Help End Child Labour: 22 Brands Committed to Child Labour Free Clothing

Help End Child Labour: 22 Brands Committed to Child Labour Free Clothing

Children no working in child labour

Child labour is, sadly and unknown to many, endemic in the fashion industry. Complex, interwoven supply chains make traceability a major challenge. We take a look at the issues involved and list 22 of our favourite child labour free clothing brands.

Table of Contents

Child Labour – A Persistent Problem

Child labour is one issue we looked at in our article Why Is Sustainable And Ethical Fashion Important? What Everyone Should Know? It also came up as the issue people were most interested to know more about in our survey Perspectives on Sustainable Fashion. Unfortunately, it remains a huge global problem.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that there are 160 million children involved in child labour as of their 2021 press release. Almost half of them (72.5 million) are involved in hazardous work.

The ILO defines child labour as “work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development”. It’s most likely to occur in the lower tiers of supply chains, in activities like raw material extraction and agriculture. 

This is partly what makes traceability so challenging and an issue that fashion brands against child labour have to address. 

Child Labour in the Fashion Industry

Child labour in the fashion industry, young girl
Photo by Nuno Alberto on Unsplash

A Race to the Bottom

The ‘fast fashion’ model has a detrimental effect on working conditions. It pushes companies to find ever-cheaper sources of labour.

Child labour is found at all stages of the supply chain. From cotton harvesting and yarn spinning mills to the cut-make-trim stage in garment factories. Children join the labour force to satisfy the demand for cheap, low-skilled labour. And without any form of social representation, they are easy to exploit. 

Poverty as a Driving Force

Child labour is more often found in situations where adult workers earn so little that they can’t meet their family’s basic needs. It’s yet another reason why the payment of a living wage is so important. 

Other factors contribute such as lack of access to education and poor enforcement of labour and education laws. See our article for more about brands that pay a living wage.

Complex Supply Chains

Fashion supply chains are often convoluted, relying on numerous suppliers, sub-suppliers and manufacturers. It’s generally easier for ethical clothing brands to monitor their “first-tier suppliers” (the factories that produce the finished garments).

Although this isn’t always the case, work can be subcontracted to other factories without brands even knowing about it. Further down the supply chain, in textile mills and cotton fields, child labour presents an even bigger challenge.

Key Steps in Eradicating Child Labour in the Fashion Industry

Happy children free from child labour
Photo by Loren Joseph on Unsplash

There are a number of steps that fashion brands committed to producing clothing free of child labour can take to help stamp out the practice for good. 

Full Transparency and Traceability

First and foremost, fashion brands against child labour need to be able to trace their whole supply chain. Not just the garment factories where the end product is made, but the entire chain, right back to material production.

There has been some improvement in the last couple of years. According to the Ethical Fashion Report 2021 the percentage of companies actively working to trace their raw material suppliers has increased from 48% in 2019 to 69% in 2021. This is a great step forward. 

Ensuring High Labour Standards

The eradication of child labour is closely linked to the promotion of other labour standards in the workplace. Important labour standards include the right to collective bargaining and the elimination of forced or compulsory labour. Payment of a living wage and health and safety at work is also crucial.

Collaborative Efforts and Stakeholder Engagement 

Due to the complexity of the issues involved, a collaborative approach is needed to eradicate child labour. Ethical clothing brands can work with trade unions, NGOs, governments and researchers.

Sometimes organisations come together to form multi-stakeholder initiatives (MSIs). The Ethical Trading Initiative and the Fair Wear Foundation are examples of MSIs in the garment industry.

How To Make Sure You’re Buying Child Labour Free Clothing

matthew-hamilton-girl in child labour free clothing
Photo by Matthew Hamilton on Unsplash

As conscious consumers, how can we make sure that we are buying from fashion brands that don’t use child labour? Well, we can hold companies accountable by checking for the following:

1. A Strong Supply Chain Policy

Often called a Code of Conduct, this should cover all of the ILO Four Fundamental Freedoms principles. This includes the elimination of forced or compulsory labour and the abolition of child labour.

2. Auditing and Reporting Systems

The company should have a transparent audit plan that applies to its whole supply chain and the results of audits should be publicly reported. 

3. Accreditation Schemes / Certifications

Third-party monitoring and verification provide reassurance that a company is doing what it says it’s doing! 

