How do we know which retailers have ethical practices? Related to the Bangladeshi factory tragedy

(265 Posts)
Cristiane Sun 28-Apr-13 07:15:05

The news from Banglaesh gets worse and worse - 352 people dead so far in the collapses factory where people made clothes for Matalan, Primark and ther names.

I don't want to buy from labels that don't use sweat shops and don't use suppliers that have coercive or dehumanising working conditions. Does anyone know if there is a list prepared of the most ethical retailers?

Cristiane Sun 28-Apr-13 07:16:24

I want to buy not don't want to buy...

<slaps self>

StupidFlanders Sun 28-Apr-13 07:20:36

I'm curious about this too, it seems so complicated that I've often chosen the least bad.
I'm not even sure if the body shop is still ethically manufactured.

missmartha Sun 28-Apr-13 08:17:16

I don't know how you can tell. Obviously some brands sell stuff dirt cheap so that's pretty much a give away.

On the other hand, I've heard that some designer clothes are made in sweat shops too, the companies that sell them just charge more and make a bigger profit per garment. So you can't go by price alone.

Maybe we need Fair Trade label for clothes.

mercibucket Sun 28-Apr-13 08:23:42

I buy m and s for this reason as I trust them more

mercibucket Sun 28-Apr-13 08:23:42

I buy m and s for this reason as I trust them more

sleepdodger Sun 28-Apr-13 08:30:28

I have involvement in this through work
Essentially all companies have an ethical code, and how good it is bears no resemblance to the price you pay for a garment, but clearly lower prices will put pressure on factories
In uk most companies have a good leek of conduct, the horrific issue in Bangladesh was caused by people saying a building wa safe when they knew it wasn't, and sadly you cannot legislate for that
If the lack of clarity make you think you won't buy clothes from Bangladesh that actually compounds the issues as ethically people then lose jobs and slide further down the appalling poverty chain hmm
Fwiw I buy my clothes from most uk highest stores confidently but I avoid heavy embellishment from cheap stores, it's hand done and likely to be sub contracted in unknown places by unknown people hmmconfused
Feel free to ask any questions, if I can answer without outing myself I will

DeafLeopard Sun 28-Apr-13 08:49:58

That is interesting to know sleepdodger.

I agree that if we all stop buying then people lose their jobs, I guess it needs pressure putting on the retailers / manufacturers to ensure that their clothes are ethical.

How well they do that is another matter entirely.

HilaryM Sun 28-Apr-13 09:11:08
HilaryM Sun 28-Apr-13 09:12:57
TigerseyeMum Sun 28-Apr-13 10:44:49

A link I read on the subject yesterday suggested American retailers had avoided a global agreement up check welfare standards because it 'wouldn't make economic sense' (ie would cost them money), this would allow premises and working conditions to be checked independently and internationally agreed standards to be upheld.

Companies named in the report were Gap and H&M but they were not alone. I can't do a linky on my phone, it won't let me post.

It's long been known that cheap high street brands have low standards as do sports brands. If its cheap, someone somewhere has to pay.

TigerseyeMum Sun 28-Apr-13 10:48:43

It is strange to see Asda scoring 3.5 out of 5 on your labour behind the label link Hilary

Oops got that wrong, no company scores higher than 3 out of five in that list. The list is very limited.

I stopped shopping in Topshop etc after the tax avoidance came to light. I suppose my budget being so small means I won't have much impact on these shops. Really disappointed but not surprised about H&M - I do shop there, I can afford to, I like Zara but our nearest one closed down and I am not keen on shopping online, it is way too much of a hassle.

These things need to be known for people to start to shop more ethically mass faintings happening in Cambodian factories "due to poverty pay and malnutrition in workers who sew Gap, H&M, Zara and Levi's fashion items."

EasterHoliday Sun 28-Apr-13 11:17:30

Here's the thing; a retailer can have pretty stringent checks and codes in place relating to payment / treatment / working hours / age of staff engaged to manufacture your clothes, but unless they're actually going to go through the same process with the building companies who make the factories for a third party (quite possibly years before they start to use that supplier), is a building collapse really an indication of poor ethical standards? There are frequent news stories of buildings and roads collapsing /disintegrating in China where expansion is happening at such an accelerated pace that things are done quickly / overloaded - isn't it more a government issue to regulate building processes rather than the haulage companies who send their workers out in lorries on those roads / bridges? When a nightclub in Brazil goes up in flames with fire exits bolted shut, it's no indication that the workers weren't treated very well - I don't think that the integrity of a building belonging to a third party is necessarily indicative of the way workers are treated. The Bangladeshi factory workers may well have had regular breaks, food, decent pay and the structural integrity of the building does not necessarily demonstrate degrading / dehumanising working practices.

I know people in this country are cash strapped and time poor but we all have blood on our hands if we continue to buy clothes from unethical companies willing to profit from starvation wages "The building contained 3 separate clothing factories, which locals say housed around 6,000 workers. Following the collapse, activists were able to enter the ruins and discovered labels from brands including Primark and Mango, indicating that they were sourcing from the factories. Rana Plaza also produced for a host of well known brand names including C&A, Matalan and Wal-Mart." Here.

Time for an mn campaign?

Do you think they were treated fairly Easter? From what I have read workers had staged a protest or walk out a few days before to protest at the state of the building.

In the u.k we have health and safety executive and local environmental health to check that all work places are meeting safety requirements and people can report any companies they think are breaching the requirements.

YoniOno Sun 28-Apr-13 11:33:53

Yy to an MN campaign. It's all very well to say that it's up to us as consumers to make ethical choices, but it's bloody hard to find out and harder still when we need cheap clothes for children etc.

If there are certain standards for workplace safety and conditions in the UK, it doesn't make sense to me that we can buy products here that have been made in sweatshops. I hope that a positive change is made from this horrific incident.

IMO it's much more the responsibility of the UK govt than individual consumers. How can companies trade here, profit here, pay taxes here when their profit is soaked in blood? It makes the whole system corrupt.

TigerseyeMum Sun 28-Apr-13 11:34:13

The workers who walked out days before the collapse were abused and forced to return to work from the owners,, under threat of losing their pay and livelihood.

International, wealthy, western companies can run checks. They choose not to. As western practises improved and became more costly they moved manufacturing out to other countries where workers could be exploited to maintain their profit margins.

All too easy to throw up our hands and say 'not guilty, nothing we could have done'. Entry could have been done if enough people had cared.

TigerseyeMum Sun 28-Apr-13 11:35:33

Plenty, I mean.

Look at how many have died recently in other incidents - "On 11th September 2012, more than 200 workers perished at the Ali Enterprises factory in Karachi, Pakistan. On the same day workers were also killed in fires at factories in Lahore, Pakistan in Russia. On 24th November 2012 124 workers were killed and over 150 workers were injured in a fire at Tazreen Fashion in Bangladesh. In all cases fire escapes were locked, inadequate or simply non existant. Windows were barred and stairways were blocked. Those workers who escaped had to break through walls and windows or jump out of ventilation shafts." send an e-mail here

We need a PETA style campaign showing the shocking truth of the conditions people work in. The media does not seem too keen to give much space to this kind of news - but who pays to advertise with them?

YoniOno Sun 28-Apr-13 11:55:01

Is it not possible for the govt to make laws to prevent companies trading in the UK, acting as though UK labour laws don't apply?

I don't feel we live in a civilised country if we can pretend we're not essentially using slave labour, just because it's happening beyond our borders. Companies can literally act as though there are no labour standards at all, but happily base and trade in the UK. It's much worse than the horsemeat scandal, this is human life - yet it's getting less media attention angry

FrugalFashionista Sun 28-Apr-13 11:59:26

We had disasters like these in our countries - slavery to pick and process cotton, the Triangle factory fire in New York and the horrific 19th century child labor use in British textile mills. We chose to do something about it and it worked - now we should make sure the same measures are taken in more distant places.

There is no truly cheap fashion - someone always foots the bill.

FrugalFashionista Sun 28-Apr-13 12:01:56

If anyone is interest in organizing a boycott, count me in!

Cotton picking in Uzbekistan not exactly a paragon of fair labor practises either.

I think it would be good to link positively to fashion that is ethical, when you post a link to a garment you can take a second to consider if it is ethically produced maybe even pointing out that you think it is(?) - but really are we preaching to the converted? I am not sure a boycott is enough - promoting companies that do have real proven track record in raising standards in working conditions, letting companies that choose to ignore the conditions of workers know it is not acceptable is important too.

Notquitegrownup Sun 28-Apr-13 12:40:20

Thanks Tapsel - have sent email from that site. Agree to a MN campaign/raising awareness here. There are good organisations battling out there to improve things. It would be a wonderful legacy for all of those who died this week, if their deaths contributed to a change in practice for UK companies and their suppliers

Cristiane Sun 28-Apr-13 12:41:45

I think an MN campaign is a great idea. I don't want to do people out of jobs in developing nations but not do I think that we need so many cheap, wear once clothes from Primark etc. I do work in finance and I am aware of the pressure on retailers to keep margins up and costs down.

What does work though is customers voting with their feet and wallets. If we know which retailers to avoid they will sharpen up their act so they don't lose sales

dexter73 Sun 28-Apr-13 13:04:13

Which shops are you boycotting?

wreckitralph Sun 28-Apr-13 13:16:28

This is a bit of a catch 22 position in my opinion. On one hand it is said that if we do not buy the cheap clothes these people will have no income, on the other hand I think these people are exploited.

I have lived in Asia for 16 years and believe me, I have seen plenty of exploitation. I once worked for a company in the hospitality industry and they had outlets all over Asia. They used to employ locals in their outlets and made a handsome profit. They they replaced those people with people from the Philippines because they were cheaper, then they replaced those Philippinos with people from Myanmar because "you had to pay Philippinos USD 100 and Burmese only USD50 a month". We are not talking about cheap garments being made here here we are talking about 5-star hospitality where the rich hang out. The price never came down, just the costs making more profit for the company.

Yes I think that we need to shop more ethically, but even if we try and change things, you will always have companies who continue to squeeze and squeeze.

Where I live you can employ a Phillipina to live in your house and do everything (cook, clean, iron, wash the car, mind your 3 kids like a nanny as people expect her to be Mary Poppins) 7 days a week (law is to give them 1 day off a month - not always adhered to I may add) for 200 pounds a month. I know lots of people who won't hire them and instead hire a Bangladeshi for 80 pounds a month and because you don't need to give them a day off.

Seriously, if they are using Bangladeshis, it's because they are the cheapest labour on the planet. Seriously, I am not trying to be offensive. I really do want to know what the average wage for one of these seamstresses is? I know that Bangladeshi men are paid 8 pounds a day to work on construction sites in Asia.

I would like to see some sort of labelling on goods as to where it was made. Our food is broken down, why not our products? I's also like to see our overseas aid going to countries like Bangladesh to improve their structure and standard of living. We don't get to hear much of them nor do I believe we send them any money. Oh, they don't have anything we can strip, that's why!

roseinwinter Sun 28-Apr-13 14:16:25

I completely agree that this is a government not individual consumer issue and would definitely support a MN campaign/boycott.
If we in the UK can have a law that enables companies violating UK bribery laws anywhere in the world to be fined and prosecuted here (the Bribery Act) then I don't see why we can't have an equivalent law for companies violating human rights / basic labour laws elsewhere and selling their goods here. I suppose it all comes down to money.
What happened in Bangladesh is not an accident. It was entirely avoidable. There is a fine line between putting pressure on companies to improve their ethical standards and causing those same companies to move their manufacturing bases but that line does exist and efforts have to be made to find it.
As a consumer I find it horrifying that i am probably contributing to human tragedies like this one and have no way of knowing which companies are responsibly producing clothes.
Is the only way to make sure you are not perpetuating these practices buying in eBay/from charity shops or making your own?

FrancesFarmer Sun 28-Apr-13 14:20:10

WreckItRalph - I agree with you on the labeling question. If we can trace food products, why can't we trace garments? And have independent inspections of the factories? We need more transparency.

I don't care if it's hassle for clothing companies or if it means they make slightly less profit - it's worth it. European governments have a duty here because this problem is too complex for individual "consumers" to tackle - we are exporting this stuff into our countries and we must ensure we don't have blood on our hands when we do so.

FrugalFashionista Sun 28-Apr-13 14:35:41

I think companies will clean up their act when they know they are being watched and cut corners if we allow them to continue to do so.

How about a Primark ban? They have got lots of positive publicity on MN in the past (all the threads about 'Primarni' finds). If someone is more informed, please feel free to add to the list. The ban would mean 1) no personal and family shopping with them and 2) no pictures, blog posts or positive reviews about items bought from them.

Lots of clothes manufacturing operates by subcontracting. It's very complex but I think the aim should be a gradual increase in working and living conditions for all (= we understand we may have to pay more, think fairtrade tea, coffee and bananas).

I've shopped a lot at Zara, H&M and their affiliate chains and they are some of the biggest global gigants and they have a huge amount of subcontracters. Will need to do a bit of homework to decide whether they are already doing something to improve their practices.

We've done positive promotion for ethical niche labels here before and there is no harm in continuing to do so, but it is not enough. They play a bit part in the global trade - the gigants have the biggest influence. And we are an important customer base for the gigants.

