Fashion is identified as one of the world’s most highly polluting industries.
And we understand that you are rightly asking for more visibility. “Who made my clothes?” and “How were my clothes made?” are questions that reflect the global industry’s need to step up and demystify much of fashion’s increasingly decentralised and complex path to market.
These questions encourage fashion businesses like RUBY to understand the social and environmental impact of our business practices and products. And as responsible people who design clothes, we intend to be part of the solution, not the problem.
At RUBY, we want to do fashion better and be open with you about what we’ve achieved so far. There is no magic fix but there are steps, some simple and others less so, that we are taking. Sustainability is not straightforward, and comes with a distinct set of challenges, but we believe it’s all worth it for a world beyond next season.
Our team is passionate about seeing the issue of sustainability through a holistic lens. This means that you, our customer, along with our team, other businesses and the wider community are on this journey with us. We can push forward together, make change together and have fun with our style and clothing choices along the way.
Explore RUBY’s Toolbox for Change. Here you’ll find details on what our business is currently doing to transition towards a more sustainable reality as well as our goals for the future. Let’s do this!
We are constantly reviewing our production processes, from the fibres and materials we use, to where we produce & who we work with.
RUBY is excited to be a founding partner of New Zealand industry collective, Mindful Fashion New Zealand. The collective was dreamt up in October 2018 and launched in March 2019 to create real change in local and international supply chain traceability through the power of the group.
MFNZ is an open invitation to New Zealand designers to join together and work collaboratively to ensure socially ethical and environmentally responsible clothing production.
Brands that carry out a portion of their manufacturing in New Zealand face a unique set of challenges to uphold ethical standards in a small-scale context. We hope the new collective will strengthen the local fashion industry and lead to positive change. For us, sustainability is a prerequisite for ongoing business success.
- Build the foundations for success - create a Mindful Fashion Code of Conduct that all members must agree to and sign before asking their makers and suppliers to adhere to the Code of Conduct
- Share the costs of auditing New Zealand clothing factories across the group and provide discounts for offshore auditing as a collective
- Promote the benefits of transparency and collaboration (Knowledge sharing on best practice is a win-win for everyone)
- Provide industry training workshops on clothing that’s sustainable from both an ethical and environmental perspective
- Use group bargaining power to access and order sustainable fabrics
- Empower design teams to make smarter choices
We’re committed to building a more responsible production cycle, which includes the materials we use in seasonal collections. This can sometimes be a challenge due to the fact that we often source stock fabric from local supply agents, making traceability tricky.
Our design team now use Global Recycle Standard-certified recycled polyester in an effort to divert more plastic bottles from landfill. Triacetate & Acetate, two of our favourite fabrics (and yours!) to use in collections, have now both been 100% traced back to a responsible source, and in light of this RUBY has ordered 4309 meters of these fabrics for use in collections between January - August 2019. The fabric was used to make pieces like our Firebird Pant, Weirder Slip and Nirvana Skirt.
Locally, fabric offcuts are donated to schools & companies that produce boxing bags or reused for sampling purposes. We also do not permit the use of angora fur in any circumstance, due to the cruel way that it’s obtained from the angora rabbit. Read more here.
It’s RUBY’s responsibility to know that everyone who works on a RUBY product, does so in a safe, fair and non-discriminatory workplace. We provide this for our employees and we also require this of our suppliers.
Our business plays an important role in ensuring the men and women who work on our garments are treated fairly and carry out their role in respectful working conditions. RUBY employees must ensure that all new suppliers sign our Code of Conduct that covers the following:
- Child labour shall not be used. RUBY does not accept the economic exploitation of children
- Employment is freely chosen and not forced
- No discrimination is practiced
- No harsh or inhumane treatment is allowed
- Working conditions are safe & hygienic
- Working hours are not excessive
- Wages are paid on time & in full
- Regular employment is provided
RUBY will not tolerate abuse of human rights anywhere in our business or supply chain. Fashion should be fair for everyone! This code of conduct goes beyond garment production, and includes all other suppliers from rubbish collection and maintenance to clear-cutting photography and tradespeople.
Currently, 60% of all RUBY’s CMT (Cut-Make-Trim) work is completed in Auckland, New Zealand. The remaining 40% is completed in China.
While we love and will continue to support local makers, producing on home turf comes with a unique set of challenges. One is the degree of difficulty in auditing small, local makers. Auditing locally is important if RUBY wishes to participate and improve our grade with Tearfund’s Ethical Fashion Report each year.
