Iconic Australian surf brand Rip Curl has been accused of selling merchandise produced in North Korea under 'slave labour'-like sweat shop conditions, in a report published earlier today by Fairfax.

The clothes in question came from Rip Curl's winter 2015 line, including ski jackets, and were shipped to stores bearing a 'Made In China' label, concealing their true place of origin.

These particular allegations stem from photos supplied by an Australian businessman, who covertly snapped them while on a tour of the Taedonggang Clothing Factory, outside of capital the capital Pyongyang.

Employees in North Korean garment factories have told human rights groups that they routinely work long hours for little or no pay, and fear being sent to labour camps if they disobey orders.

Rip Curl CFO Tony Roberts was approached by Fairfax to comment on the allegations, and passed the buck down the supply chain, saying:

"We were aware of this issue, which related to our Winter 2015 Mountain-wear range, but only became aware of it after the production was complete and had been shipped to our retail customers. 

This was a case of a supplier diverting part of their production order to an unauthorised subcontractor, with the production done from an unauthorised factory, in an unauthorised country, without our knowledge or consent, in clear breach of our supplier terms and policies. 

We do not approve or authorise any production of Rip Curl products out of North Korea."

Oxfam has criticised Rip Curl for being ignorant about its suppliers' business dealings, urging the company to overhaul its garment-sourcing practices, and be more transparent with customers. 

An overwhelming proportion of the clothes sold in Australia are estimated to be sourced from Asia, and there have been calls for other major clothing brands to inform customers about their supply chains.

Source: Fairfax.