FrugalFashionista Sun 28-Apr-13 14:45:12

H&M are definitely listening - read this Guardian article. Gilding the lily - possibly? But you have to start somewhere...

FrugalFashionista Sun 28-Apr-13 14:57:26

Interesting site - Rankabrand - for consumers trying to decide which brands are sustainable.

I think it is a complex issue, real independent auditing of factories and working conditions would be a start - with grading system to show what kind of conditions/wages the workers have to put up with. A number on the label saying where the garment is made and how ethical/fair is the factory?

Could it be quite simple to do. What charities are involved in monitory the human rights. Of workers? Aims for improvement again on a grading system to see what has been achieved and what needs to be worked on.

The thing is if I can buy fairtrade, if it is available, I will buy it, bananas, coffee, tea, I have bought fairtrade fashion conscious clothing in the past but it is getting harder to find and if consumers don't demand it... Even if the cotton is fairtrade their is no guarantee the person making a garment is fairly treated.

This doesn't just happen in Bangladesh - boycotting clothes from there might do more damage than good? The pressure has to be on the companies. If they are willing to listen to their customers.

I am not wearing anything fairtrade today:

Bra - Freya - made in Tunisia
Knickers & vest - m & s - made in Sri Lanka
Jeans - uniqlo - made in China
T-shirt - H&M - made in Bangladesh

I have stopped shopping in TP/DP because of tax evasion, Homebase etc because of workfare - but I think the treatment of workers in the garment industry is actually morally/ethically much much worse.

It makes me feel sick, angry and sad. What can I do?

SprinkleLiberally Sun 28-Apr-13 15:41:30

This is such a complex issue. As a consumer I want to buy ethically, but information is key. There is also the "best of a very bad bunch" scenario with pretty much all of the high street. So firstly I would welcome proper information.

Secondly, as a consumer we have some responsibility, but it is important to remember where key responsibilities and power to change lie. With companies and subcontractors and factory owners.

BangOn Sun 28-Apr-13 15:41:57

There is already a fair trade label for clothes ; it's exactly the same as that on a jar of coffee. Problem is, you have to actively seek out fair trade clothing from Nomads, People Tree, Ascension etc, to find it. These brands are limited, & few in number & doing their best, but if we want fair trade to become the default option for clothing (as amazingly sugar, tea & chocolate now are) then we're going to have to exercise our ethical duty as consumers, until the fall in demand for sweatshop produce induces a moral conscience in the big retailers.

MrsCampbellBlack Sun 28-Apr-13 15:53:09

I would gladly boycott shops/brands that exploit their workers but I just don't know/can't find a definitive list.

Easy for me to boycott primark/Matalan as I never shop there anyway but interested in places like zara/h&m/gap and also the higher end of the high street so places like whistles/boden/comptoir etc. I tend to assume if I'm paying a higher price it should be ok but I don't really know.

SprinkleLiberally Sun 28-Apr-13 16:01:17

From what I've read, higher price is mo guarantee unfortunately.

Cristiane Sun 28-Apr-13 16:57:00

So maybe it would be a good idea as well to have a list of ethical retailers to start off with - bangon you say People Tree, Ascension and Nomads

Do any of them make children's clothes?

It is weird that fair trade is established for food goods. I was thinking about my 'organic' cotton tops from H&M and Sainsburys... And how weird that organic is seen as a selling point and not fair trade for clothes!

Forgetfulmog Sun 28-Apr-13 17:00:30

There's a petition ongoing at the moment, will find a link...

Forgetfulmog Sun 28-Apr-13 17:01:55
Mondrian Sun 28-Apr-13 17:39:54

I used to have some info on the rag trade but not upto date with it - assume its pretty much the same. They buy from wherever that has the lowest price. It used to be India then moved to cheaper Pakistan, then moved to Philippines, then Vietnam and now Bangladesh. If a retailer/buyer had an ethical requirement then all that was required was a statement from the supplier saying that they produce according to those guidelines.

It is very difficult to control due to the long supply chain spread over different countries & continents, the fibre suppliers, the yarn makers, the weavers, the finishers and then there is all the zips, buttons, interlinings ....

wasn't apple linked to problems at several manufacturing sites in china, with reported suicides, explosions etc, apparently they managed to hide behind the supply chain.

What I am saying is that we probably end up with some PR effort rather than real change for the slave labour.

FrugalFashionista Sun 28-Apr-13 19:05:12

A very simple and helpful ethical ranking list of major UK high street clothes vendors (includes H&M and Zara).

You can of course argue about the criteria, but you also need to start somewhere. Bottom line: if you care at all about factory workers' conditions, don't buy dirt cheap clothes and don't buy your clothes at supermarkets.

Zara have repeatedly had problems with slave/ child labor in South America.

YoniOno Sun 28-Apr-13 19:24:09

Looking through the Rankabrand site linked above, which rates brands A to E based on criteria including not employing child labour and so on, there are some interesting/depressing finds on brands I like, and brands that are often mentioned on here. Have picked out ones people on S and B might be interested in out of a total of 258 brands.

A (top rated) only 4 brands made this category.

Nudie jeans - DH has a pair of these, cost over £100 from Selfridges, they're really good jeans and I had no idea they were fair trade so smile to them.


Cos, Veja, H and M, Cheap Monday,Vila and Vero Moda. Also mama-licious who I haven't heard of for maternity stuff but will check out.


Zara, Primark, New Look, Gap, Monsoon, ASOS, Esprit, Next. High end - Acne and Stella McCartney


New Balance, Coast, Laura Ashley, Benetton (surprised!) Victoria's Secret, North Face, UGG. High end - Burberry, Calvin Klein, Gucci, Balenciaga, Yves Saint Laurent, Chloe.

E (lowest of the low, start your boycotts with these guys)

Dr Martens, Triumph, Sloggi, Hollister, Hugo Boss, Tommy Hilfiger, Marc Jacobs (my fave, gulp), Fendi, Louis Vuitton (!), DKNY, Quiksilver, Freya, Michael Kors, French Connection, Hush Puppies, Crocs, Alexander McQueen, Paul Smith, Dior, Versace, Valentino, Dolce and Gabbana, Vivienne Westwood, Havaianas ( sad ), Prada, Kenzo, Chanel, La Perla, Falke, Lanvin, Clarks, Desigual, Louboutin, Miu Miu, Diesel, Ralph Lauren, Jimmy Choo, Burton, MaxMara, Isabel Marant and Givenchy.

Omg. So many top end brands in the worst ranked for working conditions sad angry

dexter73 Sun 28-Apr-13 19:29:08

I'm surprised about Vivienne Westwood. She always seems to try to be so 'right on' yet she is in the bottom category.

redwellybluewelly Sun 28-Apr-13 19:36:38

Interesting thread, thank you OP.

I've recently been shopping for my maternity hospital bag, I'm booked for an ELCS so need PJs and clothes which sre high up to avoid scar. The only high street shop which sold anything which would do was Primark (none of our high street shops offer a maternity range anymore) but the day after ti bought them the news hit about the building collapse.

I really now want to return these items, ethically I don't want to feel bad about the clothes I'm wearing. Financially however buying and then paying for returns from Internet shopping stings a bit.

Thread has helped me make up my mind.

Forgetfulmog Sun 28-Apr-13 19:37:15

Yoni - that is really shocking to see those brands in the bottom set, when you think of all the profits the shareholders of those brands must be making confused

hollyisalovelyname Sun 28-Apr-13 19:38:47

Cristiane well done for starting this yhread. Perhaps the power of Mumsnet will help the manufacturers wake up and take notice. We want ethically produced garments.... There for the grace of the gods go i.... Fickle finger of fate deems i was born in the west with its labour laws. But we should fight for those less fortunate

emilystrange2013 Sun 28-Apr-13 20:20:19

Thanks for that list YoniOno . You know what, as distasteful as it is that Primark and the like are using these places to produce their stuff, I think it's even more unethical and immoral of the high end companies that are making such a huge profit on each piece.

Would it be fair to say that if a product is labelled as made in an EU country that it it safe enough to say that it's ethically produced, or is there any funny business with the labelling?

Cristiane Sun 28-Apr-13 20:32:57

emily I used to analyse luxury goods companies and I know that often goods will say 'Made in Italy' but in fact to qualify for that they only need to be finished in Italy, final seams and packaging.

I remember being astonished to find that the margin, not just the gross margin, the margin after sales and marketing costs etc, on Louis Vuitton leather goods, such as their wallets, was 90%

Thank you for that list if retailers. It will inform my shopping from now on

Cristiane Sun 28-Apr-13 20:33:50

OF retailers, sorry yoniono

VinegarDrinker Sun 28-Apr-13 20:54:47

Thanks for those links. We try to buy second hand wherever possible, but have slipped back to H&M a bit recently.

I am surprised to see M&S performing so poorly on those lists.

I think Frugi are pretty sound ethically for kids' stuff, not cheap though.

ProjectGainsborough Sun 28-Apr-13 20:57:50

Wow. Boo to Vivienne then. Feel a bit upset about that...

FrugalFashionista Sun 28-Apr-13 20:58:19

Yoni thanks for making the list, very helpful!

'Made in EU' is one of the most misleading labels out there. It's very vague and it can mean, among other things -
* this was manufactured in a hellhole somewhere in Asia, then brought within EU borders for final assembly or finishing details (such as adding a the clasp to the bag)
* it was made in a windowless container in the outskirts of Naples by Chinese illegal immigrants (read Roberto Saviano's chilling expose Gomorrah)
* it was made in one of the newest EU countries where labor laws are lax and corruption common - and very few people earn a living wage

I was going to buy a Burberry winter coat last year. It said 'Made in Bosnia' inside. I have nothing against Bosnia, jobs are needed there, but this is not exactly what you are expecting for a traditionally British company.

Many of the companies that are highly rated are Scandinavian in origin (Nudie is Swedish; H&M and its affiliates COS, Monki, and Cheap Monday started in Sweden; the Vila/Vero Moda/Pieces/Only/Selected/Mamalicious conglomerate is Danish) - the consumer movement and various ethical initiatives have been very strong there for a long and consumer movements and watchdog groups have definitely had a strong influence on corporate policies.

Many luxury companies are an evil bunch these days (LVMH in particular) - they have a track record of shortchanging both their suppliers and customers.

Lots of great books out there for the concerned consumer - pick just one of these, read it, and you will be much more informed:
* The travels of the t shirt in the global economy
* Overdressed
* Deluxe, how luxury lost its luster
* Factory Girls
And of course contemporary classics like Naomi Klein's No Logo and Saviano's Gomorrah.

4yoniD Sun 28-Apr-13 21:26:47

Has anyone else noticed that the links above contradict each other?

I noticed this one put Asda higher (relatively higher, 3/5) while this one puts it down the bottom, even if you adjust the sliders to only take into account people.

Cristiane Sun 28-Apr-13 22:03:23

It is tricky 4yoni and I was wondering if it would work to select retailers that positively work for the benefit of those working in developing countries... It is so tricky!

PetiteMum Sun 28-Apr-13 22:13:26

And we hae online retailers like asks, boohoo etc that make it even more complex...... It is consumerism gone mad! I must admit I will now think twice before purchases are made....

PetiteMum Sun 28-Apr-13 22:14:14

Asks? I meant asos....

4yoni I am completely confused about who is ethical and who isn't. I think there needs to be one trusted organisation, like the fairtrade logo we see on food and very occasionally on clothes (but is it just the cotton that is fairtrade not the working conditions of those in the garment industry?).

There does seem to be a contradiction between the different lists.

I think it is almost irrelevant who does it, because so many, nearly all brands do, are we going to target them all - how?! Clarks - how many mners buy their children's shoes from there, what are the alternatives?

Freya! Bras are a nightmare for me - that is the brand I always buy - do i boycott them or write and ask them what they are doing to improve working conditions?

I think the power of mumsnet could make such a difference, not just to target specific brands - but to promote companies known to be ethical, that ensure the clothing they profit from selling to us is made by someone who isn't starving/working in a death trap factory.

If you customise the score settings on the ethical consumer link with the sliders, then really the only high street companies that score above 5 are New Look and Bon Marche!

This link gives you a list of ethical companies, again I adjusted the sliders, putting people high etc, the bottom 4-6 (ish) traders still score poorly with Edun scoring zero!

Mannequinkate Sun 28-Apr-13 23:05:35

Fairtrade ensures the producer is paid a fair amount for his goods. So in terms of clothing only cotton is fair trade. This cotton then has to go through a mill and a dye house before getting to the factory floor before becoming the fair trade tshirt you are wearing.

None of the people in this chain once we leave the producer need be treated fairly by their employer for your tshirt to count as fair trade.

People in general will not pay more for an item if clothing because it is fair trade. So retailers cannot justify stocking it (unless specifically targeting a niche market). It isn't like a supermarket where they will have 30 different instant coffers so giving over some if that space to fair trade is a nobrainer. A clothing retailer has space for 1 white tshirt if theirs is more expensive than the one next door with no obvious difference except a fair trade sticker, most consumers would go next door and not bother coming back.

