritated her eyes.

Lunch was a 30-minute rush which included a 300m walk to the canteen, jostling with 500 other girls. It’s no surprise she suffered from fatigue, fainting and back pain.

Often she found her pay was deducted for minor ‘offenses’, like being one or two minutes late back from lunch.

Deductions were also made for ‘medical expenses’ but no medical treatment was offered.

Then, 30 months into a 36-month contract, things became even more difficult. The company terminated her contract so she wouldn’t get her promised lump sum.

Fortunately, after Susekula left the mill she came across an NGO which educates girls about the ‘Sumangali scheme’. They provided her with vocational training, meaning she could find income opportunities beyond the mill.