The Guide > Clothing > Fashion > Menswear (casual)
Menswear (casual)
Conventionally grown cotton uses more insecticides than any other single crop. (A global spend of $2.6 billion each year). This is more than 10 per cent of the world's pesticides and nearly 25 per cent of the world's insecticides. Many of these are the most hazardous pesticides on the market including aldicarb, phorate, methamidophos and endosulfan. These pesticides can poison farm workers, drift into neighboring communities, contaminate ground and surface water and kill beneficial insects and soil micro-organisms.
  • Look for organic cotton products from brands like Certton, Blessed Earth, Organic Embrace and Gaia Organic.
Mulesing is the practice of cutting the skin from the buttocks of lambs to produce a scar, which is done in response to the problem of 'flystrike'. Blowflys lay eggs in the skin of the sheep which hatch into larvae and feed on the sheep's tissue - resulting in the painful death of around 3 million sheep each year. Mulesing is a controversial practice, as it is done without anesthetic. After international campaigns by animal activist groups and the threatened boycott of Australian wool by European retailers, the Australian Wool Industry stated it would phase out mulesing but has since scrapped this earlier promise.
  • Find brands and retailers specialising in supplying wool certified as non-mulesed, such as NewMerinos, Plevna Downs and Merino Company.
  • See Alternatives to Wool at the Animals Australia Unleashed Faux Shopping Guide Unleashed
In Australia, the use of home-based outworkers in the cut make and trim stage of production is common. The Textile Clothing and Footwear Union of Australia estimate that 50-70% of clothing made in Australia is outsourced, usually to migrant women working at home or in backyard sweatshops.

Long supply chains mean designers and clothing labels contract work out to factories, who subcontract work out to other factories, backyard sweatshops or outworkers. Often outworkers receive payment and conditions significantly below their award and statutory entitlements. Outworkers are almost always paid in piece rates, usually equating to $5-8 an hour, but sometimes as little as $3 an hour. The low rates of pay that outworkers receive, combined with routinely short deadlines, results in many outworkers having to work extremely long hours, sometimes around the clock, or 7 days a week.
  • Check out the Issues section of our website for more about outworkers in Australia ethical.org.au/issues
  • Support Ethical Clothing Australia accredited businesses who have taken practical steps to keep their Australian-based supply chains transparent and ensure that they and any sub-contractors are compliant with the relevant Australian laws. Ethical Clothing Australia
There is little transparency as to which clothing items are made by workers who are paid fairly and which clothes are made in sweatshop conditions. Modern-day slavery, which currently affects more than 30 million people, is used throughout the production of many clothing products sold on Australian shelves.

WORKING HOURS. Long working hours and forced overtime are a major concern among garment workers. Factory managers typically push employees to work between 10 and 12 hours, sometimes 16 to 18 hours a day. A seven-day working week is becoming the norm during the peak season, particularly in China, despite limits placed by the law.

WAGES. The majority of workers in the global fashion industry, rarely earn more than two dollars a day. Many have to work excessive hours for this meagre amount and struggle to properly feed, clothe and educate their families. The problem is complicated further when the millions of piece- rate workers and homeworkers within the industry are considered. When workers are paid by the number of garments they produce, rather than the number of hours they work, it becomes near-impossible to earn a living wage during a working week.

Women in El Salvador are paid just 29 cents for each $140 Nike NBA jersey they sew. To pay them a living wage, they would earn 58 cents per shirts, 4/10ths of one percent of the retail cost of the shirt.
  • Check out the Issues section of our website for more about labour exploitation in the apparel sector ethical.org.au/issues
  • See the Simple Plan and MTV EXIT video for 'This Song Saved My Life' MTVexit
  • See 'Behind the Swoosh' documentary and more about the fight against Nike's sweatshops at www.teamsweat.org Behind the Swoosh
There is little or no transparency on the conditions behind common processes in most supply chains in the clothing industry. Baptist World Aid and Not For Sale's 2013 document, The Australian Fashion Report, identified that out of 128 clothing brands, 61% of companies do not know where their garments are manufactured; 76% not know where their garments are weaved, knitted and dyed; and 93% do not know where their cotton is sourced from.