"When War on Want did its research into factories in Bangladesh supplying Tesco, Primark and ASDA last year, it found workers on less than 7p an hour working in excess of 70 hour weeks.(3) " 70 hours at 7 pence an hour = £4.90 for 70 hours work

"Paul Collins believes that since then, very little has changed for those workers, despite rhetoric from the companies that those clothes are being made under ethical conditions. “We would know from workers if there was a significant change in conditions,” agrees Maher.(8) “Unless companies can prove to us that workers are working in decent conditions, then it’s unlikely that just because they are ETI (ethical trade initiative) members workers are being treated fairly and being paid enough ”. From looking at ethical school uniform scroll down for the comment.

creamsoda Mon 29-Apr-13 00:51:58

V interesting thread, I try to buy fair trade/organic/second hand where possible but acknowledge that the only real ethical and environmental choice is not to buy. Cotton is the dirtiest crop in terms of water use and pesticides and so coupled with the use of slave labor in production, it's difficult to consider buying clothing as ethical.
'Green is the new black' was a really interesting read, as was 'Eco chick'.
Also, 'blood, sweat and tshirts' is a informative documentary in terms of sweat shops, as it does look at the realism of jobs being needed.
Natural is a great website, as is the amnesty clothing site (think they have nudie jeans)
I think the sad fact is that businesses feel a constant drive to grow so more profit is demanded.
Check out the Forbes rich list...many clothing companies have created the richest people in the world (Zara!) and let's face it, in order to get that rich, exploitation has happened...
I would love to live in a world where people really did 'come before profit'. I guess accepting that we need to buy less, but be willing to spend more to ensure trade is truly fair is one way to do it, and try to use people tree etc when we do buy is a start.

MrsCampbellBlack Mon 29-Apr-13 10:31:07

Just listening to woman's hour and this is going to be discussed on there this week so will be interested to hear what their 'experts' have to say

Forgetfulmog Mon 29-Apr-13 11:09:26

Just ordered a dress from The People Tree website - they've got some gorgeous stuff on there

YoniOno Mon 29-Apr-13 11:40:14

As Frugal says above - Naomi Klein's book 'No Logo' is well worth a read, easy to read and v interesting.

Available from Amazon here or of course your local bookshop wink

It's all about how big brands outsource literally everything so all the likes of Nike actually do, is marketing and advertising. They own no factories, make nothing, produce nothing. Everything is outsourced and untraceable (allegedly) so nothing is their responsibility. I think it talks about Nike being one of the first companies to recognise that the less you actually do as a company, the more money you make. All they do is PR, all the work is done by people not directly employed by Nike.

So many parallels with the horsemeat scandal, where of course Tesco (who make nothing and stick their logo on everything) can blame their 'suppliers'.

It's modern slavery, when you are basically paid by a multinational but off the payroll... hidden by layers of borders and no logos anywhere until the last possible second. You're a supplier, not an employee, with no rights.

Bramshott Mon 29-Apr-13 11:50:05

I seem to remember New Look coming out of a previous ethical audit (maybe it was the ethical consumer one) quite well. Here's their ethical trading policy. M & S are also pretty good for fairtrade cotton basics, but I'm never sure if that's just the actual production of the cotton rather than the production of the garment.

ppeatfruit Mon 29-Apr-13 12:14:03

I bought some fairtrade Tshirts a couple of years ago from M & S and they were CHEAPER shock than the 'normal' ones !!!

VinegarDrinker Mon 29-Apr-13 12:15:18

I've bought M&S Fairtrade t shirts before too and felt pleased but even their Fairtrade stuff seems to score very badly on the links earlier upthread

FrugalFashionista Mon 29-Apr-13 12:18:43

I think we'd make the most progress by contacting the brands (via letter, email, FB, tweets) we love and inquiring about their ethical sourcing.

Personally, Zara purchases on hold. They have nothing about ethical personnel/subcontactor policy on their website and the past incidents sound really bad. I will shop at H&M and COS and Lindex and Vila instead (all of them seem to have made some progress) and explore niche ethical labels.

ppeatfruit Mon 29-Apr-13 12:28:11

Yes I agree frugal I have always bought organic cotton clothes\sheets where I can because I hate the thought of the poor workers being made ill by the over use of pesticides etc. in any countries. IMO the garment industry has a lot to answer for.

Well said Yoni "It's modern slavery, when you are basically paid by a multinational but off the payroll... hidden by layers of borders and no logos anywhere until the last possible second. You're a supplier, not an employee, with no rights."

Last night I trawled ethical consumer links to have a look at the ethical alternatives - quite a few of the brands are available at fashion conscience which has a real mix of clothes. I think my next pair of jeans and my summer shoes will come from there.

I like these ethletic converse style shoes - dearer than my usual local supermarket cheapies - but I won't be ashamed to wear them.

NC78 Mon 29-Apr-13 12:34:26


Frugal H&M don't seem to be doing any better than Mango/zara/levi - see here - I am more likely to shop at H&M than any other store, because it is cheap, convenient and local, I get clothes for myself and my children there - they are within my means.

ppeatfruit Mon 29-Apr-13 12:49:06

This is being discussed on R2 now and there are terrible background details like the fact that the 3 extra storeys were built without planning permission and the actual building was built on a lake that had been filled in with sand without the right bases,it gets more and more shocking.

FrugalFashionista Mon 29-Apr-13 13:16:19

Ok, all purchases on hold, much better wink
I'd like to see some way of progress reporting too - there have to be incentives for companies to improve, otherwise those who are labeled bad will only further shortchange their suppliers and become even worse.

I like the 'Nudge a brand' idea on the Rankyourbrand site!

Saw the news today with a young girl who was on the top floor of the building when it collapsed, her mother is still missing. Watching all the families with their photos of the workers still missing standing by as the bulldozers went in, so, so heartbreaking.

I hope this is the point where everyone involved in fashion accepts some of the blame for this, and stands up for those too weak to fight for themselves.

ppeatfruit Mon 29-Apr-13 15:45:15

It's so terrible that it has to take 350 deaths to make this scandal get into the news. On R2 some callers were saying that its not the companies' or the consumers' fault it's the govts. of Bangladeshs' (sp)? fault. So that's alright then angry

I've just signed this petition.

FrancesFarmer Mon 29-Apr-13 17:45:43

I have signed it, QueenofWhatever.

I hope something comes of it.

Signed and shared with FB friends.

hollyisalovelyname Mon 29-Apr-13 19:46:30

Frugalfashionista H&M and Cos have the same owners.
Whoever said it is 21st century slavery- you are right. We the consumers must be able to do something to help our fellow (wo)men.
'Evil triumphs because good people say nothing'

moggiek Mon 29-Apr-13 20:51:12

Primark have said they will take care of the families of those dead or injured, and are asking other retailers to do the same.

FrugalFashionista Mon 29-Apr-13 21:05:32

Ok that is a decent move from Primark.
But they and others really have to address these issues or the same will happen over and over again!
Thanks for the various petition links, have signed!

Do you have a link Moggie?

"The collapse of the Rana Plaza building once again highlights the failure of corporate social auditing schemes. Two of the factories had been audited by the Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI), and many of the other brands have auditing schemes in place. Despite repeated fires and building collapses in Bangladesh, brands still rely on company audits to ensure basic fire and building safety regulations are being adhered to.

Therefore, steps must be taken now to review the safety of all suppliers in Bangladesh to prevent further tragedies. The most effective way to do this is for all brands and retailers buying from Bangladesh to immediately sign and implement the Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Agreement."

The above is from today Press release: Labour Behind the Label urges brands to sign Safety Agreement.

It is only fair that companies that profit from these incredibly poorly paid workers should pay compensation, not just to the families of victims in this situation, but in every case. A fire in November 2012, in a garment factory in Bangladesh - where there was no fire escapes and over 120 people died - victims are still fighting for compensation.

This debate cannot only be about compensation, no one should have to work in these conditions, it is about basic rights to work in a safe and healthy environment - surely even the companies involved can see the benefit of that for the worker, productivity and for the image of their business!

ppeatfruit Tue 30-Apr-13 09:25:57

Queen I have signed too. The problem with unionising and health and safety is that it would have to take a major change in the culture of corruption and saving face that is endemic in some countries.

On the news last night it said that the Bangladeshi govt. refused the offer of help made by the U.N.(?) saying that their own emergency services could deal with it. sad angry

Ppeat even though it might not be easy it is still the only way to make sure people don't die, we don't accept that kind of treatment in this country, companies that profit from the low wages in these countries should be required by law to ensure that working conditions are fair in all the factories they buy goods from.

If you look at brands on the website fashion-conscience you can see it is doable, the brands that pay their producers fairly are obviously making a profit - there needs to be continual pressure on high street stores to prove they are ensuring workers are not malnourished due to starvation wages, that children aren't employed and workplaces are safe. If people don't want to have blood on their hands then we all have to stand up and say we are not happy about this and it has to change.

I am not sure how this will be done but I know it can be done. I am going to spend a lot more time trying to find alternatives to high street clothes, until I know that companies are making more of an effort.

Every time I put on a t-shirt now I check where it was made, and think of the working conditions it was made in, and I wonder if the person who made it has died because of being unsafe at work.

slightlysoupstained Tue 30-Apr-13 10:48:43

Would like to suggest two small traders (probably too small to make it into most of the lists above):

Bishopston Trading - have been going for about 30 years. Variety of clothes including school shirts (haven't used these as DS too young, but have bought some baby stuff which is lovely). Sadly it sounds like they've struggled in the recession - used to have 5 shops, now down to two and the online sales.

Who Made Your Pants Based in Southampton - heard about them a while ago, thought "oh I should try a pair". Haven't got around to it, till now.

ppeatfruit Tue 30-Apr-13 13:51:59

Thanks for the links slightly I just clicked on to Bishopston to read sadly that they are closing down after this season sad Maybe if we all buy something from them (they sound lovely and their stuff looks nice) we could keep them open! grin

DigWeedSow Tue 30-Apr-13 14:37:03

I don't know if it's already been mentioned but the Goodguide has some good info. Unfortunately a lot of the brands listed are US brands but there is quite a bit of relevant info on there. It's interesting to see that many of the brands that rate badly are sold at top end prices.

Another signature added to the petition Queen

MrsRadicchio Tue 30-Apr-13 15:02:38

A bit late but wanted to mention about fairtrade t-shirts in supermarkers / m&s...I heard the People Tree founder Safia Minney talk a while back and she said that these are basically heavily subsidised by their main lines. It would actually be impossible to create a £3 fairtrade t-shirt which a previous pp mentioned, and they can only do it because they have the profits from their main line. But then this gives the public a skewed view of how much ethical clothes should cost. Eg "I'm not paying £25 for a fairtrade t-shirt because M&S were doing them for £3 last year..."

slightlysoupstained Tue 30-Apr-13 16:41:21

ppeatfruit NOOO! sad Crap, if Bishopston Trading (who make both clothes and fabric) aren't viable, what is? Yes, let's buy stuff from them. DS has a few bits, lovely dungarees and trousers. And a fabulous stuffed dinosaur.

MrsRadicchio Good point, and wonder how much it's affected companies like People Tree and Bishopston.

Bishopston Trading is an interesting one, their main shop is on my local high street. The big problem - more than the pricing - is that the clothes are pretty dire and the colours sludgy. I confess to never even having been in their shop and I'm a hand-wringing liberal hippie type.

Until these companies can produce clothes people are desperate to buy, they will never become a commercial force.

Forgetfulmog Tue 30-Apr-13 20:27:16

Slightlysoupstained - thanks for the links; just had a look at Whomadeyourpants & what a brilliant website, I now want some pants!

applepudding Tue 30-Apr-13 21:20:55

MfrsRadicchio - that is an interesting point about supermarket fairtrade clothing being subsidised by other lines - I try to buy as much ethically produced clothing as I can - and as my finances allow which means that I do have a lot of fair trade T shirts purchased in Tesco and I always considered that there must be a difference between 'Tesco Fair Trade' and 'People Tree Fair Trade' due to the price differences.

Some suggestions to look at for ethically produced clothing - as others have said 'People Tree', 'Nomands Clothing', also 'Bibico', 'Komodo' and sites such as 'Purity Style' bring together a range of clothing.

I've also tried to find some manufacturer's of British clothing and have found (try googling) 'Nancy Dee' (dresses), 'Jumping Ships' (a few T shirty things not very inspiring), 'Postcard from Brighton' and Celtic Sheepskin (called something slightly different now - they do Ugg-type boots, and some British made knitwear but all their products are ethically made in EU). I have also seen British made knitwear stocked in Tesco and BHS. Unfortunately, aside from the 'Made in Britain' jumper I bought in Tesco they are all a lot more expensive than normal high street prices. As part of my search for British made clothing I also ordered a 'British Tweed' skirt from Boden, to find the label with a union jack inside printed with 'made in romania' .....!!

VinegarDrinker Tue 30-Apr-13 21:40:55

For kids stuff I used to buy a lot from Green Baby though I can't remember if they were Fairtrade (they have gone out of business), they have been bought by Little Green Radicals who are Fairtrade IIRC. Frugi are pretty sound ethically from what I understand although not certified Fairtrade I don't think.

