Child Labor Free certifier closes, major fashion labels say they weren't told

3:15 pm on 12 December 2019

An Auckland company providing child labour free certification has quietly closed, upsetting major fashion brands who say they weren't told.

AUCKLAND - MAR 27 2018:Child labor free mark. Products certified with the mark provides assurance that brands carrying it are ethically committed and ensuring their business is free of child labor

The Child Labor Free mark once meant products certified with were ethically committed and ensuring their business was free of child labour. Photo: 123RF

Child Labor Free launched to fanfare to 2015, signing on several companies to have their supply chains independently certified, and promising more were on the way.

It stopped offering accreditation mid-2018, according to co-founder Michelle Pratt.

But according to six fashion labels, including AS Colour, Kate Sylvester and Karen Walker, Child Labor Free never informed them it had closed down.

"We are disappointed they never communicated that to us," Shanne Pritchard, an ethical production developer at AS Colour, said.

After inquiries from RNZ - which identified nine companies advertising Child Labor Free certification - several brands including AS Colour and Karen Walker pulled references to Child Labor Free from their websites.

New Zealand clothing companies Bobux, Radicool Kids and Eagle Protect also said they were not informed by Child Labor Free.

It was unclear why the certifier closed down and Ms Pratt did not respond to further emailed questions. "All existing accreditation still stand," she said.

The aid development organisation Tearfund said Child Labor Free should have let its partners know.

"It definitely is concerning if there's an accreditation that gives customers an assurance that they're really looking after the people in the supply chain," Annie Hollister-Jones, a corporate advocacy specialist with Tearfund, said.

"That should be something that Child Labor Free take really seriously."