This is where our partnership with Mindful Fashion New Zealand steps in. Together with other local fashion brands, we will begin to audit domestic factories as a group, reducing costs and sharing knowledge to help the industry evolve.
Our Chinese factories are audited by internationally accredited auditors such as Qualspec every year. If an audit reveals areas to improve, a follow up is carried out 3-6 months later to ensure the necessary change is taking place.
Details of the factories that we work with are as follows:
|Years worked together||5||5||8||5||10||10||10||10||2||7||2||2||10||10||10|
|Number of staff||646||22||47||191||2||3||11||10||8||5||18||6||2||16||3|
|% of women||70%||59%||64%||86%||50%||33%||73%||90%||88%||60%||83%||50%||0%||94%||67%|
|Youngest team member||16||22||29||20||65||45||35||40||32||40||35||45||45||35||31|
Our design process is completed in house at our RUBY head office in Auckland, where we employ a patternmaker and sample machinist. This allows for flexibility and the ability to produce all collection samples on home turf.
With a talented in-house workroom team we can also offer customers made-to-order services like RUBY Celebrations.
RUBY is always looking for ways to improve or repurpose packaging to cut down on waste, especially single use plastics.
Suppliers must send garments in one master bag containing 10-20 clothing items (excluding coats & knitwear), instead of individual plastic bags, which is currently industry norm. The master bag and individual poly bags are then reused for trims at head office or sent to soft plastic recycling. RUBY stores also reuse any plastic garment bags over a long period of time until they have been ripped or torn then these get sent to soft plastic recycling at the end of their life.
How our fabrics and clothes arrive in New Zealand is important to us. We’re making steps to prioritise sea freight over air, as a more sustainable transport option. Currently, RUBY sea freights 40% of the time, however our goal is to achieve a 70% sea freight rate.
Our teams’ swing tags from their RUBY and Liam purchases are collected so that we can divert the tags from landfill and reuse for future collections. We put the saved money (a new swing tag costs roughly 50 cents) towards fun activities or meals for our employees throughout the year. Over 1000 swing tags were collected in 2018.
RUBY garment labels are made from GOTS 5.0 certified-organic cotton, and Liam’s garment labels are made using cast-off polyester. The polyester is shred, melted and spun into new recycled threads. This process prevents useful material resources being wasted, and reduces energy usage in making a new product from scratch.
When you purchase something from RUBY, the paper bag your clothes or accessories are packaged in is made from sustainable fibres and post-consumer waste. Please do your bit to help reduce waste and reuse the bag as much as possible before recycling it responsibly.
Broken plastic hangers are posted back to the manufacturer Sistema, who grind the hangers down and make them into new products.
We’re proud to have a growing number of initiatives for customers to make the most of when they shop from RUBY, from waste initiatives to encouraging accessibility for all. Please spread the word, and encourage your friends and family to buy better, love clothes for longer and upcycle where possible.
All Is For All
All is For All is a new shopping website which acknowledges the challenges people with disabilities can face when purchasing clothes online. Founder Grace Stratton, a law student, fashion lover and lifelong wheelchair user, launched the e-commerce platform when she felt like the world of online shopping was not set up for people like her who have access needs.
“I need to see what a dress looks like on a model who is sitting down, not standing up. I also need to know about every zip, button and closure, so that I can determine if a garment is one I can dress myself in. Friends with vision issues often struggle with read-aloud text on websites; if it’s present at all, it will be clunky and basic and not particularly descriptive. These are just some of the issues that people with access needs struggle with. Accessibility is not just a physical thing – it’s about everyone having the same access to the same experience, and that includes online shopping.” - Grace Stratton
The platform helps to paint the full picture about fashion garments, so you can fall in love with clothes that function for you.
All Is For All believes in fashion without barriers and hopes to be an inclusive online shopping experience that simply provides the missing details. RUBY is proud to be a founding partner of this new movement.
RUBY x Rethink
We’ve collaborated with New Zealand business Rethink on a line of certified-organic market bags for all RUBY customers who spend over $150 in store or online.
These beauties are deceptively spacious and functional, perfect for holding all your bits and pieces. We love using them for our weekend produce market visits, brunch dates and well, anything really. Plus, $2 is donated to Women’s Refuge if you bring your bag back in to reuse.
Rethink’s founder Lisa Cohen-Smith hopes the bags will encourage other businesses to reconsider their packaging - “We are immensely proud to be working together with RUBY. As passionate environmentalists this collaboration further highlights our message that we should all rethink the choices we make the impact these have on planet earth.”