The difference is in the prices, it just isn't affordable to buy everything from these companies imho, although we get a lot of Frugi stuff from eBay (which in itself is hardly a paragon of ethical virtue).

FrugalFashionista Tue 30-Apr-13 21:53:38

Ladies just want to thank you - lots of great info and links on this thread, very interesting.

Livia Firth has a high-end ecological/ethical range on Yoox, worth a look if you have a bigger budget and are looking for party clothes. She had a stunning LBD but sadly it sold out... Her site Eco-Age has some good links too. Mentioning these because people often complain that ethical clothes are dull or too hippy. People Tree have a 1950s style top that I really like and may order at some point. I have a pair of ex Celtic Sheepskin (now Celtic & Co) houseboots and can really recommend them - they look great after 2yrs of daily wear and have survived a wash. Iirc they also resole their boots.

sleepdodger Tue 30-Apr-13 23:05:43

NB fair trade isn't always about factories, it's more to do with yarn though is a better indicator on product life cycle tracking
What happened in Bangladesh was truly awful and the clothing industry are concerned, but please don't tar all people in same way
The dramatic headlines don't reflect local ways of life ie man gets paid £100 month making £50 tops doesn't mention minimum wage is £80 month and actually is happy in us work being paid above average in factory With dr and childcare... I know this isn't all places and I'm not glossing over the bad but I guess I'm saying to abandon such stores- factories makes the situation so much worse
Think about the forums talking about value and then think about what value means to you

sleepdodger Tue 30-Apr-13 23:07:42

To add to fair trade tees point- it is possible to sell at low retails so competitively but this is on back off millions of other pieces, cotton farmers etc still get paid properly grin

Hoping to buy my next pair of jeans from monkee genes - but the Bangladesh disaster has taken away my desire to shop! Not exactly helpful for the victims....

randomtask Tue 30-Apr-13 23:30:14

If you look at Ethical Superstore, they sell all sorts of clothes (as well as lots of other things) from the main fairtrade brands-might make it a bit easier finding things.

Forgetfulmog Wed 01-May-13 08:51:25

Does anyone know anything about Lands End? I've looked at their code of ethics, but it's a bit airy fairy

ppeatfruit Wed 01-May-13 09:25:47

Of course it isn't ALL the factories in the 3rd. world sleep the awful thing is, and this makes me think we're all on an uphill impossible struggle, that to make bigger profits companies will change their bases to the next even poorer country. sad angry

Forgetfulmog Wed 01-May-13 09:33:05

I think that's exactly what happens all ready ppeat, that's why Bangladesh is currently the favourite for big companies as its the cheapest labour market.

ppeatfruit Wed 01-May-13 10:18:36

I thought that korea is cheaper? forget

ohms11 Wed 01-May-13 10:19:37 Lists clothing retailers who still manufacture in the uk. Ethical and a boost to British manufacturing.

Forgetfulmog Wed 01-May-13 10:36:44
Forgetfulmog Wed 01-May-13 10:37:11

[[ ]]

foxysocks Wed 01-May-13 10:57:48

not had time to read whole thread but can big up veja - my spring/summer trainers are from them and FAB. got them from asos but they stock lots of place online

also loving some bits on the fashion-conscience website, thank you for linking flowers

sleepdodger Wed 01-May-13 20:14:10

Bangladesh isn't always the cheapest and therefore the beat choice-
It's duty free so attractive but they do have the same style of product as say china or India

sleepdodger Wed 01-May-13 20:16:13

Also to add, uk manufacture is not always ethical sad
Many uk factories have forced or poorly paid labour issues too sad
I only mention this as an aside- its never assumed that things are clean cut unfortunately, so is really about trusting retailer

ppeatfruit Thu 02-May-13 08:21:18

Yes I know sleepdodger It is very sad and shocking that all over the world there are some people who don't give a shxx how they make a profit.

I've just signed War on Want's Love Fashion Hate Sweatshops' petition. It made me realise no-one has mentioned their campaign yet which I've been supporting for a number of years now. You can get t-shirts too!

FrugalFashionista Sat 04-May-13 07:49:16

I am reading an excellent book, a British version of 'Overdressed'. Very interesting insights and analysis and an eerie name - 'To die for - is fashion wearing out the world?' by Lucy Siegle.

It explains, among other things, how and why the middle market (good-quality affordable clothes) has been one of the casualties of the fast fashion explosion. It's from 2011 so the examples are current and relevant. Can recommend!

Thecatsmum Sat 04-May-13 10:29:14

Personally I prefer quality over quantity and it really annoys me that the fashion industry has decided shops like Primark and co are what every woman wants. I'm more than happy to pay more money for British/non-sweatshop made clothes but the availability seems to be limited.

FrugalFashionista Sat 04-May-13 17:16:14

Catsmum what was new to me was that UK buys about half all of the imported fashion within the EU (that's what 'vibrant high street' means). About 40% of clothes in the UK are bought from 'value retailers' ie those that are most likely to shortchange their suppliers confused
About 15 years ago 90% what was sold in M&S was made in the UK - now next to nothing.

My DH grew up in a small garment factory owned by his family. He learned to walk in the cutting room and the seamstresses were family friends, often local mothers working part-time, not unlike most of us on MN. When the company went under in the 1980s and the jobs were lost, the women retrained and started doing something else. Restarting a similar domestic-production company is not simple - skilled laborers have been lost, and even if you could find some, it's not easy to make ends meet.

Lizzabadger Sat 04-May-13 17:47:27

Charity shops are the most ethical.

Sparkeleigh Sat 04-May-13 18:06:52

The Guardian has an ethical fashion directory that you can customise to choose fair trade / British made etc here

It says it's updated regularly...

CatherinaJTV Sat 04-May-13 18:57:29

what Lizzabadger says - I do charity shops. Must get Freya underwear, since no other company produces a bra my size and fit (I have looked). One glance at the tables and I think I should go naked...

unlucky83 Sat 04-May-13 19:27:13

Lots of mixed ratings of the big high street brands on the links here...
I never buy big designer brands because when I looked into this years ago I found that often they treat labour and the environment as badly as the value brands ...(never been in a Gap store for almost 20 yrs -for some reason thought they were ethical and discovered they weren't...)
The problem we have that we either spend £25 on children's t-shirt or £1.50...we need a mid range I'm sure most people would be happy to pay £3.00 or £5.00 even £10 if that extra went to the workers...and not in increased profit...
Low wages in figures - not particularly worried about - it is all relative ...(will never forget an Indian friend laughing at foreigners saying how cheap it was - £1 to buy all their fruit & veg for a week at a market in Calcutta - she knew for a 'native' it would have been 10p...or how £150 was enough to install central heating in an orphanage there -and also wondering why it costs so much for us to sponsor a child - when the amount we pay a month should be enough to sponsor a village! -but that's another story...)
Problem is our attitude to all resources - and clothes are just a part of that cheap that we have lots and don't look after them
We don't repair clothes anymore ....(remember DD1 going through a stage of putting her knee through her school tights on first wear...I couldn't bear the fact that all those resources, labour, transport, packaging had gone into something she could wear for less than a day -so I would darn them - all the time thinking 1) I'm mad -I can buy a new pair for less than £2, and 2) what will people think ...(she was only young and I don't really care what people think -but older DCs would be mortified...then I remember leather patches the elbows of my wool school jumpers at secondary - even though we weren't poor - they were expensive and the elbows wore out but rest was fine!)
But if we buy less the people who will really suffer are the ones who are making the clothes...
My logic is to boycott the designer brands who are make a huge mark ups eg £90 less money to Nike etc will effect the same number of workers as £5 less to Primark ...but have a more noticeable effect on Nike's income.... (Unless of course you spend £90 a year on brands and £90 a week at Primark)
(Disclaimer - not sure what Nike's reputation is like now - it used to be dreadful...might have improved...)

Merguez Sat 04-May-13 20:07:49

I think M&S is pretty reliable when it comes to ethical sourcing.

morethanpotatoprints Sat 04-May-13 20:17:49

I think its ok to make a song and dance if you are rich and can afford to shop at the expensive end of the market. Most people I know who are poor or scared of losing their job right now couldn't care a flaming pig.
I would be ethical if I could afford it, but Primani it is for me.
Matalan was a surprise as this can be quite expensive for what they sell.

winterdays Sat 04-May-13 20:34:05

More than potato prints how can you not care about so much death and suffering. The people are human beings just the same as your child, brother, sister

morethanpotatoprints Sat 04-May-13 20:42:43

I know and its a huge pity just like all the other injustices in the world. There are millions if we go looking for them.
There is only one reason people buy clothes from shops who have used sweatshops and that is low prices. Make their working environment better and pay them more and voila prices go up.
I'm not saying it isn't a shame, of course it is like any tragedy. I just can't see the point in putting these people out of work, maybe force them to starve because we want to play the compassionate missionaries.

Takver Sat 04-May-13 20:45:37

I know this isn't helpful for everyday clothing, but Get Cutie in Brighton have fabulous dresses, and they're all made locally. They are expensive, but I have two of their dresses, one is my 'posh frock' for weddings etc, the other my party dress, and both have been going strong for about 8 years now and are still always admired.

I was very sad when Howies moved their production abroad, always supported them when their clothes were made in Wales.

Takver Sat 04-May-13 20:47:58

"maybe force them to starve because we want to play the compassionate missionaries."

I think that it is a much more complex issue than that, though. Is production for export the best way forward for these countries? Or would production for home markets generate more wellbeing over all, for example.

I have no urge to buy clothes whilst workers are treated like this - I will have to buy my growing children replacement clothes, but I have no idea what the answer is to this.

Unless by some miracle workers rights are equal across the globe. If I was hurt working for one of the huge fashion chains in this country, through their negligence I could sue them for my injuries - if such companies want to make massive profits from cheap labour abroad they should pay damages directly to anyone who makes a garment for them and is hurt doing a job. There should be accountability.

winterdays Sat 04-May-13 20:53:55

More than that's exactly the same arguments used when Britain outlawed child labour, dangerous factory conditions for miners and mill workers etc aren't we glad there were compassionate missionaries then. we have the luxury of relative safety at work, protection from absolute starvation so I believe we must use the power we have to try and make a change.

Betty12 Sat 04-May-13 21:43:11

Another vote for PeopleTree. Seem to be a really ethical company that get involved in campaigning on the bigger picture as well as treating people fairly. Not everything to my taste, but their wrap dresses are extremely kind/flattering.

morethanpotatoprints Sat 04-May-13 22:07:40


You are exactly right and my apologies for sounding like I don't care. I was just thinking that there was very little we could do about it and that we could make it worse in the long term for the people working in these places. But we are fortunate to have the H&S we have here, it is easy to forget how it used to be here. thanks

Takver Sat 04-May-13 22:17:25

Another retailer that seems pretty good, again not cheap but a lot of their stuff is merino wool, so very warm and long lasting: finisterre clothing

They have very detailed source information (eg where the cotton is grown) on a lot of their clothing.

Takver Sat 04-May-13 22:18:48

If anyone fancies giving me an early birthday present, I'd like one of these grin

winterdays Sat 04-May-13 22:19:49

More than ... And I come across self righteous and preachy which prob just puts people's backs up . Especially as I'm not sure exactly what to do

joanofarchitrave Sat 04-May-13 22:20:33

morethanpotatoprints i was really interested to see in some of the links earlier that New Look tends to do quite well, whereas the really luxury brands (dior etc) are among the worst.

Yes, a lot of people aren't going to care, and a lot of people are struggling. Those groups aren't necessarily the same, far from it in fact.

joanofarchitrave Sat 04-May-13 22:22:20

Oh blimey. Loving lots of the stuff on these links but anything in my size is rarer than hen's teeth blush i would be more ethical if i were stuffing less of the earth's resources into my face on a daily basis

morethanpotatoprints Sat 04-May-13 22:26:28


You have made me sit up and listen and as I usually show compassion for people less fortunate than us, I am ashamed. I am terrible if there is an argument against, I just have to press the button. i drive my dh and older dc up the wall with my contrary stances.

Ok, so what can we do? Maybe a list of all the suppliers that people know of would be a start for e.g I would never have guessed Matalan, but Primark are well publicised. I seem to remember a standard letter on here once that people sent complaining about fair trade I think ? it said that they were no longer happy to support the business unless the conditions changed. Maybe something like this to all the known companies.

morethanpotatoprints Sat 04-May-13 22:28:56


I love you.
I have bought many things from New look, they are also good for my dd, the only one I have to buy for now. Please don't tell me they are going bust.

Reastie Sun 05-May-13 06:59:40

My absolute favourite shop is toto knits for children. Organic ethically made clothes. The animal cardis are the best! Everything is made by single mothers in Kenya and each piece has the makers signature on it so you can see who made it. I realise I sound like an advert there blush it's just I think their stuff is so lovely and so much nicer than children's stuff on the high street.

TooMuchRain Sun 05-May-13 10:25:58

interesting article about this from the Guardian which includes info about the Bangladesh fire and safety agreement - this is only one country I know, but persuading our favourite retailers to sign up would mean we could more confident about their ethical practices

If you want to dress ethically but don't have the disposable income to buy comparatively 'expensive' clothes you can always make your own or clothes swap/Swish/buy second hand.