The major membership and accreditation schemes to look for include:

  • B Corp Certification
  • Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI) 
  • Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI)
  • Fair Wear Foundation (FWF)
  • Fairtrade Label Organisation (FLO)
  • Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS)
  • The SA8000 Standard 
  • Sedex
  • WRAP Certification

22 Child Labour Free Clothing Brands

If you’re still in any doubt about how to identify child labour free clothing and need some help, don’t worry! We’ve rounded up some of our favourite fashion brands that don’t use sweatshop labour. From ethical jeans to sustainable swimwear, you’ll find plenty of great brands for your socially conscious wardrobe.

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1. BatOko

Based: UK  Ships to: Worldwide
Made in: China
Range: Women’s swimwear

If you’re looking for swimwear brands that don’t use child labour, Batoko is a great choice. Their garments are made from 100% recycled plastic waste and come in a fabulous range of bold, bright prints.

They have two main suppliers. The first creates their recycled fabric and is Global Recycling Scheme (GRS) certified. This verifies the recycled contents in the fabric whilst also ensuring responsible social, environmental and chemical practices. The second supplier is the factory that manufactures the garments. Regular audits are in place at this factory to ensure that it is in full compliance with the BSCI Code Of Conduct. This includes a commitment to no child labour and the protection of young workers. 

2. Birdsong london

Based: UK  Ships to: Worldwide
Made in: London
Range: Women’s clothing and accessories

Birdsong London is a social enterprise specifically established to create fair employment for disadvantaged women. They work with women makers that face barriers to employment and pay them a London living wage.

Their clothing comes in bright colours, original prints and all of their cotton is certified organic. The antithesis of fast fashion, Birdsong is a great choice for ethically made clothing that makes a statement.

3. Brothers We Stand

Based: UK  Ships to: Worldwide
Made in: Bangladesh and Worldwide
Range: Men’s Clothing

Brothers We Stand brings together a fantastic collection of ethical and stylish men’s clothing brands.

They’ve developed a 6 point standard which they use when selecting brands. This includes a commitment to only work with brands that can ensure no child labour is being used. They also require brands to provide them with a full breakdown of their supply chains.

Their own line of organic T-shirts is ethically made in Bangladesh. Their factories have been independently audited by both the Fair Wear Foundation and GOTS.

Brothers We Stand is a perfect choice if you’re looking for honest and ethically produced clothing for men. 

4. Finisterre

Based: UK  Ships to: Worldwide
Made in: Asia, Europe, UK
Range: Men’s and women’s outdoor clothing and activewear

Finisterre is a sustainable outdoor brand, built to inspire a love of the sea. As a certified B Corp, it is verified to meet high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability. It has a good supply chain policy and a commitment to audit all of its direct suppliers.

We love that they provide detailed information about all of their factories on their website.

5. Frugi

Based: UK  Ships to: Worldwide
Made in: India, Sri Lanka, Turkey, China and Portugal.
Range: Children’s and women’s clothing, accessories and gifts

Frugi’s children’s clothes are made from super soft organic cotton. They feature bright colours and cute prints.

The company was founded on the basis of being as ethically and environmentally responsible as possible. Their GOTS certification means they adhere to strict criteria for both their manufacturing and social accountability. Frugi visits their factories regularly and also has a team based in India to ensure standards are being met.

All in all, they’re a great choice for clothing your little ones!

6. Girlfriend Collective

Based: US  Ships to: Worldwide
Made in: Taiwan, Vietnam
Range: Women’s activewear, accessories and underwear

Girlfriend Collective is one of our favourite ethical clothing brands. It offers inclusive, sustainable, and affordable activewear. Its factory is certified by Social Accountability International – SA8000. This guarantees safe working conditions, no forced or child labour and the right to unionise. They ensure all workers are paid a fair wage, provide a free lunch and free health checkups alongside health insurance.

Alongside these social credentials, Girlfriend Collective has some great environmental credentials too. They use a high percentage of recycled plastics and their clothing is designed to be recycled. Great work!

7. H&M

Based: Sweden  Ships to: Worldwide
Made in: Worldwide
Range: Women’s, men’s and children’s clothing

H&M is one of the most transparent clothing giants. It scores an impressive 61-70% on the Fashion Transparency Index, (one of the top seven scores).

It publishes detailed information about its supplier policies, audit, and remediation processes. You can read their Sustainability Performance Report 2020 online. They were awarded a respectable 39 points by Remake, the second-highest scoring big company in their brand directory. Plus they received a Grade A in the 2021 Ethical Fashion Report. Keep it up H&M!

8. Know The Origin

Based: UK   Ships to: Worldwide
Made in: India
Range: Men’s and women’s clothing, sustainable homeware, beauty and skincare

Know the Origin specialises in supply chain transparency (the clue is in the name!). They can trace their products back to their origin and provide information about every step of their supply chain.

