Cotton On
Clothing
Established in 1991 in Geelong. Today they have over 600 stores in Australia, NZ, Singapore and Hong Kong. Acquired Supre in Oct 2013.

Overall

Owned AUS
Rating C
About the Ratings
Cotton On Clothing Pty Ltd
AUS

Company Assessment

Cotton On Clothing Pty Ltd
Praise
A- grade in the Baptist World Aid Australia's 'Ethical Fashion Report 2019', which grades companies, from A to F, on the strength of their systems to mitigate against the risks of forced labour, child labour and worker exploitation in their supply chains, as well as protect the environment from the harmful impacts of the fashion industry. Assessment criteria fall into five main categories: policies, transparency and traceability, auditing and supplier relationships, worker empowerment and environmental management.
This company has either signed PETA's statement of assurance or provided a statement verifying that they do not conduct or commission any animal tests.
Source: PETA (2020)
This company has signed the Cotton Pledge with the Responsible Sourcing Network, signifying a public commitment to not knowingly source Uzbek cotton for the manufacturing of any of their products until the Government of Uzbekistan ends the practice of forced labor in its cotton sector. The Uzbek government uses local government officials, hospital directors, and school presidents to mobilize workers; and detains and tortures human rights defenders seeking to monitor the harvests.
This company has signed the 'Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh', a program endorsed by Bangladeshi and international unions and labor rights organizations. The ground-breaking program includes independent safety inspections with public reports, mandatory factory building renovations, the obligation by brands and retailers to underwrite the cost of repairs, and a vital role for workers and their unions – all in a legally-binding, enforceable agreement.
In 2020 Baptist World Aid Australia released The COVID Fashion Report, a special edition of their Ethical Fashion Report. The report is framed around six COVID Fashion Commitments that ask companies to demonstrate the steps and measures they are taking to protect and support the most vulnerable workers in their supply chains. This company showed evidence of actions that cover ALL areas of the COVID Fashion Commitments.
Oxfam Australia's Company Tracker compares the big clothing brands on their efforts to pay a living wage to the women working in their factories. This company has released the names and addresses of at least 70% of their supplier factories, and has taken some action towards paying a living wage within a set timeframe in the supply chain.
The Apparel and Footwear Supply Chain Transparency Pledge (Transparency Pledge) helps demonstrate apparel and footwear companies' commitment towards greater transparency in their manufacturing supply chain. Transparency of a company's manufacturing supply chain better enables a company to collaborate with civil society in identifying, assessing, and avoiding actual or potential adverse human rights impacts. This is a critical step that strengthens a company's human rights due diligence. This company is fully aligned with the Transparency Pledge, thereby committing to regularly publish on its website a list naming all sites that manufacture its products.
Criticism
According to Oxfam's 2019 report, "Made in Poverty - The True Cost of Fashion", this company sources from Bangladesh and Vietnam. Some of the many disturbing findings of the research in Bangladesh were that 100 per cent of workers interviewed were not paid a living wage, nine out of ten could not afford enough food for themselves and their families until their next monthly pay and seven out of 10 could not pay for medical treatment when they were sick or injured. In Vietnam, 99 per cent were not paid a living wage and seven out of 10 women interviewed felt their pay was not enough to meet their needs.
Information
In 2012 Cotton On was fined $1 million for selling children's sleepwear that was deemed so flammable it shouldn't have even been sold in Australia. Cotton On have also been at the centre of a number of controversies over the past few years including advertising bungles and an underpayment scandal. [Listed under Information due to age of court finding]
In July 2010 Cotton On back-paid 3289 of its employees more than $278,000 after it was discovered the company had failed to pay staff for attending training out of working hours. Cotton On Clothing Pty Ltd entered into an enforceable undertaking with the Fair Work Ombudsman whereby the company posted an apology on Facebook, sent Human Resources managers to workplace compliance training and agreed to provide 3 consecutive annual reports on its active compliance.
