woman wearing light flowery blouse by kmart australia
27 Jan
woman wearing light flowery blouse by kmart australia

How Ethical Is Kmart?

Kmart is one of the most popular discount department stores in Australia. While there’s no denying Kmart is a quick and convenient go-to for clothing and accessories, we have to ask ourselves if affordability and availability trump ethical considerations. As conscious consumers, we have the right to know how a brand treats the earth and its inhabitants before we decide on our purchases. So, how does Kmart rate? How ethical is Kmart Australia?

Environmental Impact

Kmart’s environment rating is ‘Not Good Enough’. It uses some eco-friendly materials including recycled materials, which is a good first step, but there is no evidence it reduces any greenhouse gas emissions in its supply chain. While it has set a deadline to eliminate hazardous chemicals by 2025, there is no evidence it is on track to meet its target. There is also no evidence it minimises textile waste when manufacturing its products. There is still considerable room to improve the ambition and scope of Kmart’s environmental policies, particularly extending beyond direct operations and more towards the supply chain.

Labour Conditions

Unfortunately, Kmart’s labour rating has dropped two places to ‘Not Good Enough’ after a recent rerate. It received a score of 31-40% in the Fashion Transparency Index as none of its supply chain is certified by labour standards which ensure worker health and safety, living wages, or other labour rights. It is taking some steps to be transparent as it likely publishes information about its supplier policies, audits, and remediation processes, as well as a list of suppliers in the final stage of production. It also may be publishing limited information about forced labour, gender equality, or freedom of association. And unlike a lot of other large brands, it does disclose some policies to protect suppliers and workers in its supply chain from the impacts of COVID-19. However, there is no evidence it ensures payment of a living wage in its supply chain, which is key!

Animal Welfare

Third try isn’t a charm. Kmart is also ‘Not Good Enough’ for our animal friends. While it has a formal animal welfare policy aligned with Five Freedoms, and it does not use fur, angora, or exotic animal skin, it does use wool, leather, and exotic animal hair. There is also no evidence it traces any animal products even to the first stage of production. If you care about our fellow earthlings, steer clear of brands that don’t tell you where their animal-based materials come from!

Overall Rating: Not Good Enough

Kmart has received an overall rating of ‘Not Good Enough’ based on our own research. Note that Good On You ratings consider 100s of issues and it is not possible to list every relevant issue in a summary of the brand’s performance. For more information see our How We Rate page and our FAQs. Like many fast fashion brands, Kmart’s current business model is not ethically sound, and it needs to make significant efforts in all areas to improve its impact on people, the planet, and animals.

See the rating.

While Kmart may be off the cards for now, don’t fret! There are some ‘Good’ and ‘Great’ local Australian and New Zealand brands that deserve your support.

Good Swaps

Ethical alternatives to Kmart

Bhumi

Rated: Great
A woman in a yoga pose wears a dark grey tank.

Australian brand Bhumi makes 100% Fairtrade, organic, and vegan basics and bedding. The brand believes in sustainable luxury, paving the way for a new era in the textile industry by choosing fairtrade organic fabrics for all of its products. Find the clothes in sizes XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop Bhumi.

Etiko

Rated: Great
person wearing blue and white ethical sneakers by Etiko

Etiko is an Australian designer of organic, eco-friendly, and fair trade clothing and shoes. The brand constantly sets the bar for upholding and campaigning the human rights of people working in traditionally exploitative industry supply chains. Find the clothes in AU sizes 8-20, and the shoes in UK sizes 3-13.

See the rating.

Shop Etiko.

Kowtow

Rated: Great

Kowtow uses organic, fair trade cotton and non-toxic dyes to produce its clothes. It designs elegant, timeless womenswear, and also has a range of ceramics. Find the clothes in sizes XS-L.

See the rating.

Shop Kowtow @ Reve en Vert.

Shop Kowtow.

Boody

Rated: Good

Made from organically grown bamboo, Boody is an Australian clothing brand that supports the trend for all things green and ethical. Find the range in sizes XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop Boody.

Little Emperor (2-8 years)

Rated: Great
girl wearing pink little emperor t-shirt

Little Emperor creates unique, functional, and hard-wearing clothing for children. Its affordable clothing is made from environmentally friendly organic cotton, with every garment designed in Sydney, Australia and made in a Sedex-approved factory ensuring living wages and safe working conditions for workers. From the materials and packaging, right down to the energy supplier and banking, Little Emperor is dedicated to environmentally friendly practice. Named in honour of the adorable Emperor Penguin, Little Emperor is a member of 1% for the Planet, meaning 1% of sales are donated to environmental non-profits, helping protect the penguins’ home.

See the rating.

Shop Little Emperor.

Editor's note

Feature image via Kmart, all other images via brands mentioned. Good On You publishes the world’s most comprehensive ratings of fashion brands’ impact on people, the planet and animals. Use our Directory to search more than 2,500 brands. We may earn a commission on sales made using our offer codes or affiliate links.

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