All of their products are organic and many are also Fairtrade. Both these certifications provide protections for workers’ rights. They regularly visit their producers and conduct their own audits as well as using NGO audits.

They also sell clothing and accessories from a great selection of other brands that share their business ethics.

9. Kuyichi

Based: Netherlands   Ships to: Worldwide
Made in: Turkey, Pakistan, Portugal & China
Range: Women’s and Men’s jeans and other clothing 

Kuyichi has been making sustainable denim and wardrobe essentials since 2001.

Their Code of Conduct prohibits the use of child labour. It applies to all parts of the company’s production chain, its suppliers and their subcontractors. Their full chain is GOTS certified and most suppliers are certified under other standards too, such as SA8000. The results of these audits are published in their Social Report 2020.

Kuyichi is also a member of the Fair Wear Foundation. For more info on the environmental impact of denim, have a read of our article Is Denim Sustainable?

10. Lucy & Yak

Based: UK    Ships to: Worldwide
Made in: India
Range: Women’s clothing and accessories

Lucy and Yak is a great option for affordable, ethical clothing free from child labour. Famous for their colourful and playful dungarees, their clothing is designed in Britain and ethically made in India. All bar one of their factories are GOTS approved. The majority of their suppliers also have 3rd party audits from external consultants such as BSCI, WRAP or SEDEX. 

11. Marks & Spencer

Based: UK  Ships to: Worldwide
Made in: Worldwide
Range: Women’s, men’s and children’s clothing plus home, furniture, beauty, food, wine and gifts

Marks and Spencer is one of the brands leading a move towards higher ethical standards on the high street.

It has a zero-tolerance approach to child labour. Its policy states that “a supplier must not employ a person under the age of 15 in any circumstances”. And that they “must implement robust age verification checks at all times to ensure this policy is upheld”.

M&S also have a responsible cotton sourcing policy and are a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative. 

12. MUD Jeans

Based: Netherlands    Ships to: Worldwide
Made in: Tunisia
Range: Men and women’s jeans, denim skirts, jackets and shirts

MUD Jeans is a sustainable denim brand that only uses GOTS certified organic cotton or recycled materials. Their code of conduct covers all of the ILO Four Fundamental Freedoms principles and is reinforced by third-party audits.

One of their suppliers – Yousstex International – has gone an extra mile for young people. They set up a free school in their factory for employees aged 16-20 years. Young employees are given the opportunity to work 16-hour weeks and spend the rest of their time taking accredited classes.

MUD jeans is one of the highest-ranking brands in the Remake directory with a score of 55.

13. Ninety Percent

Based: London   Ships to: Worldwide
Made in: Bangladesh
Range: Women’s clothing

Ninety Percent are a London-based sustainable womenswear label that shares 90% of their profits.

Their supply chain policy requires suppliers to eliminate all child labour and defines the age of a child as “15 or under the age for completion of compulsory education, whichever is higher.” Their garments are made in two industry-leading factories in Bangladesh that put the well-being of employees first.

Ninety Percent is another great option in the fight against child labour. 

14. Nomad’s Clothing

Based: UK  Ships to: Worldwide
Made in: India
Range: Women’s and men’s clothing

Nomad’s Clothing has been creating affordable, ethical clothing for over 30 years. They require complete transparency in their production processes and ask all suppliers to sign up to their Code of Conduct. All except the very smallest of their suppliers have SEDEX certification and some are also GOTS certified. They visit their suppliers in India twice a year to ensure standards are being met.

With some gorgeous, timeless prints, we’re sure you’ll find some ethical wardrobe staples from this great clothing brand. 

15. Organic Basics

Based: Denmark  Ships to: Worldwide
Made in: Portugal, Austria, Scotland, Italy, Turkey
Range: Women and men’s clothing

Organic Basics offers a great range of ethically made underwear, activewear and everyday essentials.

Detailed information about their suppliers is clearly accessible on their website including their certifications and auditing bodies. They only work with trusted, certified suppliers who can ensure that the workplace is free of child labour and forced labour. They pay a living wage, offer free lunches and free childcare.

Organic Basics are also a certified B Corp. Alongside their GOTS certification, this makes them an excellent choice for your ethical essentials. 

16. Patagonia

Based: US Ships to: Worldwide
Made in: Worldwide
Range: Outdoor clothing for men, women and kids plus packs and gear

Outdoor brand Patagonia has been making sustainable clothing and gear since 1993. If you’re looking for a new waterproof jacket or fleece they’re a great child labour free clothing brand to consider.

