8 May 2018

World customers could take clothing back - Consumer NZ

6:35 pm on 8 May 2018

Customers unhappy about fashion brand World's false labelling of garments as made in New Zealand could take them back, says Consumer New Zealand.

One of the WORLD clothing items made in Bangladesh.

One of the T-shirt designs at the centre of the controversy Photo: WORLD

The company has come under fire for attaching swing tags to some clothing items - including T-shirts, sweatshirts and sweatpants - that were actually made in Bangladesh, by the brand AS Colour.

Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin said under the law, customers should not be deceived or misled by labels and they could return the items.

"They thought it was a T-shirt that was designed and made in New Zealand by World, and that's why they paid a premium for it. I mean, they could probably go and buy the same T-shirt for about a quarter of the price at another shop."

Meanwhile, Buy New Zealand Made said simply embellishing a garment locally at the end of the production process would not be enough to meet its label criteria.

Acting executive director Anna Heyward said the fashion brand was not an official licencee, but if it was, they would ask it to remove the Made in New Zealand label immediately.

"So Buy New Zealand Made's stance is that we wouldn't allow our New Zealand-made branding to be used directly on products that weren't New Zealand-made, as we think people would find this misleading."

World's owner Denise L'Estrange Corbett told The Spinoff yesterday that World had been selling T-shirts made in Bangladesh for "approximately seven years", after the factories with the machinery they needed to make their T-shirts all closed down.

But Kristine Crabb - the director and designer of local fashion brand Miss Crabb - said about 99 percent of her brand's production is carried out in Auckland.

She said she had a network of machinists who work from home, but a shortage of industrial knitters around the country meant that some work was done in Tauranga.

"We deal with everyone on a personal level, we can go and figure out and problems and be really face to face about deadlines, so it's awesome."

However, for the first time ever, the brand was doing a run of denim jeans and jackets in Australia - which Ms Crabb said they were being transparent about with their customers.

Claire Hart, the project manager of Tearfund's Ethical Fashion Guide, said unless a garment was made from wool, it was near impossible to make a garment from start to finish in this country.

"You can definitely get garments that are final stage manufacturing here. But - especially when it comes to cotton - we don't produce the fabric, so you can't do a farm-to-shop cotton production in New Zealand."

When Dame Denise L'Estrange Corbet was awarded her New Year's honour last year, she told RNZ that she was most proud of the fact that all of World's designs were still New Zealand-made.

She went on to say she wanted to re-brand the Made in New Zealand logo, to better promote goods made here.

The Commerce Commission said it had received five complaints about the tags.

It said it had taken a number of country-of-origin cases in recent years, but none of them have involved clothing.

Last year, a health supplement company and its owner were fined more than $500,000 for claiming bee pollen was New Zealand-made, when it was in fact sourced in China.

Almost a dozen companies have been prosecuted since 2011 for selling imported alpaca rugs as Made in New Zealand.

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