Monday, 29 September 2008

Ethical Brand Profile - Continental

Continental, alongside Starworld, are the names behind the two promotional clothing ranges who supply direct to Pier 32. Almost all the other brands that we have been reviewing in our Ethical Brand Profiles are supplied to us through an intermediary distributor. Starworld's ethical credentials have been the subject of many articles in this blog; Continental have featured too - but we have not yet completed a Brand Profile - so with no further ado.....

Continental go about presenting their products in a modern, polished manner. Instantly from the home page of their website there is a green environmental message coming across is all the branding. We have already featured in this blog their EarthPositive range featuring their Climate Neutral clothing collection, their role in campaigning against the exploitation of child labour in the cotton fields of Uzbekistan, the positive aspects of using organic cotton in conversion, and the eco-friendly luxury of the bamboo t-shirt.

This paints the background of a company with high eco-friendly standards. They are a private company and their UK based founders feature prominently in the various initiatives which they have followed. While their Climate Neutral clothing range directly using natural energy in its production, the rest of the company's activities are certified as Carbon Neutral by an independent monitor as a result of carbon offsetting.

Independent monitoring of their environmental claims is very evident with Oeko-Tex certification, their main line of organic t-shirts are certified organic by Skal and carry the organisation's EKO symbol and last but by no means least, their Earth Positive range is certified organic by the Soil Association.

What you get in terms of environmental impact very much depends on which brand line you go for. To concentrate on their mainstream range, "Continental Collection", and moving away from their Skal certified organic range that is part of that collection, what you get here is a t-shirt made from organic cotton in conversion. Follow the link for more information.

So there is the environment looking good. What about ethical, free trade issues? Here things are not quite so clear from the website. The supply chain of the EarthPositive range is stated to be Fair Wear foundation accredited. The same applies to the Eco Apparel range within the unbranded "Private Label" service. What about the rest? Our conclusion is that Continental have messed up their presentation

The Fair Wear Foundation website lists all its members and there you will find details of Continental. The message confirms our own long standing understanding that Continental products are manufactured in a factory in Turkey and that factory is monitored by the Fair Wear Foundation. With Continental's concern for the environment and their campaigning on child labour issue, it would have been most surprising to have discovered a chink in their ethical armour.

Know any different? Let us know!

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