You don't need to shop in Primark.

ppeatfruit Sun 05-May-13 12:26:14

Yes that's very interesting thanks*TooMuchRain*. Has anyone got replies to tweets to the companies I wonder? (i'm not on twitter).

girliefriend Sun 05-May-13 13:42:44

Sorry quite late to this thread but this is something I have been thinking about since the bangladesh disaster, I have noticed that pretty much all our clothes are made there and have been feeling guilty about it.

I am shocked though that companies such as John lewis score so low on the ethical trading list (page 2) I really would have thought better of them. Also if something is sold as fair trade and organic - such as some of Sainsburys TU range how can it then also be be scored so low confused ?

Also sadly as a single parent on a low income my choices are limited as I simply can't afford expensive clothes for me or my dd. I would however be up for a letter writing campaign or similar.

FrugalFashionista Sun 05-May-13 14:02:48

Organic refers how the raw material has been grown. Cotton is often grown in Africa (Egypt, Mali) or Central Asia (Uzbekistan); the sewing is often done in Southeast Asia; wholly separate processes. Organic might be good for you (regular cotton farming involves lots of resource use, including pesticide use) but the stitching can still be done in sweatshop type conditions. In fact there may be more pressure to cut short labor costs as the raw material is more expensive.

If you are concerned please do read To die for - is fashion wearing out the world? It will change the way you see your clothes.

For example - if you buy a beaded or sequined garment, it is very likely that it has involved child labor. These production steps are often done by hand (machines can break the embellishments) and outsourced to slum-living home workers. Deadlines are tight and the children in these poor (often Indian) families usually help to meet them. Foreign observers have found children as young as 5 years old helping to sew these garments confused

FrugalFashionista Sun 05-May-13 14:46:41

Is anyone interested in joining me in approaching the companies we use and asking about the ethical aspects of production?

It's simple - pick a company whose products you like, check their website for ethics/sustainability info, see whether they are ranked by (or some other consumer watchdog organization). If not or if they are low scorers, email or tweet them or contact them via FB (ask about ethical policy and commitment to paying a living wage for example). Then come back here and tell whom you nudged (and possibly later) what response you got!

I just did this for the first time and it took no more time and effort than writing a post here would have: I wrote to MiH. (Will approach some other company later.)

Anybody else interested in chipping in? grin

FrugalFashionista Sun 05-May-13 17:19:42

Okay, decided to nudge every company whose clothes I'm wearing today.
Six items (flipflops, jeans, knickers, bra, sweater, scarf). Done! The bad news: none of the companies I've endorsed with my hard-earned cash is particularly virtuous.

Only one had some coherent ethical /sustainability info on their website (good old M&S, knickers - and you have to go to their corporate site for that - I'd prefer to see the info in their e-store), and some of them (Havaianas!!!) earned the worst possible grade on sad

Nudging is easy - go here for the simplest template - Just Do It! wink Nike have apparently done something as they currently earn a 'B' score

The feedback (or lack thereof) will influence my future purchasing decisions...

* i was really interested to see in some of the links earlier that New Look tends to do quite well, whereas the really luxury brands (dior etc) are among the worst.*

I was also really shocked by this list. I don't know what to say. It pretty much makes you lose faith in humanity. So much greed and cruelty in this world.sad

Toastedteacakes it is not losing faith in humanity to my mind, for me it is being more and more uncomfortable with hugely profiteering companies that are so far removed from the workers in third world countries, who work for tiny amounts of money, suffer so much - it is the companies and their endless thirst for bigger profits that are completely without an ounce of humanity to allow such tragedies to keep happening.

Garment workers die, in factories around the globe, not just in Bangladesh.

ppeatfruit Sun 05-May-13 18:52:48

Yes good idea frugal I will do I said upthread that I've looked at Brook Bros. site and there is no mention at all of where their shirts are made (the labels say China) it's as if they've been magicked out of the air!

At least some people care Toasted but IKWYM sad angry

* TapselteerieO *
I know. I am just having one of those days.
Your posts have been eye openers for me, along with many others in this thread - so thanks to everyone who has become involved. I was already pretty well aware of these issues, but not to this degree. So surprised (or am i????) to see the higher end designers in top list. Disgusting.

And although I am not very well versed politically, i do wonder about the government's claims of an idle shirking view of where all the jobs have actually gone! Didn't many of these companies used to be based in the UK or US and actually employ workers at a legal wage?

Of course, they are all aware of this, the companies, the politicians. They rely upon the fact that the average working Joe ain't thinking about it. So I am pleased to see this issue gaining more support at ground level.

FrugalFashionista Sun 05-May-13 20:10:42

Lovely Ppet! I really believe in grassroot activity! If anyone remembers the trainer exposes and boycotts of yore, they seem have had some effect - industry standards were raised and the culprits have done some genuine improvements. Companies are nervous and consumer action can have a real effect. They are listening right now.

If you are feeling sad, disappointed or pessimistic, listen to this interview of Elizabeth Cline of 'Overdressed - Responsible shopping in the age of cheap fashion' fame - you'll get a succinct analysis of the current situation but also some reasons for cautious optimism, lots of inspiration and ideas how to change. (The transcript here and her brief essay on Bangladesh here; Her book is excellent too.)

If you'd like to do something but don't know where to start, some ideas here:
* Reconsider your relationship with fast fashion. Slow down the cycles, stop visiting stores like Zara and H&M and similar chains weekly or monthly - go back to just two or four seasons per year.
* Stop buying clothes from supermarkets. They are leaders in the race to the bottom. (Fairtrade ranges a possible exception.)
* Check the ethical / sustainability track record of brands you like - Ethical Consumer or Rankabrand can get you started.
* When you shop, ask the salespeople about the origin of the clothes and whether they carry ethical / fairtrade alternatives (Zara supposedly listen to what the customers say)
* If you want to be trendy, check whether you can do it with what you already have. Fashion is very cyclical and some themes (pastels in the spring, summer whites and nautical clothes; gothic, leather, byzantine patterns in the fall) come back nearly every year
* Mend, alter, sell or swap the clothes that you cannot or don't want to wear any more
* Stop using charity shops as a waste disposal system - we are currently donating more than they can actually deal with, a lot of it is dumped in landfills and developing countries
* Buy used clothes from eBay and charity, consignment or vintage shops
* Check some ethical clothing alternatives - many new players out there!
* Support middle-range fashion - they need your help and they tend to be the most responsible
* Do some grassroot activism - it will take only a few minutes of your time to send feedback to your favorite brands

FrugalFashionista Sun 05-May-13 20:15:55

Oh and loving everyone else's messages too - Tapselteerie's in particular - thanks all for great input, ideas and inspiration. I've been a fast fashion addict but am trying hard to change and become more responsible...

Forgetfulmog Sun 05-May-13 21:13:41

Just seen on the BBC website that the death toll from Rana Plaza has reached 600 hmm

ppeatfruit Mon 06-May-13 10:37:13

I've just signed the Avaaz. petition about this I can't link but you can get it on google they have a lot power. A good point toasted about most of the west's jobs all having gone to the lowest wage economies.

FrugalFashionista Mon 06-May-13 18:30:15

Ppeat thanks for the tip! Signed, will post a link soon!

I found a couple of great potential (and fashion-oriented!) sources for more ethical / sustainable clothes -
1. Ethics Girls - my new favorite, relatively affordable and great-looking basics that look like normal clothes iyswim wink - lots on sale!
2. Fashion Conscience has been mentioned already - UK based and if you like pattern, lots of choice.
3. Fashioning Change a startup that finds ethical alternatives to high street and designers - say you like Zara and Marc Jacobs clothes and would like to find an ethical alternative. Absolutely love this, I found a lot of great-looking things there, too bad they are US-based!
4. The Green Room on ASOS Great basics - but check the labels as criteria and claims vary.
5. The author of 'Overdressed' has a shopping directory - mostly US-based brands (J Brand! Band of Outsiders!) but Chinti & Parker and People Tree on the list.

FrugalFashionista Mon 06-May-13 18:34:10

If you have ever shopped at H&M or Gap or their sister brands please take a minute and sign the Avaaz petition.

Have nudged two brands today.

ppeatfruit Tue 07-May-13 08:15:50

Thanks for those fashion and signing the Avaaz petition (theyre amazing BTW because they have soo many followers and a lot of powergrin).

FrugalFashionista Tue 07-May-13 14:25:30

For the past few days I've examined the labels of whatever I have been wearing. I've checked the ethical and sustainability record of the companies and brands. If their websites don't address these issues, I have contacted them.

Well, I understand that in many cases customer feedback can go directly to the junk mail folder sad

But today I received feedback from one of the companies, Lily&Lionel. The scarf I asked about was made in India. Here is the reply:

"Hi Frugal
We do understand your questions over ethical issues and we are equally concerned over this matter and have always taken steps to ensure that all of our supplies are totally satisfactory in all aspects.

Our factories are visited by us and inspected on a regular basis and they are all compliant on salaries, health and safety conditions, employers benefits and age. We have been working with them all for many years and you can be assured that we are most careful on our production and only proceed with caution and constant checks.

We are currently in discussions regarding the addition to our website of ethical production matters and will be implementing this in the near future.

In the meantime, we can advise that we will never compromise on our policy standards so you can certainly feel secure in the purchase of Lily and Lionel products"

Prompted by the response (and looking forward to a much more detailed webpage), I contacted another company whose cardigan I'm wearing today.

The information and feedback I will get will definitely affect my future purchasing decisions.

It does not take very long to write these inquiries - please do join me in nudging the brands!

ppeatfruit Tue 07-May-13 15:59:42

OOh good for you fashion grin They sound like a good company what do Lily and Lionel make I've never heard of them!

ppeatfruit Tue 07-May-13 16:41:47

Interesting; i've just asked google for Brooks Bros. email adress and was categorically told they don't give it out !! hmm bizarre I wondered if you're on Twitter fashion? I'm not maybe there's another way i spose I could call their Head Office. Or actually snail mail them shock!

ppeatfruit Tue 07-May-13 17:08:16

Well I've just left a message on their FB site which is just a promotion site so hopefully it'll burst the "aren't we wonderful with our smashing new Great Gatsby look?" bubble grin.

FrugalFashionista Tue 07-May-13 17:39:02

Ppeat - or should I call you Fruit wink - I've used old-fashioned e-mail and my real (googleable) name. I tried to access my Twitter account but may have deleted it and am not active on FB. May have to start one soon.

I use the contact/ customer feedback forms on company websites. Found them for all except D&G, who gave no means of contacting them.
I interpret that as a total lack of interest in their customer base. Think my fling with Dolce is over...

ppeatfruit Tue 07-May-13 18:05:06

Congratulations on that; perhaps I should call you Frugal !! IMO the way these companies view their customers (with view to services etc.) is extremely telling. There was also a site like trip advisor giving feedback from the customers of BB and there were very few happy ones. A lot of criticism for the bad snooty service from a firm "that makes its clothes in China"

SusanaD Tue 07-May-13 19:10:48

You have to also bear in mind that some of these 'factories' if not all of them are the main source of livelihood for a vast majority of the population in some these countries. Boycotting the product may have the ripple effects of people who are just on the edge of the poverty line to slipping under it.
There should be impetus for the brands sourcing this kind of labour to urge factory owners/builders to maintain a minimum standard of operations.
Moreover, these companies should be urged to put aside funds as a part of their CSR to assist these factory owners/builders to build and maintain minimum standards so that these already deprived people are not deprived any further.
Ethical sourcing for the high street fashion industry is the next competitive edge.

FrugalFashionista Tue 07-May-13 20:05:09

Susana you are right and we are not boycotting here - instead, we are in various ways trying to ask the companies to do their fair share for their subcontactors. And the flexibility of subcontracting arrangements can go both ways. If everyone starts shunning a certain company (say one of the supermarkets) and preferring their competitors who are being more responsible, the laborers can start working for the company that gets our business.

Personally, I will prefer companies that can show me that they are doing something. Quite a few companies are already aware that they are being watched and that the race to the bottom cannot continue.

I'm also thinking of checking out the big etailers I use and nudging them. ASOS have the Green Room and Atterley Road are stocking People Tree and Yoox have had Livia Firth's special range. I'd like to find these options at Matches, NAP and Outnet too.

Dear big clothing companies, I'm not interested in the cheap tat you are currently pushing. I just want a shortsleeved scoop-necked, slightly fitted but not too clingy white or cream t shirt, size M, made from 100% fairtrade non-Uzbek cotton, made by people who have been paid a living wage. I just want the shirt - not the blood, sweat and tear stains. I will pay for it, but are currently not offering this basic staple.