RUBY x Compostic
With the help our of our friends from Compostic, we now send out compostable courier bags for all online orders. Just like a banana peel, our mailer will break down into a soil enhancer within a matter of months when composted (even at home!). We celebrated with a material breakdown test in the worm farm compost bin at Kelmarna Gardens, our favourite community space.
RUBY offers custom sizing in all in stock styles for both RUBY and Liam, should you be after a size which is outside the sizes we currently produce.
You will only pay the standard retail price, and there are no extra fees for this service. We can make a completely new size in a style you love, or are happy to alter something off the rack to accommodate different access needs.
Everyone should be able to wear the clothes they love. Womanhood is brilliantly diverse and our clothing options should reflect this! Please ask in store about this service or email us at email@example.com.
Since October 2017, RUBY has partnered with one-stop rental destination Designer Wardrobe. By using a great rental service, you can have an endlessly new wardrobe and keep clothing budgets to a minimum, all while embracing circularity and diverting clothing from landfill.
Favourite RUBY styles are always available for short term rental. After your event, pop the item in a Designer Wardrobe return bag and send it back. It’s that easy.
On a business front, Designer Wardrobe allows us the opportunity to extend the life cycle of a RUBY garment, reducing waste, water and carbon footprints. One small step towards a culture where we use products, rather than own them.
Throughout the year we host repair events at our Newmarket store in Auckland, and promote them via social media. Bring in your RUBY clothes (from any season, no matter how old), and our in-house machinist will be ready to mend and/or hem your favourite pieces while you shop.
In the Community
As a New Zealand owned and operated business, we work and play in a wider community, and love to support charitable projects where we can. Here are some of the projects RUBY is proud to be a part of:
Breast Cancer Cure
RUBY is a long-time partner of Breast Cancer Cure. We support their fashion shows by lending 100 hours of our time per year to help out.
As a business, it’s important that we are available in the community to help out wherever we can have an impact. If there’s a fundraiser or project you’d like to chat to us about, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
All proceeds from Christmas gift wrapping in store are donated to Women’s Refuge, and staff also collect gifts for those in need. Between January 2018 and January 2019, $5493 was donated to this incredible New Zealand charity.
Paid Community Days
It’s a pretty great feeling when you can have a positive impact all on your own. So, we offer one paid day off per quarter for every full-time head office staff member.
Team work makes the dream work, right? Our employees are ambitious forward-thinkers, so we like to support them in being the best they can be. Here’s how we do it:
Have you ever worked exclusively in one department at work yet longed to gain more experience in another, without having to jump ship completely? 2018 marked the launch of our RUBY Academy, an in-house training programme that offers employees the chance to diversify their knowledge by completing training modules across different departments in two structured semesters per year.
Staff who apply must already work a minimum of 30 hours a week, and have worked for a minimum of one year.
Financial Literacy Training
Our HQ team is treated (yes, we just said that) to quarterly financial literacy workshops and seminars. The benefits are twofold: our staff better understand RUBY’s movements while they develop an understanding of important financial concepts that are essential for success in life, regardless if you own a business, or not.
Twice a year, RUBY managers are invited to listen to guest speakers who come to head office to tell their story and inspire the team.
Head Office Retreat
Taking time to evaluate our goals outside of everyday office life is important. Once a year we skip town and get away from it all with the head office team.
Head office team members can downward dog their way into the day one morning each week. This practice has become super popular and sets us up in all the best ways.
Paid Retail Internships
It can be tricky to gain paid experience in the workforce when you’re fresh out of, or still in high school. RUBY offers school age young adults paid retail internships of 12-15 hours over two weeks. Offered four times per year over school holiday periods, and no real work experience is necessary, our store managers will be there to help.
Employment Diversity Policy
We work hard to create a space where our team feels safe and empowered to connect and do great work. Differences in race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical abilities and religious beliefs are welcomed and accepted on the basis that every individual is unique and powerful in their own right.
It’s important that RUBY remains a positive environment for every employee - we actively work to ensure that staff are protected against discrimination of any kind. When our team feels safe, accepted and therefore able to do their best work, RUBY is better off for it.
To manage our daily environmental impact, RUBY continues to adopt lots of small policies in and around the office. The list is ever growing. If you have a suggestion, please let us know!
RUBY HQs food scraps are collected weekly by We Compost and we're chuffed to say we've sent 960kgs of scraps for composting between October 2018 - June 2019. Instead of ending up in the bin as unnecessary waste, scraps find higher value and become nutritious compost to be used in community and school gardens across Auckland.
All soft plastics are reused both at head office and in our stores. Anything that can’t be reused must be recycled.
