Misleading or not? WORLD founder L'Estrange-Corbet defends Made in NZ tags on garments made in China, saying the tags 'are made in NZ'

New Zealand fashion label World and its head Dame Denise L'Estrange-Corbet are under fire with accusations they have misled consumers about the origins of their clothing.

Ms L'Estrange-Corbet has been outspoken in the past about ethical standards at fashion companies, including slamming fellow designer Trelise Cooper for failing a Tearfund survey into ethical practices last month.

"I think it’s very sad that New Zealand designers, who are very proud about being New Zealand designers, do not support the industry and have all their clothes made in third world countries," Ms L'Estrange-Corbet told NewsHub.

"Trelise Cooper came out and said she was deeply serious about social responsibility. Well if she was, then she wouldn’t be manufacturing in a third world country."

She also criticised third-world manufacturing conditions to Apparel Magazine, saying "whilst some of the factories may pay above their countries [sic] legal minimum wage, anyone with a single brain cell can work out, that this is slave labour".

However, in a Spinoff investigation revealed today, clothing at the World store in Auckland was found to be carrying tags saying "Fabrique En Nouvelle-Zelande" - French for "Made in New Zealand" - tags while actually being made up of elements manufactured in Bangladesh and China.

Denise L'Estrange Corbet
Denise L'Estrange Corbet Source: 1 NEWS

In a response, Ms L'Estrange-Corbet confirmed that the shirts were made overseas, as were the sewn-on patches, but said putting "Made in New Zealand" tags on the clothing was not misleading, as the tags themselves were made in New Zealand.

"The WORLD clothing tags that say Made in NZ are Made in NZ, so there's nothing misleading about this," she said. "The t-shirts do not state this".

The clothing in question was supplied by AS Colour and made in Bangladesh - AS Colour received a C+ rating in the Tearfund survey.

An AS Colour spokesperson confirmed that World purchases clothing from them wholesale.

The sewn-on patch on the t-shirt was manufactured in China by TongLiang Boutique - they did not answer any questions about manufacturing conditions when approached by The Spinoff.

Ms L'Estrange-Corbet was made Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in January this year for "services to charity and fashion".

A screenshot of the Strawberry Heart t-shirt for sale on World's website, before the page was taken down.
A screenshot of the Strawberry Heart t-shirt for sale on World's website, before the page was taken down. Source: Google Cache

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