FrugalFashionista Tue 07-May-13 20:24:12

Fruit I used to be a Fashionista but am trying to become more and more Frugal wink

Thanks for the paper and pencil idea, that might actually be a good way of contacting high-end/luxury companies who don't want to hear from us. Mulberry (who are easy to contact) have a CSR page that is a bit sparse in detail (the labor part is missing - are their bags made by elves?) and Gucci have done a sustainable bag<why did they have to pick brownish burgundy> - the many other of the traditional big names seem to be missing the boat. Young emerging designers are often very eager to find domestic manufacturers and more traceable supply chains, so there is hope...

timetogrowup Tue 07-May-13 20:30:08

To go back to the OP, I think anything second hand is good, M & S have various fair trade articles (though I think the label refers to the cotton rather than the garment).
People Tree are ethically (and expensively) sourced as are Bishopston Trading still going after 28 years at more reasonable prices.

More here

I have no commercial connection with any of these companies.

timetogrowup Tue 07-May-13 20:31:53

....and made in UK should be a good sign of ethically produced too. smile

sleepdodger Tue 07-May-13 21:13:17

I have read this whole thread with interest, as I stated from the outset I have direct experience with working with/ in factories
I completely agree with much of what I written and the direction most people on this thread want to move in however there are a couple of points I do want to reiterate as a misconception
1- cheap does not always mean bad; supermarkets are very different to primark, new look has a pretty stringent code of conduct, m&s, next etc lead the way in developing factories and encouraging others to follow. Fair trade sold cheaply is at cost to retailers not shop floor workers. In same way expensive does not mean good automatically.
2- uk production is not a by-word for quality standards hmm

Did you know it's not law to put country of origin on label shock most uk retailers do, question those who don't

timetogrowup Wed 08-May-13 08:26:44

Yep, there's no intrinsic link between quality and ethically produced.

FrugalFashionista Wed 08-May-13 09:38:24

Another reply - from the inquiry I sent out yesterday to Repeat Cashmere.

"Dear Ms Frugal
Thank you for your email. I would like to give you some more information about the production of our products.

Where does Cashmere come from?
The material is from the Cashmere goat.They live in the free environment of Mongolia.
The goat has the most precious wool when the weather is extremely cold. This can drop to a temperature of -30 ° C.

How is Cashmere produced?
In spring, the nomads comb the winter coat of the goat by hand. The goats will be shorn in the spring. In the winter they create a good coat, and it goes off in the spring. When the wool is off, the hair will be stripped of pieces of wood and stones. Then the hair will be sorted by color. Before the yarn will be made, the hair is colored. The production of the clothes is in China where we have our own production location.

Animal welfare is very important to REPEAT. We only work with large, reputable wool and cashmere suppliers to ensure that the wool and cashmere are durable and humanly obtained. Our suppliers frequently visit the farms where they buy the wool and cashmere to ensure that our high standard of quality and animal welfare will be followed.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us."

I appreciate all the answers I get from companies, but consumers are not stupid - this simply wasn't enough for me. The company did not really answer my questions. I specified in my message that I'm asking about a 100% merino cardigan (merino wool is often from Australia or NZ). I also told that was interested in raw material sourcing, fairtrade practices and labor conditions.

The global huge demand for cashmere has resulted in overherding of cashmere goats in Mongolia. Cultivating cashmere goats in the Gobi desert in Mongolia is an ongoing ecological disaster - the goat herds damage the fragile ecosystem: they destroy the sparse vegetation that is needed to keep the sand in place, and as a result the desert is rapidly expanding every year. The loose sand clouds pollute the atmosphere and no, it's not just a local issue: the huge sand clouds cross the Pacific and worsen air quality in the US West Coast shock Microparticle air pollution has been shown to increase deaths - I found a study that said that up to 10% of deaths in Mongolia are attributable to air pollution (it affects us too, increasing the risk of heart and lung diseases).

The huge demand for cashmere is also connected with all kinds of shady practices among the fiber suppliers - in fiber analysis, a sweater labeled 100% cashmere contained a significant amount (over 10%) of other materials - regular wool, unidentifiable fibers and rabbit fur confused

Merino wool is not completely ecologically sound either (massive wool production may be associated with desertification Argentina. I guess that's where the 1990s bright, cheap and durable Benetton sweaters I wore for a decade came from sad Overall, wool is much more sustainable than cashmere. So if you can choose, buy wool, not cashmere.

ppeatfruit Wed 08-May-13 10:03:57

sleepdodgerThat's very interesting.i wonder as you're in the business if you know what the manufacturers put on their clothes to create the strong chemical\type smell that you get in some fashion shops? It makes my eyes stream.

ppeatfruit Wed 08-May-13 10:10:19

frugal i wonder if more vegetation could be grown to specifically stop desertification? If you think about it that dust happens when there's a drought in all the monocrop vast fields created for the effing machines; our world is in a state and it just seems that everything is down to the bottom line sad

FrugalFashionista Wed 08-May-13 10:42:20

Fruit formaldehyde is a common fabric finisher, especially common in no-iron stuff. Pungent smell.

The more I read the murkier apparel production seems... sad

I've lived in deserts and semi-deserts in the past and judging by the sand raining on my terrace, Central Italy is just a suburb of Sahara. Reversing desertification and reforestation is a complex process. You need to replant, but to do that you need water (in a desert), energy, labor and political will. In practice soil erosion is often irreversible. Mediterranean countries have lots of landscapes devastated by overgrazing (sheep and goat farming), Iceland (no trees!) is a post-ecocatastrophe landscape as well. Jared Diamond has written an excellent book (Collapse) on how ecological disasters have destroyed human cultures and communities in the past. Sobering reading.

Seeing huge soy monocultures in a semi-desert in Brazil put me off soy for the rest of my life. Zero biological diversity sad

DigWeedSow Wed 08-May-13 11:07:28

The factories are just the tip of the iceberg aren't they? I remember seeing a youtube video about a town in China where the main industry was the dying of textiles. All of the chemical waste from the dying process was pumped straight out to sea.

On a lighter note I have been looking for some basic vests and have always found Uniqlo to be of a good quality. On their site they have a whole section dedicated to CSR I haven't had chance to read through it all yet as there is a lot of info on there however it makes a nice change for a company to volunteer to information.

ppeatfruit Wed 08-May-13 11:10:24

Yes formaldehyde, its disgusting no wonder those clothes workers in the pic. were wearing masks!

Those were the words I was looking for "soil erosion" thanks frugal You'd need water to replant a desert so it would have to be done in the rainy season I suppose.

I do have soya but only organically, non gm and locally grown (in France we live between here and U.K.) also Alpro in Belgium are good producers of it (I hope).

It seems that humans have always depleted the world which is comforting and also depressing isn't it?

FrugalFashionista Wed 08-May-13 11:34:33

Despite all these awfulness (sorry if I've been piling it on - and there is lots more - cotton and leather are very serious environmental risks too) I'm optimistic and believe in resiliency and change, starting with small baby steps.

This may be naive on my part but I believe in knowledge and openness.
When we know better what is going on, we may take action and some things will change as a result.

To me, these types of threads are a new phenomenom on S&B.
We used to just buy in bulk <sigh> and compare notes on lipsticks wink
Very impressed that so many people recently have started these questioning, different threads and also small and big changes in their lives... <inspired and motivated>

FrugalFashionista Wed 08-May-13 11:42:00

Apologize for substandard syntax - touchscreen isn't my medium...

ppeatfruit Wed 08-May-13 11:53:32

Talking about sand raining its doing that here; my car was covered in sand yesterday and it hardly rained, maybe it rained at night!

ppeatfruit Wed 08-May-13 11:54:32

I live in the centre westish not the south BTW!

FrugalFashionista Wed 08-May-13 11:57:58

Oh and got a long and thoughtful reply from MiH Jeans, will share it if anyone is interested but - bottom line, smaller companies seem to care, and as a customer I really respect that.

Companies are definitely listening and responding!
Ladies do join me in contacting them (I can share my letter template if you are interested)!

<taking off activist propeller hat and having some lunch>

EthicalDresser Wed 08-May-13 12:33:03

Like one of the posters above I also work in this area and have been so fascinated by this discussion thread that I've joined MN specially! Really good to know that people are interested (can feel a bit despairing sometimes when all retailers say customers are interested in is price).

It is really hard to find out what's ethical and what's not ethical, even for people like me who work in it and think about it a lot.

Just wanted to highlight the Ethical Fashion Forum which you may not have heard about as it's industry rather than consumer facing but has heaps of interesting and useful info on both dedicated ethical fashion brands and mainstream brands.

Also for husbands/partners there's - proper smart shirts.

FrugalFashionista Wed 08-May-13 13:36:46

Ethicaldresser welcome to MN and thanks for the link - it looks very interesting! <will read more later>
Very happy to hear that these issues are important to industry insiders! As consumers, more and more of us are waking up. There is definitely a slowly growing anti-fast fashion sentiment here.
I'd definitely prefer my daily wear without bloodstains smile

EthicalDresser Wed 08-May-13 14:05:24

Thanks for the welcome. Buy less, buy better definitely helps, though it can be a bit of an 'ouch' at the till at the time as we've all got so used to cheap things.

EthicalDresser Wed 08-May-13 14:06:09

Sorry for double posting, just wanted to add that of course price isn't necessarily an indicator of good working conditions mind you (as has been noted before on this thread)

ppeatfruit Thu 09-May-13 07:53:29

Yes welcome Ethical That Arthur and Henry site is lovely thanks grin I love the shirts myself! DH would definitely like them!

It's nice to know that there are people like you in fashion!!

FrenchRivieraMum Thu 09-May-13 16:40:07

Part of the problem is the consumer pressure that is put on brands to keep costs down, especially when the crisis in on – not that I agree with any unethical working conditions of course!
If you are looking for a brand that has a special ethical, fair trade and ecological policy and provides good value kid’s and women’s summer clothes look here :

FrugalFashionista Fri 10-May-13 07:49:00

There is change in the air ladies! Write the companies! Ask about the origin of your clothes when shopping!

I read that the death toll in Bangladesh has exceeded 800 sad

RivieraMum and Ethical, fantastic links, keep them coming. I really love some of the items made by these emerging companies: buying lovely and unique stuff like that seems much more luxurious than so-called luxury (nowadays produced almost without exception in dubious conditions).

Have been very busy with work and social life but will catch up on writing companies over the weekend. If you want to join, check the labels, go to the company website and use the customer feedback form to ask about the sourcing of their materials, labor conditions and whether they are committed to a living wage. I'm also encouraging them to add pages to their websites where they talk more about where, how and by whom their raw materials are produced and the clothes are manufactured.

FrugalFashionista Sat 11-May-13 07:26:29

The death toll is over 1000 now sad

It seems that citizens, customers and shareholders everywhere are taking action: the Avaaz petition has been signed by 875 000 people (but H&M and GAP still aren't onboard - your signature is needed!). There have been street demonstrations and letterwriting campains, but according to NY Times, companies still think that the protests are NGO-led, not consumer-led. This is why your private consumer feedback is needed (via Twitter, the company website, or at the till). Go to the till with clothes you'd like to buy, and if you don't get satisfactory answers to questions about their fiber country of origin, manufacturing country, commitment to living wage (minimum wage in Bangladesh is 24 GBP/month) and safe workplace, leave the clothes at the till and make a U turn.

I as a private consumer, I am thoroughly fed up with having blood on my t-shirt. Buying ethical clothes from niche companies can be a interim solution, but it will not change the big picture. I'm not a member of any NGO <yet> but I want the mass retailers to change - they will have to treat their supplies better and pay them more. It's also becoming increasingly obvious that company self-monitoring policies are not enough <shopping trips to Zara and H&M on hold>

If you are really committed, consider donating the price of your next t-shirt/ going-out-top /weekend clothes shopping spree / next pair of shoes to one of the many fair labor /consumer /anti-child labor organizations. Third parties are obviously needed to assess and report what is really going on and to help the victims of unethical sourcing practices. This work, of course, has a price tag too.

ppeatfruit Sat 11-May-13 07:53:54

As if the NGO's are not made up of consumers shock The companies are going to have problems [hopefully].

ZaraW Sat 11-May-13 08:17:16

Izzy Lane make beautiful wool items from rescued sheep expensive but worth it. I have a coat I have had for years and it's still going strong though I usually buy in the sales.

FrugalFashionista Sat 11-May-13 08:44:51

Zara I visited last week and they have some beautiful things, including cashmere raised in Britain (on sale!). Local British sheep subspecies are dying out sad as wool production has been largely outsourced, but they are still raising sheep and goats in the UK. So if you like cashmere and would like to wear with a good conscience, they are a great option!

I'm including a list of organizations that people interested in supporting ethical clothes production might want to research and support financially:

War on Want - petition to sign on the front page!
Labour Behind the Label
No Sweat - Send Your Label Back initiative!
Clean Clothes Campaign
Ethical Consumer
Rank a Brand

ppeatfruit Sat 11-May-13 09:30:07

Izzy Lane is lovely i was thinking it might be nice to buy the family a cashmere sweater each for Xmas!

ZaraW Sat 11-May-13 13:39:58

FrugalFashionista I just love my coat knowing that it comes from a happy place. It's also a bit different have had loads of compliments on it.

Cashmere jumpers would be a lovely gift.

