Universal Store, also known as Universal, is an Australian fashion retailer. The store was founded by Greg and Michael Josephson in 1999.
The brothers wished to see a retailer who would have a diverse range of clothes and decided to make it themselves.
Today 23 years later, the store offers everything from men’s and women’s clothing to shoes and home accessories under one roof.
The reason for the store’s success is its collaboration with private brands and incredible customer service.
While people love to buy from them, they wish to know whether Universal Store is fast-fashion or not.
Fast fashion brands have drastically changed the clothing industry. These brands make copies of trending celeb clothing and sell those copies at cheap rates.
But those cheap clothes are costing us something a lot more precious- our environment’s health.
So let’s find out whether Universal Store is fast-fashion or not.
Does Universal Store use Polyester as the primary clothing material?
No. The brand uses a wide variety of fabrics for its clothes.
It has banned the use of cotton obtained from farms in Uzbekistan and Xinjiang regions of China, as these areas have come under fire for violating human rights.
Does the Universal Store use toxic dyes in its clothes?
No. Universal Store has strict policies regarding the use of harmful dyes. The brand’s code of conduct has prohibited the use of azo dyes that are carcinogenic to humans and animals.
Does the Universal Store launch all the trendy garments and styles shortly after celebrities wear them?
Universal Store retails a wide range of brands that launch their products on the website. So we can say that there is a wide variety to choose from.
Does Universal Store have lower prices than pioneers of fashion trends?
Universal Store retails different brands that sell their products at different prices. Most of the jeans and dresses are over eighty dollars.
Does the Universal Store use sustainable packaging?
Yes. The brand uses sustainable or recycled packaging materials whenever possible. Universal Store has also partnered with Australian Packaging Covenant which keeps track of the brand’s packing material.
It also aims to make its distribution center activities waste-free by 2030.
Does Universal Store have factories in third-world countries?
Universal store does not own or operate any of the factories themselves. But all its suppliers are located in China and Cambodia- countries that are famous for the ill-treatment of laborers.
On its website, Universal Store has put up sustainable practices for all the private brands it retails.
To read about those brands, click here.
Since all of these brands are making better choices and producing sustainable clothing, it is safe to say that Universal Store is not fast fashion.
Is Universal Standard an ethical brand?
To figure out how ethical Universal Standard is, we researched and found the brand’s code of conduct for its suppliers.
The document states all the rules and regulations that Universal Standard expects its suppliers to follow.
The brand clearly says that all its suppliers and their supply chain must not employ children below the legal work age.
Universal Standard also expects all its suppliers to develop programs that would help trance any child working in the supply chain and make arrangements for him to get a proper education.
The Australian brand also expects all its suppliers to treat their employees fairly. This means no person can be forced to do work.
The employees can take a day or two off or even leave the job if they wish to.
The suppliers can not threaten or abuse them to stay. Similarly, they can not force their employees to work overtime.
The laborer can work for up to forty-eight hours every week, including voluntary overtime.
Universal Standard also asks its suppliers to provide fair wages to all their labor, regardless of age and gender.
The code of conduct also says that laborers must have adequate working conditions, and proper training must be given to ensure safe practices.
To ensure that all of the brand’s suppliers and their supply chains are operating according to these rules,
Universal Standard asks them to get third-party audits. This helps the brand keep check on whether the code of conduct is being followed properly or not.
Universal Standard also has policies regarding animal welfare. The brand urges its suppliers to be kind to animals under their care and comply with the law set by the government. Use of exotic animals’ skin, angora fur, and mohair is also prohibited.
As far as environmental well-being is concerned, Universal store states in its code of conduct that carcinogenic azo dyes must be avoided at all costs. The brand advises its supply chain to use sustainable resources and prevent water wastage.
All these policies make Universal stores sound like the most ethical brand, but The truth is something. In 2020, The Baptist World Aid Australia ranked Universal Store “D” in ethics.
The reason behind such a poor rating was that although the Universal standard has the perfect code of conduct, whether those rules are being followed or not is unclear. The brand does not reveal the pay rate of its laborer and owns no certificate to prove its ethical practices.
In conclusion, the brand has an ideal code of conduct but until it proves that all the rules are being followed, we can not call it an ethical brand. So, Universal Standard is not an ethical brand.
Where does Universal Store make its clothes?
Universal Store has come clear regarding the whereabouts of its factories. According to the list on their website, most of the brand’s clothes are manufactured in China. The factory with the highest number of employees is in Zhejiang, China.
Other than China, Universal Store has one textile factory in Cambodia. The brand claims that it does not own or administer any of these factories, meaning Universal Store gets its clothes made on contract from private manufacturers.
To check the list of all the textile plants producing Universal Store clothes, click here.