Patagonia is a founding member of the Fair Labour Association. They publish detailed information about suppliers and received a score of 51-60% in the Fashion Transparency Index. The brand also received a Grade A in the 2021 Ethical Fashion Report

17. Pact

Based: US  Ships to: Worldwide
Made in: India
Range: Women’s, men’s and children’s clothing, organic bedding and towels

Pact offers super soft organic basics that have been ethically made. They use GOTS certified cotton and all of their clothing is sweatshop free and child labour free.

In addition to their GOTS partnership, the factories they work with are Fair Trade Certified™. This ensures safe working conditions, helps empower local communities and protects the environment.

Pact is the perfect choice if you’re looking for ethical and stylish athleisure wear. 

We have negotiated an exclusive 15% discount for Good Maker Tales readers with code GOODMAKERTALES15.

See our post for more sustainable brand discounts.

18. People Tree

Based: UK  Ships to: Worldwide
Made in: Turkey, Portugal, Italy, Nepal, Kenya, India, Bangladesh
Range: Women’s, men’s and children’s clothing

No list of fashion brands that don’t use child labour would be complete without fairtrade fashion pioneer People Tree. They’ve been producing fairtrade, ethical clothing since 1991.

People Tree is a Guaranteed Status member of The World Fair Trade Organisation, a global community of like-minded Fair Trade Enterprises. The WFTO certification verifies People Tree’s commitment to Fair Trade through peer reviews and trusted independent audits. This includes ensuring that there is no forced or child labour, no discrimination and freedom of association. In addition to WFTO, some of its supply chain is Fairtrade Foundation certified or has SA8000.

19. Rapanui

Based: UK Ships to: Worldwide
Made in: India and UK
Range: Men and women’s clothing

Pioneering circular fashion brand Rapanui makes products from natural materials and uses renewable energy throughout its supply chain. Everything they make is designed to be sent back when it has worn out.

As part of their GOTS certification, their supply chain is audited to ensure safe, positive and fair working conditions. Their supply chain is also SA8000 certified. And just in case that’s not enough, their T-shirts are printed to order in the UK which ensures there’s no waste from overstocked designs and sizes. Good work Rapanui! 

20. Seasalt

Based: Cornwall, UK   Ships to: Worldwide
Made in: India, Turkey, China, Vietnam, Spain, Portugal and Bulgaria.
Range: Women’s clothing, footwear, and accessories (plus smaller men’s collection)

Seasalt makes beautiful clothing, with gorgeous prints and colours inspired by Cornwall’s wild landscapes. From their family roots, they have grown to be one of Cornwall’s largest employers with over 60 Seasalt shops around the UK and Ireland.

Seasalt is a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI). Their supply chain policy embraces the ETI Base Code and includes clauses prohibiting child and forced labour. They aim for their cotton to be 100% GOTS certified by the end of 2024.

21. Toastie Kids

Based: UK  Ships to: Worldwide
Made in: China
Range: Children’s outerwear, accessories and books. 

Toastie is a female-founded, high-end British eco childrenswear brand specialising in outdoor products. Their clothes are ethically made and their Code of Conduct and Modern Slavery Statement can be found on their website.

Their suppliers have completed the Sedex Ethical Members audit. This means they have been approved for their ethical working values related to their supply chain, social and environmental performance.

They’re a perfect choice if you’re looking for ethical outdoor gear for your little ones. For more recommendations of sustainable childrenswear brands have a look at our article here.

22. Thought

Based: UK  Ships to: Worldwide
Made in: China, India, and Turkey
Range: Women’s and men’s clothing, footwear and accessories

Wrapping up our list of fashion brands against child labour is Thought. Thought makes beautifully simple, timeless clothing from natural and sustainable fibres including hemp, bamboo and organic cotton.

It has a Code of Conduct that covers all of the ILO Four Fundamental Freedoms principles and it visits its factories regularly. It is also a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative.

An Ethical Future

With the number of ethical clothing brands on the rise, it’s becoming easier to source child labour free clothing. 

The ILO’s goal is to eliminate all child labour by 2025. Can it be done? There’s certainly still a lot of work to do. Due to the complex issues involved, child labour requires a collaborative approach. Each actor in the fashion industry – including suppliers, garment workers, fashion brands, governments and consumers – has a role to play. 

As conscious fashion lovers, we can help by continuing to hold brands accountable. We can insist on real transparency and being able to view the results of independent 3rd party audits. We can raise awareness about the complex supply chain issues involved. And of course, we can continue to spread the word about all of the fantastic socially conscious brands we love to support. 

Do you have a favourite ethical clothing brand? Drop us a comment below and let us know all about them!

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