Gorman has been slammed online by furious customers after publishing what has been labelled a “tokenistic” and “laughable” Instagram post about a Chinese man who makes knitted designs for the Australian fashion label.
The post, which shows a man named Liao holding up a sign with the words “I made your clothes”, is the first in a series of photos designed to highlight the people who make Gorman clothes overseas.
“Hi, I’m Liao, a knitter at C.Partners factory in China,” the post reads.
“I have been working here for six years. I love Gorman’s knit designs, especially the colours.”
Here is the first of a series of photos of the people making Gorman clothes. Today we introduce Liao. #whomademyclothes. “Hi, I’m Liao, a knitter at C.Partners factory in China. I have been working here for 6 years. I love gormans knit designs, especially the colours.” We are particularly proud of the ethically sourced non-mulesed merino knits Liao and his team have produced for Gorman for the last 4 years. Thanks guys.!! #ethicallwool #merino #australianfashion #fash_rev
The post comes a week after a report by Baptist World Aid Australia found more than 60% of global fashion brands are not taking appropriate action to ensure workers in their supply chains are earning a living wage.
While Gorman was not named specifically in the report, its parent company Factory X was given an “F” for its approach to labour rights because it did not participate with the report’s researchers.
More than 1000 people have signed a Change.org petition, asking for Gorman to stop being “tight-lipped” about its manufacturing processes.
Social media users have been quick to dismiss Gorman’s “whomademyclothes” Instagram campaign as “tokenistic” and “laughable”.
So if I like Gorman’s stuff but am sick of their bs, what are some other similar brands that are actually ethical?
— Jessica Alice (@jessica_alice_) April 27, 2016
“Oh dear, Gorman, that’s not the response your customers wanted at all,” one person wrote.
“This tells us nothing about the factory itself, working conditions, or the pay that the workers there receive and whether it’s enough to be considered a living wage. That’s what your customers know. You need to do a much better job.”
Others were less forgiving.
“This is just embarrassing,” another person commented.
“Your misguided attempt at corporate transparency has completely missed the target. Laughable, even more so than the ridiculous price tag you place on your goods.”
Crisis communications expert Nicole Matejic told SmartCompany the Instagram post backfired because it comes across as “inauthentic”.
“They are clearly trying to reframe the issue but have delivered it in a very inauthentic way that comes across as simply exploitative,” Matejic says.
“It’s also a very poor attempt at communicating the brand’s back story – the copy reads like a constructed presser with quotes and all. No one talks like that naturally.”
SmartCompany contacted Gorman for comment but did not receive a response prior to publication.
However, a Gorman spokesperson told The Daily Mail customers have been “mislead” by the Baptist Aid Survey report.
“The F grading was a failure to reply, not a failure to comply,” the spokesperson said.
“As a business, we continue to address our social and ethical responsibility and take it very seriously.”