[Please note the ratings in our guide indicate praises or criticisms in one or more issue areas in the ownership tree, but not necessarily the area of labour conditions. For many companies we don't have any information about the conditions their clothes are made under. We don't automatically allocate criticisms to companies for this, even though it is quite likely the company is sourcing from overseas sweatshops.]
  • See the Clothing: Alternatives table on our website for alternative retailers and brands with positive features such as Ethical Clothing Australia accreditation, Fairtrade certification, and use of sustainable materials. Alternatives
  • See Ethical Clothing Australia's list of accredited brands here ECA
Uzbekistan is one of the world's largest exprters of cotton. For decades, Uzbekistan has forced adults and children as young as 10 to pick cotton under appalling conditions each harvest season. The human rights concerns surrounding Uzbek cotton production has lead to a 'call for a boycott' of Uzbek cotton from Uzbek and international activists. Around 70 per cent of Uzbekistan cotton is sold to Bangladesh and China, where it is turned into fabric to be used in clothes, sheets and other cotton products to be sold into countries such as Australia.

There are 14 countries where cotton is produced using child labour. Child workers in the cottonseed industry are often in a state of debt bondage and work at least nine hours a day. Pesticides used during production cause health problems for the children and they report experiencing headaches, convulsions and respiratory problems. The long-term effects of exposure to toxic chemicals have not been measured.
  • Check out the Issues section of our website for more about child labour in cotton production ethical.org.au/issues
  • Watch White Gold - the true cost of cotton (video) White Gold
Features: Alternative fibres, Organic
Most of their clothing is made from hemp or bamboo, but they also use pure hemp, organic cotton, hemp cotton, hemp rayon, bamboo cotton, and soy cotton. Based in Silverwater, NSW.
Manufacturer: Braintree
Features: Alternative fibres
Hemp, silk, linen and cotton clothing. Based in Byron Bay NSW.
Manufacturer: Kashi
Features: Organic cotton, recycled cotton, fair wages
Denim and general apparel made from organic cotton and recycled materials. Based in Netherlands.
Manufacturer: Kuyichi
Features: Fairtrade, Organic
T-shirts made from 100% fair trade and organic certified cotton. They're made in factories in India with fair working conditions, where workers are paid a 'living wage'.
Manufacturer: Life Threads
Features: Alternative fibres, Australian owned
Hemp and bamboo clothing. Family-owned Australian company based in Islington, NSW.
Manufacturer: Made In Hemp
Features: Hand made
Online market for handmade & independently created items. Based in NSW.
Manufacturer: Made it
Features: Alternative fibres
Hemp clothing. Based in Margaret River, WA.
Manufacturer: Margaret River Hemp Co
Features: W.R.A.P certified, Made in Australia, Some stock Organic. Social enterprise.
Designs read differently in the mirror to quite literally cause people to "Stop and Reflect". Designs spark conversation and promote positive values. $3 from every purchase is donated to development projects. Screenprinted in Brisbane with enviro friendly (water soluable) inks using 100% renewable energy. All clothing is W.R.A.P certified, and Made in Australia. 20-30% of the shirts we stock are Australian made Organic. Based in QLD.
Manufacturer: Mirrogram Clothing
Features: Fairtrade, Organic
Fair-trade, organic cotton products, certified by ACO. Based in QLD.
Manufacturer: Organic Embrace
Features: Pre-loved fashion
Pre-loved fashion market in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide. Based in AUS.
Manufacturer: Round She Goes
Features: Fairtrade, Organic, Alternative fibres
Fair trade and sweat-shop free, hand loomed organic cotton, thread is dyed using natural dyes, and loomed into fabric, no pesticides are used in the process of growing, dyeing and looming this fabric. Based in QLD.
Manufacturer: Sinerji
Features: Employing the disadvantaged, empowering women, organic, upcycled, cause supporting
Social enterprise that source products from social projects all over the world. B Corporation. Online store.
Manufacturer: Thread Harvest
Features: Ethical Clothing Australia accredited, non-mulesed wool.
Australian owned and made wool garments. Online store. Based in NSW.
Manufacturer: Woolerina
Find farmers' markets, food coops, farm gate products at Local Harvest
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A Praises, no criticism
B Some praise, no criticism
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C Praises, some criticism
D Criticism, some praise
F Criticisms
Note: Ratings are based on company record, including parent companies. They are not a comment on the product itself.
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