I am waiting for this scarf to go on sale

ppeatfruit Sat 11-May-13 14:26:00

ZaraW i don't know how much they are but i reckon it's worth it when you think of all the misery the people go through to make us 'wealthy" westerners a bit weathier grin

ZaraW Sun 12-May-13 13:26:44

ppeatfruit there's always they are ethical with their workers and reasonable prices. I have jumpers that have lasted 3 winters and still going strong. Not sure how ethical the treatment of the animals is though. I agree it's always worth paying more if you can guarantee the people making this stuff are paid a decent wage.

FrugalFashionista Sun 12-May-13 13:36:51

A busy weekend, lots to do, but thanks Zara and Fruit for keeping this thread alive!
I'm gradually going to explore ethical clothes - but has anyone found good quality ethical underwear?

ppeatfruit Sun 12-May-13 16:31:12

No Frugal I did try people tree but the pants were not nice the cotton to heavy and also the elastic a bit hmm I wear M & S underwear and bras because I've never found any to fit me anywhere else ( I hate underwired bras) they're better than some aren't they ?

have you had any more reactions from the companies?

chartreuse Sun 12-May-13 16:47:00

Wouldn't this make a great Mumsnet campaign? Given that most garment workers are women and I'd wager that almost every MNer has (unwittingly perhaps) at least one item in her wardrobe that was made in dubious conditions.

I think it would be great to harness the power of MN to convince the high street retailers that this is something that they need to take seriously.

FrugalFashionista Sun 12-May-13 17:40:14

Chartreuse I would think so!

Fruit response rate about 40%, better than I expected. Smaller brands are more diligent about customer concerns and customer feedback - good to know wink I'm writing to companies whose clothes I'm currently wearing, but have been so busy that have basically worn the same outfit for several days.

I want to write a couple of big etailers and some luxury companies, but it has been a busy weekend, and this week is a nightmare of work deadlines and travel, so will probably get round to it next weekend. But I managed to finish 'To die for' and warmly recommend it to anyone even remotely interested in how our clothes and shoes are actually made. I'd also love to see the Gucci vegetable tanned leather bag irl (sounds like a trivial thing but luxury companies seem to be the most resistant to change), doubt they will have it in the airport boutique, but will go and ask for it anyway.

FrugalFashionista Sun 12-May-13 18:04:56

You just inspired me to write one more letter.

Non-responders so far: Havaianas, 7 For All Mankind, Calvin Klein Underwear (=a licensee of the global giant Warnaco), Peter Hahn (a German mail order company). Shame on you!

I have found in the past week that of about 1/3 of what I wear, sufficient and detailed ethical /CSR info is available online. Today, I'm wearing a Filippa K sweater and they have an extremely detailed CSR report (albeit from 2011). H&M and Bestseller (host company of Vila, Selected, Vero Moda, Pieces, Mamalicious, Name It), Lindex all have quite detailed websites, which I appreciate.

The rest falls in two categories: about 1/3 don't have any information but are quick to respond back, give detailed sourcing info and say that they are in the process of making it available online soon (for example, MiH Jeans, Lily&Lionel). And 1/3 are totally silent, both on their website and via their customer service.

FrugalFashionista Sun 12-May-13 19:35:16

Found the momentum to write to two big etailers, Matches and NAP.
I'd like them to have something similar to the ASOS Green Room.
Waiting their response / nonresponse with interest.

chartreuse Sun 12-May-13 20:58:32

frugal you mentioned before that you might post a template letter that you have used. Would you mind doing that? I think more people might find the time to send off emails if they don't have to sit down and compose a letter which could possibly be one of those things that gets pushed to the bottom of the "to do" list.

Thanks smile

FrugalFashionista Sun 12-May-13 21:50:01

Chartreuse my letter template here - feel free to use and adapt it! Nobody wants to receive bulk mailings, so I customize it for every company, often talking briefly about their product. I only contact companies whose customer I already am.

My message to e-tailers here.

And finally, the thoughtful response from MiH Jeans here. It shows how complex clothing manufacturing is these days, even for relatively small and specialized companies.

radicalradish Mon 13-May-13 07:27:44

Well done ladies. I dread to see the look on some of their faces when they read that letter FrugalF. I love it when consumers vote with their feet.

FrugalFashionista Mon 13-May-13 07:52:14

If anyone wants to join, contact one or more of the companies whose clothes you are wearing today. It is a small act of consumer rebellion - it will take just minutes of your time - and when you get thoughtful answers, some clothes you are wearing will feel even nicer.

I'm definitely reaching more for the clothes in my wardrobe whose background I have checked grin

ppeatfruit Mon 13-May-13 10:41:55

Frugal you are amazing grin I've just messaged John Lewis they do have a very good socially aware policy actually they say they give 'guidelines' to their manufacturers but that isn't quite the same as actually going to visit them is it? I left my email address and we'll see if I get a personal reply.

ZaraW Mon 13-May-13 10:46:51

Thanks frugal I will definitely write to some of the manufacturers whose clothese I wear. I tend to buy from J Crew a lot and I researched they aren't so great. See what they have to say.

FrugalFashionista Mon 13-May-13 11:25:06

Fantastic ladies! I've written to three companies this morning and ordered an oatmeal sleeveless Izzy Lane cashmere top <power shopper> that sounds like an ideal solution to some of my under-the-jacket top problems. Guiltless cashmere - love!!! Counting on cashmere being just right in the North in July-Aug <weeps>

And thanks so much for joining the customer feedback initiative! We'll be able to reach a wider variety of companies this way!

ppeatfruit Mon 13-May-13 11:37:23

It seems that Tescos and Sainsburys are among the main culprits when it comes to pushing down prices for their clothes. You can sort of tell when you go in there (I have always boycotted Tescos anyway). I saw that when googled Tescos factories.

chartreuse Mon 13-May-13 17:15:15

Thanks for that frugal, I am having a crazy day today so just catching up now. I am aiming to write one or two emails a day. It would be great to get more people on board with this. Often we can feel powerless in the face of big corporations, but they are so careful to guard their reputations so that gives us a bit of leverage. I was so disgusted to read the low ranking of high end brands in particular, I would love to hear how they justify themselves.

FrugalFashionista Mon 13-May-13 22:28:07

Thanks Chartreuse, sounds great, share your responses if you get any! <morale boost>

Fruit I've been unpleasantly surprised with supermarket pricing and labor practices, will avoid buying clothes from them. If it is a steal, it actually is a steal sad

ZaraW Tue 14-May-13 06:35:35

Nice top frugal just the thing for the British Summer ;)

I had a look at J Crew website and they were giving themselves a pat on the back on how "ethical" they think they are. However, looking on peta
I am far than impressed. Have written to them through this link but I won't be buying from them until they change their policy on the treatment of the sheep.

FrugalFashionista Tue 14-May-13 08:41:50

Zara thanks for the info! I checked the J.Crew strike too and it is better to most (at this stage, I continue puchasing from such companies) but a bit quiet on minimum wages. Mulesing sheep is a thorny issue, read this for pros and cons, 'To Die For' also has a chapter. It's good to know that most of the wool we buy these days is Aussie merino (about 2/3 of all exported wool comes from there; other leading producers: NZ, China - stats here), so this decision will influence all the rest of your wool buying too. Country of fiber origin is very difficult to track ime - the companies often don't seem to know it either.

The more I read the background materials, the more depressing facts emerge. Cotton and cashmere are ecological disasters; textile dyeing a very dirty business; and leather production may be the worst offender of all (rainforests are burned in Brazil to raise cattle - almost 25% of cowhides produced in the world come fom there and half of it goes to footwear production - stats here). We don't usually make the connection between buttery soft bikers and deforestation and global warming, but sadly these two processes are directly linked sad And leather tanning seems the worst business of all, literally poisoning soil and water in extremely deprived communities. I have no ready answers - but these seem to be the cold, hard facts sad

FrugalFashionista Tue 14-May-13 08:43:18

Site not strike <Freudian slip>

ZaraW Tue 14-May-13 09:12:20

Frugal thanks for the link, interesting wouldn't it be great if the tea tree oil would be used instead of this?

Like you the more I think about this the more I become depressed. It's easy enough to buy clothes ethically where the treatment of people are concerned but then the ethics of how materials sourced, produced is a different story.

I need to start saving and buy from Izzy Lane on a regular basis...........

ppeatfruit Tue 14-May-13 09:45:39

chartreuse Sorry I didn't say before but this would be a very good subject for a MN campaign. On a thread about being frugal they are talking about buying their clothes from supermarkets as being a GOOD idea shock so many people have no idea or don't care.

Frugal the production of leather always has been and is a revolting business.Near to us (in France) is a town which was purpose built in 1642 and is exactly as it was with its wall etc. and in its story they talk about butchers and leathermakers being placed on the side of the town where the wind won't blow the smell across the town.

FrugalFashionista Tue 14-May-13 11:49:42

Ladies things are happening!!! - more analysis here.

But it's the moment for consumer action right now <excited to be a tiny part of it>

Bah, have actually worked all morning grin, still lots to do, so no time to comment, but keep up the good work and bbl!

ppeatfruit Tue 14-May-13 12:15:28

Well at last but they've ALL got to sign up . I think there should be a global govt. so NO countries are allowed to treat their work forces like that.

FrugalFashionista Tue 14-May-13 12:47:34

There is a wicked Twitter campaign going on - "will not shop at Gap until they sign - will shop at H&M instead" grin

Gap have in fact done quite a few CSR initiatives and improvements - but the problems is that is still so much room for improvement (safety, wages, unions among the most important). The race to the bottom is the real problem, and most of us have contributed to that in a way or another. But yes, it's a good time to give them customer feedback (they also own Banana Republic and Old Navy).

Fruit yes I see your tannery and raise you a landfill/artificial mountain dating from Antiquity (then discarded olive oil clay amphorae still there - you'd think they were more biodegradable!).

DigWeedSow Tue 14-May-13 13:01:40

Great to see changes happening, hopefully this will be the tipping point and conditions will begin to improve.
For those interested in ethics of using animals within the fashion industry the documentary Earthlings is one of the most powerful and moving films that I have ever seen.

EthicalDresser Tue 14-May-13 15:28:53

This thread continues to be brilliant. Sorry for posting and running the other day, real life got a bit busy.

I think a Mumsnet campaign would be fantastic. Would really tell the retailers, who really are still only held to account re their financial bottom line, that there are concerned consumers. Would need to have some very clear and precise 'asks' though. Otherwise will just get back 'well we inspect' and we've all now see how well that works out.

ppeatfruit Fri 17-May-13 09:51:06

I've just signed the War on Want petition to 'push' GAP and Asda who are holding out from signing with nearly ALL the giant firms to make sure the buildings are properly maintained and built. so there is positive action grin

Forgetfulmog Fri 17-May-13 13:12:05

Apologies if this has already been posted (I did have a skim read, but couldn't see it on this thread), but just been on the fatface website & it says this:

"Since the company started in 1988, we have been working closely with our suppliers, and aim to ensure all factory workers are treated fairly. To this end, we issued a Code of Conduct, based on the Ethical Trading Initiative Base Code, and every factory must be able to demonstrate compliance to this when requested. This code covers areas such as child labour, discrimination, working hours, discipline practices, freedom of association and health and safety.

However, we want to do more than this. To make a real difference, we are embarking on major projects, in partnership with key suppliers and other organisations, to deliver real and sustainable improvements to the lives of these people. As this evolves, we will share this information with you on this website."

It all seems a bit airy fairy so have emailed them using the template (thanks frugal) & will let you know what they say!

literarygeek Fri 17-May-13 21:08:49

This is a great thread.
I always try to by ethically as far as I can but I am also frustrated by the lack of choice and transparency. And kids/nursing/maternity clothes are so hard to find.
I have had great experiences with people tree and fashion conscience.
If anyone's interested, there's a sale at ascension

literarygeek Fri 17-May-13 21:10:18


FrugalFashionista Sat 18-May-13 12:51:36

Great link Literarygeek!

Sorry about not having been very active over the past days, have been travelling. Have gotten a few new replies during my absence, one from 7 For All Mankind and one from Matches. Both are kind of... well, many companies are so far 'above' their supply chain that these types of questions are just not their forte. Maybe we should ask these questions more often? wink

I went to the Gucci shop at the airport. They didn't have the vegetable-tanned rainforest bag, and it took quite a while before the saleslady remembered that they actually had one in their collection. She said quite emphatically that she knows of the bag but they have never had it in that particular shop (and most likely never will either). Greenwashing? They are riding high on the positive press but the actual item is N/A.

I also had friendly discussion about sustainable fibers with the COS checkout girl (bought a silk-cotton scarf there). She explained that polyester has been very popular among vendors because it's so great for printing (bright colors, no fading), and prints are very fashionable right now. Her personal preferred fiber was lyocell (she found cotton problematic, rightly so). Anyway, I enjoyed that type of talk with the girl at the till and would have liked to continue (to talk about sourcing and work conditions) but a queue was forming. But I found pleasant that a regular SA in a chain store clearly had been trained in these issues and had some information and opinions!

Have you noticed that 'Made in China' is almost a luxury these days? When I have scanned the labels of things I own, among the higher-end items, the better made, more complex or detail-oriented are almost always made in China. Salaries there have risen so much that uncomplicated sewing tasks are being done elsewhere. 'To die for' also talks about Chinese suppliers doing the outsourcing - they are increasingly having the very dirty, labor-intensive phases done in Africa or dirt-poor Asian countries.