It’s no secret that the average business uses a lot of stuff. We do however try to keep our footprint to a minimum, and are always looking to improve. Ecostore products are ordered in bulk size for cleaning, office coffee is delivered from our friends down the road at Coffee Supreme, and we use Lewis Road organic milk. Toilet paper and hand towels are made from recycled materials.
The Future is Bright
We believe tomorrow’s successful businesses will be those that operate to the highest social and environmental standards. Step forward in time to take a look at what RUBY’s goals are from now until 2025.
RUBY Recycle launches in partnership with Designer Wardrobe.
According to Global Fashion Agenda, 73% of all clothing worldwide ends up in landfill, and less than 15% of clothes are recycled. And we now know that extending a garment’s life by just three months can lower its water, carbon and waste footprint by 5-10%. RUBY Recycle is a great start in ensuring that your clothes are re-loved, reused and avoid landfill at all costs.
10% of all fabric used in each season must be made from sustainable fibres including organic cotton, linen and hemp; recycled cotton, polyester and nylon; specialty materials like Lenzing TENCEL and monocel.
Publish RUBY Garment Care Guide. Clothes that are washed correctly and well cared for last longer and reduce the landfill load.
Achieve goal of tracing all silk fabric back to source to ensure sustainable and ethical production is taking place from silkworm to final product.
Achieve goal of ensuring that 5% of all buttons used in RUBY collections are made from recycled plastic or natural materials.
Design team starts research project into vegan leather alternatives.
10% of all marketing collateral is printed using water or soy-based ink.
Remove all single use plastic that arrives at RUBY via the Chinese supply chain and replace with compostable option.
RUBY Repair service switches from an occasional service to always on.
Hatch a plan for offcuts for external CMT (Cut-Make-Trim) work in RUBY’s China-based factories.
Work further towards supply chain visibility by ensuring that 30% of RUBY & Liam collections are tracked back to source. We are currently at 20%.
Head office runs first employee seminar on the role of innovative design in the circularity process.
Begin hosting apprenticeships for pattern makers and construction skills.
Work with our partner factories so that they provide better access to training for their staff. Employees should have the opportunity to upskill and then increase their wage.
Launch research project into the use of fabric dyes to minimise environmental impact.
Build on the 2020 goal of 30% traceability. By 2021, 40% of RUBY and Liam collections will be traced back to source.
The Living Wage
Because we do not own garment and textile factories, and instead work with outside suppliers, RUBY’s ability to influence wages as an independent business has traditionally been limited.
With the launch of Mindful Fashion NZ, we hope to change the status quo by 2022, and work together as an industry (hello group bargaining power) to see sustainable increases in wages across our supply chain.
RUBY is committed to growing the wages of people who work in factories that are connected to our business. To do this, we are following the Global Living Wage Coalition for guidance on what a Living Wage looks like in the countries where we sew our fabrics (New Zealand and China) and where we source our fabrics (China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam).
An individual who is paid a fair, living wage creates a ripple effect. And it flows out beyond the job itself. A living wage brings stability to families, and from there the benefits flow out into communities. Often, the desire to upskill and further educate oneself becomes a new focus, as the pressure of making ends meet no longer applies.
What is the Living Wage?
According to Living Wage Aotearoa New Zealand, the Living Wage is: The hourly wage a worker needs to pay for the necessities of workers and their families such as food, transportation, housing and childcare.
At RUBY we are already committed to making sure that the people who make our clothes, fabrics and source the raw materials are - at a minimum - paid the minimum wage in the country they live and work in. However as part of our commitment to more ethical and sustainable production practices, we intend to see their wages grow to meet the Living Wage level by the end of 2022.
In 2018, RUBY carried out research to calculate the Living Wage level in both the countries our clothes are sewed in (New Zealand and China) and source our fabrics (China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam).
To see New Zealand’s Living Wage calculations and information, take a look at Living Wage Aotearoa New Zealand.
Living Wage information for China, Japan and Korea can be found at Global Living Wage Coalition.
RUBY is committed to being carbon neutral by the end of 2025. We will measure and then offset 100% of the CO2 emissions that are produced in the making of textiles and clothing, as well as across retail stores, head office and support operations. The first step? Accurately measure current emissions, and get a picture of what needs to change before 2025. We will break this down into key activities carried out over 12-month stages. Watch this space for how we are progressing, and remember to hold us accountable!
Our door is always open. If you have any questions about RUBY’s sustainability strategy and goals for the future, or would like to talk further on the topic, please get in touch with our General Manager Emily Miller-Sharma. Email: email@example.com