Copyright for all images belongs to Knixwear, 2018
by Naomi Boshari
The other day, my friend and I were having a coffee and chatting about new underwear brands that were worth investing in. I asked my friend if she had heard of Knixwear, an underwear brand that’s “reinventing intimates for real life.” Before I even had the chance to finish my sentence, she was pulling down her shirt and showing me a thick, grey bra strap.
“It’s my favourite bra,” she said. “No wire, super comfortable. You have to get one.”
Part of me wanted to go online and buy it right away. But part of me knew I couldn’t do it without knowing whether it was ethically sourced, no matter how comfortable it may be.
Part 1: The Quest Begins
On their website, Knixwear does a great job of representing a diversity of women and bodies. That’s part of their image: underwear for “all of us.” However, it was difficult to find any information on their production values. Knixwear is known for their “innovative” fabrics that are patented, and are invisible under tight clothes.
Part 2: Customer Service Satisfaction
I reached out to their customer service team to try and get some answers. These were the questions I wanted to address:
- Where does your fabric come from? Is it organic?
- Where is it spun?
- Where is it dyed?
- Where is it sewn?
- What certifications do you have for worker safety?
It was a long list, but I wanted to make sure I covered it all. This was their response:
This was a great answer right off the bat that addressed most of my questions in one. However, as they didn't mention any organic certifications (like GOTS), I think it's safe to assume that Knix is not made from certified organic fibers. It's hard to know for sure because they don't disclose their product blend online, as it is a special fabric patent. I'll dive into what this response from Tomi really means in Part 4, below.
Part 3: FAQ Page
After I heard back from customer service, I wanted to go back to their website to double check whether I could find the same information there. On their FAQ page, I managed to find one question ‘Where is Knixwear made?’. But when I checked on May 16th, I noticed the response had been updated just seven days ago. (I had emailed customer service initially on May 9th).
Whether it was actually added before or after I reached out to their customer service team, or whether they just made an update to the response, it’s hard to say. Either way, the information aligned with what their customer service team had gotten back to me with.
Part 4: What does all this mean?
The first certification they mention is WRAP (Worldwide accredited production), which is an “independent, objective, non-profit team of global social compliance experts dedicated to promoting safe, lawful, humane and ethical manufacturing around the world through certification and education”. The certification is based on WRAP’s 12 Principles, which encompass human resource management, health and safety, environmental practices, and legal compliance (import/export, customs compliance, security standards). It also draws on conventions from the International Labor Organization (ILO).
Copyright Knixwear, 2018.
The second certification that Knixwear mentions is the SA 8000 (Social Accountability International). This is one the most globally accepted independent workplace standards. It addresses issues of “forced and child labor, occupational health and safety, freedom of association and collective bargaining, discrimination, disciplinary practices, working hours, compensation, and management systems.” It also contains already existing international agreement conventions from the ILO, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The third, Oeko-tex, ensures that textiles are free of harmful amounts of chemicals. All Oeko-tex products follow legal standards that ban Azo colourants, formaldehyde, cadmium, nickel, and a whole host of other substances that you probably never knew were involved in garment-making.
Knixwear would fall under Oeko-tex Product class II, “articles worn close to the skin (underwear, bed linen, t-shirts, socks, etc),” which has stricter requirements for certification.
Part 5: Would I Make a Purchase?
To recap my original investigation, I wanted to know:
- Where Knixwear products are made?
- What certifications do they have to ensure ethical product standards?
- What certifications do they have to ensure worker safety?
What I found was:
- Knixwear products are designed in Canada and manufactured just outside of Shanghai in China, and in Seoul, South Korea.
- The internationally recognized Oeko-tex certification ensures Knixwear complies with strict standards and criteria.
- Both WRAP and SA 8000 both ensure worker safety and factory working conditions through certification, education, and audit.
I feel satisfied with Knixwear’s response and the fact that they are certified in ways that comply with both production and worker safety standards. I’ll definitely be looking to purchase my first Knixwear bra soon.
Let’s keep asking #whomademyclothes and encourage brands to be more transparent with how and where their products are made.
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