FrugalFashionista Sat 18-May-13 13:11:18

Have just sent feedback to People Tree, inspired by the 'Do more plain basics' plea started by YoniTime (I think) on the Frugal thread. Their current offerings are all about prints and very girly and romantic. I don't need another print tee or frilly dress but would buy half a dozen of plain white/cream/navy black tees and vests, and probably repeat purchase regularly, as these items just get so much wear.

ppeatfruit Sat 18-May-13 14:39:04

Right folks this is a first for me!! I read an extremely interesting article in the International Herald Tribune that tells it all nearly.

FrugalFashionista Sat 18-May-13 15:48:14

Thanks, relinking your link to the excellent outsourcing article from IHT Fruit!

I'm stymied - is this what the clothing companies think we are asking for? Outsourcing yet to another country? Rebuilding infrastructure someplace else and leaving already trained people in Bangladesh high and dry and desperate for jobs?

Dear 7FAM and others, I would like to buy 'Made in Bangladesh' clothes from a company that is committed to its subcontractors and takes care of them. Yes, we've messed up, but couldn't we have the decency to help a bit in the clean-up too?

ppeatfruit Sat 18-May-13 16:19:20

Yes it effing upset me as well frugal esp. the bit about chopping down rain forest to build factories in Indonesia; doesn't the living world mean anything to these people? sad angry

ppeatfruit Sat 18-May-13 16:21:59

So we have Mr. Model to thank for beginning the race to the bottom where will it end? (I'll answer that) with no world that's where.

FrugalFashionista Sat 18-May-13 16:40:19

I'm increasingly disillusioned. Companies have cut cost by shifting production to countries where profits are being made largely because environmental regulation and labor regulation are lax and favor all possible forms of exploitation. This means that we are willing to let go both of domestic jobs and the practices we have through trial and error developed to avoid sweatshops and polluted soil, air and water.

That cheap t shirt or bargainous pair of shoes has a invisible prize tag. Sooner or later we will have to pay the outstanding balance sad

ppeatfruit Sat 18-May-13 17:18:04

Yes as you can tell Iam too but I've said for many years that nothing is REALLY cheap (unless you grow veg. and flowers from seed in your own garden I suppose grin) there aren't many people who seem to care either. I totally agree about the invisible price tag.

ppeatfruit Sat 18-May-13 17:22:24

Thank for linking properly BTW! frugal

Allthingspretty Sun 19-May-13 09:45:02

Lauren Laverne's fashion column addresses the issue

Shamr they don't give her more words for her column as she sems very constrained by the small word count

FrugalFashionista Mon 20-May-13 17:43:52

Thanks Allthingspretty!

NY Times keeps covering the Bangladeshi aftermath but today's story is really strange. Anyhow, it seems, direct customer feedback to the stores' websites has some real influence!

FrugalFashionista Mon 20-May-13 17:56:28

Another much more focused article from today's NY Times - EU and UN involvement might help too. If anyone knows how to get politicians involved, please let me know grin

Forgetfulmog Tue 21-May-13 07:02:58

Just had a response back from the email I sent fatface:

"Many thanks for your email regarding our trading policies.

Our items are sourced from various parts of the world, Far east ( china), India, and Europe. Which is the same as most other retailers on the high street.

Since the company started in 1988, we have been working closely with our suppliers, and aim to ensure all factory workers are treated fairly. To this end, we issued a Code of Conduct, based on the Ethical Trading Initiative Base Code, and every factory must be able to demonstrate compliance to this when requested. This code covers areas such as child labour, discrimination, working hours, discipline practices, freedom of association and health and safety.

We can see what workers earn through Sedex. We want to make sure workers get a living wage, not just minimum wage. Sadly, I can't honestly tell you precisely what the average worker gets paid at present I’m afraid.

With all of the above, though it's clearly not prefect, with SEDEX and ETI, we can make some real improvements to the lives of the people who
make our products. You can find loads of information at

If you need anything else, just let me know, and I'll do my best to help. I hope this has gone some way to reassuring you!

Kind Regards"

ppeatfruit Tue 21-May-13 09:03:20

I've just signed another petition by Avaaz to push GAP into signing with the other big companies. They have a lot of clout.

MrsRadicchio Tue 21-May-13 09:19:25

I have emailed a few places too - Sam Edelman, Clarks, Fit Flop and Dr Martens (bit of a mixed bunch). Waiting on replies but will post if I get any. DM and Clarks did have some info on their website, the problem I find is it is hard to decipher how meaningful it really is.

Interesting response by FatFace - it all seems a bit wishy washy. Hopefully emails like we are sending will prompt more scrutiny.

MrsRadicchio Tue 21-May-13 09:21:08

Just read the NY times article Frugal linked to.

This worries me:
"Even companies with the best intentions can’t guarantee the well-being of workers in a slippery, writhing global supply chain, with layers of temporary subcontractors."

Forgetfulmog Tue 21-May-13 09:29:33

Mrsrad, yes it is a little, but I was quite impressed by the tone tbh. It really did seem like the person who replied (I removed her name for security) was trying her best to answer. I haven't responded to her yet but will do.

I don't think we're going to get any straightforward answers but at least the info is getting out there.

On a separate note, I am just amazed at how few people have heard about the Rana Plaza collapse - it was on the bbc website for weeks, but many people I've spoken to haven't heard about it, nor do they care when I tell them confused

MrsRadicchio Tue 21-May-13 09:36:16

Forgetful - yes, I agree it seems like a considered response, she was trying to answer your question and bering honest with it. Just worrying that there is such a long supply chain that the companies just don't know what is going on and can choose to turn a blind eye to it.

Forgetfulmog Tue 21-May-13 09:44:36

Out of sight out of mind though isn't it? There's just no responsibility anymore anywhere, which is just a shame

ppeatfruit Tue 21-May-13 12:55:56

IMO there should be specific members of each company who are employed solely to 'trace' the supply chains and physically travel to the countries to check on everything that pertains to the companies' products. As I'm typing this I'm thinking that would be a huge undertaking which is obviously why they don't do it!

FrugalFashionista Tue 21-May-13 20:47:46

Fantastic Forgetful and MrsR! So glad you are doing this thanks
I've been super busy with work but have started reading a great book - Where I Am Wearing.
An American guy takes grassroots activism a notch further and visits the countries from where his clothes come. He's an anthropology major /surf bum (from Ohio! grin ) and writes in an endearingly simple, plain and honest way about the people he meets and the questions he does and does not ask.

Another small thing - I needed a new sun hat (the old one literally crumbled to pieces) as I'm battling pigment spots - I resisted high street and street vendor options and found a really nice fairtrade panama from Pachacuti. Can recommend!

I got a friendly answer from People Tree too. Not the same as yours, I was a bit more specific, they are straddling the difficult terrain between offering variety and trends and trying to provide basics (I'm sure other people have asked why ethical fashion has to be so plain).

Forgetfulmog Tue 21-May-13 20:59:30

Thanks frugal for the email template!

I'm going to try Freya & Panache tomorrow - I'm currently bf & wearing Panache bras, but pre-preg I wore Freya - only have a 28" back so very few bra brands fit hmm

Forgetfulmog Wed 22-May-13 08:55:51

My response to Fat Face:

"Thank you for your prompt and in depth reply; I appreciate you taking your time to be so concise.

I wonder if you would mind forwarding my original email to senior management though? I think it important that clothing companies are aware that consumers do want to buy clothes that are more ethically produced, especially in light of the Bangladesh crisis.

From your email I appreciate that your company is trying to ensure workers are treated fairly, but I do think that more can be done (and all clothing companies need to share this responsibility).

Thank you again and, as I said, I would appreciate you making senior management aware of my email."

Freya & Panache have no info at all on their websites about Ethical Policies confused Have sent them both emails today. I am not expecting good replies from them though hmm

FrugalFashionista Wed 22-May-13 17:45:14

Fantastic Forgetful!
I've read 'Where are you wearing' and it's fascinating - it tackles com

FrugalFashionista Wed 22-May-13 17:52:21

Sorry <touch screen fail>, complex economic issues via letting you share a meal/day/outing with garment workers from different countries, and helping to understand what the real issues are. Bottom line: the wages in Bangladesh are not living wages and few garment workers gain any long-term benefit from their involvement with the trade. Rural poverty is the driving force and the employees are meek, docile women who have few alternatives. Often making ends meet and feeding one's family is still difficult despite very long hours - hunger is not uncommon.

FrugalFashionista Thu 23-May-13 08:06:29

Saw links to two ethical alternatives elsewhere on S&B, converse-lookalikes and scarves!

MrsRadicchio Thu 23-May-13 22:12:02

Got a couple of replies (epic post alert!)

Fitflop -

" Where are your fabrics and shoes made?
Our shoes are made in Vietnam, China & Thailand.
We source fabrics from all over the world, however for sustainability reasons, we aim to use local fabrics wherever possible.

Do you have a company ethical policy regarding how you source the fibres used and how the people who make the shoes are treated?
Yes, FitFlop has a code of conduct which must be followed by all of our business partners, and their suppliers. Briefly this details:-
- Excellence in every aspect of our business in every corner of the world;
- Ethical and responsible conduct in all of our operations;
- Respect for the rights of all individuals; and
- Respect for the environment.
Members of FitFlop staff are constantly visiting all of our factories and are our eyes and ears, looking for any breaches in this respect and in the 7 years we have never encountered any issue or concern.

Are you committed to paying the workers a living wage?
Yes, our code of conduct states that workers will be paid at least the minimum legal wage or a wage that is consistent with local industry standards, whichever is the greater. In any event, wages should always be enough to meet basic needs and to provide some discretionary income.

Do you have plans to use organic and/ or fair-trade fibres?
Yes, as an innovative, forward thinking company, we are always looking for new ideas to improve our products, and to lessen our impact on the environment. This is something that we review each season and will consider if we think is suitable. We have recently recruited and made a new job role within the business to ensure this.

We will look into having this information on our website and I have asked the necessary team to look into this, please keep your suggestions coming an we will keep you updated with our progress. "

Dr Martens - just pointed me to the social responsibility part of their website. I asked about a couple of specific shoes and they told me where they were made.

Still find it all a bit wishy washy, like they know the spiel to give.

The book you are reading sounds interesting Frugal.

Nancy Dee another ethical clothing website, a few basics included!

FrugalFashionista Fri 24-May-13 07:56:21

Excellent Mrsradicchio! Minimum wage is not a living wage in most countries, most garment workers support large families either locally or back in their villages and food prices have risen. Issues like mass faintings may imply that many workers are very hungry during their long shifts.

The more I'm reading, the more I'm convinced that tve self-monitoring by the companies just isn't enough. Cambodia has had a lot of 3rd party involvement via ILO and that has helped. But our economic slumps and boycotts can be devastating - factories close, garment workers lose their jobs and have to find other work (often much less desirable options). A complex issue, but our pushing the prices down and too fast cycles seem to drive the worst forms of exploitation. Asking questions and preferring companies who are really working on CSR is a way to say that we stand for change.

I've bought my pajamas for a decade from this small company that does all the sewing in the US. Great quality, they are still great after up to 10 years of intensive wear.

ppeatfruit Fri 24-May-13 09:54:22

But Fitflop are actually positive and are addressing the issue which is better than most of them! I googled Auchan (which is a large Sainsburys type supermarket here (Fr.) and they talk about being signed up to FDS which is also better than nothing. Monoprix didn't mention anything but they do have organic cotton clothes sometimes as do Auchan and Intermarche.

FrugalFashionista Fri 24-May-13 12:10:14

My Izzy Lane British cashmere top arrived and I absolutely love it - new favorite item!

I instintively reach now for the clothes that I've background-checked. Loving my new ethical items!

FrugalFashionista Thu 30-May-13 22:56:08

I'm very happy NY Times still follows what is going on in Bangladesh.

Harrisonsnanna Mon 17-Jun-13 11:10:28

I am a nanna to a ten month old Grandson and have 2 daughters both grown up, I have always been a hands on mum and tried to instil in my daughters the ethical issues of buying from companies who do not treat their workers well. as part of this I am also very interested in the issues of workers welfare. When I heard about this factory collapsing I was very shocked, at the moment I am studying fashion and textiles and I am very interested in the issues around the sustainability of textiles and the chain of clothing manufacture and purchase. I think it is time that as a society we stopped looking at the volume of clothes we think we need and look to the long term use of clothes, for example quality over cheep. I know these clothes are more expensive and yes children grow so quickly but good quality clothes mean good value and good quality second hand clothes and hand me downs. Fashion for young children should not really be an issue as they should be more interested in getting mucky and playing not how good they look in the latest fashion. I know we all like our children to look rosy cheeked and clean and well dressed, I am not saying they shouldn't be, but do they need so many items of clothing.
please as a nation we have a voice and together we can stand and make a difference it wont happen over night but it can happen if everyone demands the quality and for a fare wage for the worker.

BridgeMix Sun 28-Jul-13 10:45:28

Bumping this. Would LOVE to see mumsnet harness its power to encourage companies to promote transparency in such a complex issue.

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