The Full Federal Court of Australia ordered Cotton On Clothing Pty Ltd to pay damages of $280,000 to Elwood Clothing Pty Ltd after finding that Cotton On Clothing Pty Ltd had infringed the copyright of T-shirt and swing-tag designs belonging to Elwood Cothing Pty Ltd.
This company has taken angora items off the shelves and promised not to use angora again, following a PETA campaign launched in Dec 2013 which revealed the cruelty inflicted on angora rabbits in Chinese factory farms, where 90% of the world's angora is produced.
Source: PETA (2018)
The Cotton On Foundation raises funds through the sale of charity items, such as reusable shopping bags, in Cotton On Group stores. With these funds they assist several project and other charities.
This company is one of of a handful of major Australian fashion retailers to publish the names and addresses of their supplier factories.
This company has extensive ethics claims on its website under the headings of ethical design, sourcing, production, logistics and retailing.
This company is a member of the Better Cotton Initiative, a voluntary initiative which encourages the adoption of better management practices in cotton cultivation to achieve measurable reductions in key environmental impacts, while improving social and economic benefits for cotton farmers, small and large, worldwide.
This company is a participant in the Action, Collaboration, Transformation (ACT) initiative, an initiative between international brands and retailers, manufacturers, and trade unions to address the issue of living wages in the textile and garment supply chain.
Source: HiiL (2018)
This company is a member of the Supplier Ethical Data Exchange (Sedex), a not-for-profit, membership organisation that leads work with buyers and suppliers to deliver improvements in responsible and ethical business practices in global supply chains. Tens of thousands of companies use Sedex to manage their performance around labour rights, health & safety, the environment and business ethics.
California, the UK and Australia have all enacted legislation requiring companies operating within their borders to disclose their efforts to eradicate modern slavery from their operations and supply chains. Follow the link to see this company's disclosure statement.
In 2020 Oxfam evaluated several clothing brand's purchasing practices across seven categories: whether a brand provides accurate forecasts of upcoming work to factories; its price negotiation strategies; whether a factory's environmental and social compliance influences the brand's purchasing decisions; how a brand places orders with factories; what its payment terms are; commitment to pay a living wage; and the transparency of a brand's supply chain. This company was given a score of 2 with 4 being the highest possible score.
In early 2017, China's Communist Party began a new incarceration campaign, rounding up, detaining and forcibly indoctrinating over 1 million Uyghurs and other Muslim minority ethnic groups in the far-western region. A coalition of more than 180 human rights groups is calling on apparel brands and retailers to stop using forced labour in the Uyghur Region and end their complicity in the Chinese government's human rights abuses. In 2019 the ABC reported that this company stopped buying cotton from the region over human rights concerns.
Source: ABC (2019)
In 2013 Cotton On Kids, the childrenswear arm of Cotton On, teamed up with Warner Bros Consumer Products Australia and New Zealand (part of media conglomerate Time Warner). Starting Jan 2014 Cotton On Kids selected baby and children's apparel and accessories will be sporting DC Comics' Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman designs. Time Warner is the world's largest media conglomerate.
The 2020 Fashion Transparency Index reviewed 250 of the world's largest fashion brands and retailers and ranked them according to how much they disclose about their social and environmental policies, practices and impacts. Brands owned by this company scored 25%, signifying it is doing a bit more than the others when it comes to having policies and commitments in place and auditing and reporting activities, but could be doing more. The average score was 23% and the highest score was 73%.

Company Details

Employees:
4500 (2012)
Subsidiaries:
Supre Holdings Pty Ltd
Teen female fashion retailer
Founded in 1984 by Hans and Helen van der Meulen. Operates across Australia and New Zealand. Clothes are designed in Australia and made locally and offshore. Acquired by Cotton On in Oct 2013.

Contact Details

Address:
14 Shepherd Court, North Geelong, VIC, 3215, Australia
Phone:
03 5277 7000
Website:
www.cottonon.com.au

Products / Brands

Cotton On
Cotton On Womens Fashion
Cotton On Menswear (casual)
Cotton On Everyday Apparel
Cotton On Body Underwear/Socks/Sleepwear
Cotton On Body Activewear
Cotton On Kids Childrenswear
Factorie Youth Fashion
Rubi Womens Shoes
Rubi Cosmetics
Supre Youth Fashion
Typo Homewares Stores