08 Jan

How Ethical Is Bonds?

From humble beginnings as a Sydney cotton mill over 100 years ago, Bonds have grown to become the number one underwear brand in Australia. But are Bonds as concerned with the wellbeing of their workers, animals and the planet as they are with their public image? Should they be the first thing we put on in the morning and the last thing we take off? We take a look at what goes on behind the scenes to see if Bonds truly live up to their good reputation.

Environmental Impact: Very Poor

Bonds have achieved such a low score in this category purely because they don’t publish sufficient relevant information about their environmental policies. We believe that, as a shopper, you have the right to know how a brand’s production practices impact the environment.

Labour Conditions: Good

Bonds score much higher when it comes to their labour conditions, based on the 2017 Ethical Fashion Report which looks at criteria including payment of a living wage, transparency and worker empowerment. Bonds do a good job tracing their supply chain including final stage, inputs and raw materials, and they publicly list key suppliers along with their addresses and any subcontracting adheres to code standards. They also audit most of their traced facilities over a two-year period across the entire supply chain.

Finally, Bonds received a good score in relation to improving wages across their supply chain. These are solid achievements and Bonds should be commended for their overall treatment of their workers. However, Bonds miss out on the top score by having only minimal worker empowerment initiatives. For a company that lives by the motto “We don’t work for each other. We work with each other”, it just doesn’t make sense for them not to go that extra mile for their employees across the board.

Animal welfare: It’s a Start

While Bonds do not use fur, leather, angora, or exotic animal hair or skin, they do use wool and mohair without specifying sources. This means that their wool may not come from non-mulesed sheep, and that is a problem! The cruel mohair industry is also something you don’t want to support as a conscious consumer. It is simply unnecessary for Bonds to include such materials in their products when, so many ethical, plant-based alternatives exist.

Overall Rating: Not Good Enough

Rated: Not Good Enough

Overall, we rate Bonds as ‘Not Good Enough’ based on information from the 2017 Ethical Fashion Report and our own research. While they do well on the labour front and are getting there in terms of animal welfare, their lack of transparency when it comes to environmental impact brings down their overall score. We strongly encourage Bonds to publish sufficient information on their environmental policies if they wish to achieve a better result.

Don’t let this bring you down, though! There are plenty of ethical alternatives for underwear, sleepwear and casualwear rated ‘Good’ or ‘Great’ in the Good On You app that deserve your support! Here are just some of our faves.

Editor's note: Feature image via Bonds, other images via brands mentioned.

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