30 Apr

How Ethical Is Witchery?

Witchery are an Australian women’s and children’s wear company and part of the Country Road Group. Their clothing is elegant and sophisticated boasting classic colours and cuts. Witchery are known for their White Shirt Campaign, which has raised $10 million so far for ovarian cancer research.  The brand may be investing in important issues in the public sphere – but does its ethics continue behind the scenes? Read on to find out how Witchery treat their workers, the planet and animals.

Environmental Impact:

Witchery are making some notable progress for the environment, and aren’t afraid to publicise their results along the way. They use some eco-friendly materials in their products and have signed the Australian Packaging Covenant. They also measure direct and indirect emissions and report them to the CDP. They have made public commitments to set science-based targets for emissions reductions, and met their previous target in 2016!

Witchery comply with a Restricted Substances List and have set a deadline for the elimination of hazardous chemicals by 2020. They report on their water usage and wastewater management, but only in their direct operations. Witchery’s score is let down because they have not set specific targets around water usage and don’t extend this transparency to their supply chain.

We give Witchery a ‘Good’ rating for the environment.  With a higher proportion of eco-friendly materials in production and more recyclable supplies and packaging, as well as a public commitment to reducing water usage, we may yet see a Great environment result for the brand.

Labour Conditions:

The brand has achieved a Good rating for its treatment of workers based on the 2018 Ethical Fashion Report.  This looks at criteria like whether brands pay a living wage, how transparent it is and workers’ empowerment . Witchery received the top score for their Supplier Code of Conduct. That means they trace all, or almost all, of their supply chain including final stage, inputs and raw materials. Witchery publicly list all or a portion of their suppliers along with their addresses.  The brand also audits all or most of its traced facilities across its entire supply chain. Witchery have good worker empowerment initiatives across some of their supply chain but, on the downside, they have made little to no progress towards paying a living wage.

Animal Welfare:

Animal welfare is the area where Witchery does least well, only achieving an It’s A Start rating. On the positive side, they steer clear of fur, down, angora and exotic animal skins and they use wool only from non-mulesed sheep.  But while they state that their leather is a by-product of other industries, they do not actually state its sources, and they continue to use exotic animal hairs such as cashmere, mohair and alpaca. Revealing the sources of animal products is the first step towards ensuring animal welfare, but even then industry standards are poor.  With so many amazing initiatives like these vegan leather alternatives brands have plenty of animal-friendly options to choose from.

Overall Rating: Good

Rated: Good

Overall, Witchery have achieved a Good rating based on the 2018 Ethical Fashion Report and our own research.

While they are making headway for the environment and have made a start ensuring good labour conditions, they do not prioritise animal welfare.

They are aiming to lead the way in sustainability in Australia and should be commended for their efforts so far.

Editor's note: All images via Witchery.

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