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AIBU to want to know who makes my clothes?

(66 Posts)
Kabex Tue 31-Oct-17 09:26:31

As the title suggests really, who is making the clothes in the shops? Where are they made? What are they made from? What chemicals have they been treated with?
There is almost no way to find the answers to these questions.
Does anyone else care?

Booboobooboo84 Tue 31-Oct-17 09:29:49

Search for the rana plaza documentary it will answer a lot of your questions. But just about every zip manufactured in the world is made by a modern day slave

Anatidae Tue 31-Oct-17 09:33:45

Yes I care.

Labelling needs to be more transparent.

I make a lot of what the toddler wears myself and try to use ethical fabric. Obviously there’s stuff I can’t make and for that I try to go ethical where I can (kavat shoes for example.) winter outergear I do my best but there’s little transparency on lots of stuff.

There are more ethical sources of clothing - some places are dire. Not everywhere is a sweatshop though - some places are one of the best sources of employment and thus freedom for women who would otherwise not have had it.

There needs to be much stricter labelling.

Kabex Tue 31-Oct-17 09:34:57

That astonishes me. Is there anyone working on it to change the system?

Kabex Tue 31-Oct-17 09:37:32

@Anatidae I think making your own is the best option at the moment, I can't think of another alternative. How do you know if the companies are using sweatshops or decent conditions for the workers?

Booboobooboo84 Tue 31-Oct-17 09:41:45

About the zips I’m not sure but whomademyclothes is an annual social media event aimed at highlighting how little we know.

I went to a lecture with the fashion revolution woman and one thing that stuck with me is her saying you have to think about how companies can make clothes so cheaply. If it’s highly detailed and low priced then someone is getting screwed over.

That’s why I won’t buy any of the highly embroidered pieces that are out at the minute even though they are gorgeous because I can embroidery and even with a digital machine I could do it as cheaply as they are being sold for. So someone somewhere must be getting screwed for it

TheEmojiFormerlyKnownAsPrince Tue 31-Oct-17 09:44:10

It should say on the care label where they have been made. It's not a legal requirement, but it should say it. Whatever the likes of Primark say, they cannot produce clothes at that price without using sweatshops. They will probably have some decent factories for people to look round thereby paying lip service to any ethical concerns, but the majority of the ones people don't see will be sweatshops.

Most retailers have an ethical policy on their websites. Some don't bother.

All fabrics require loads of processing, cotton is the most polluting of all in terms of processing and bleaching. I could vote for England about the different processes used to manufacture cotton.Polyester used oil, but some of it can be recycled as can any natural fibre. Viscose and are made from wood pulp and lots of chemicals. Tencel,Lyocell and modal are made in the same way, but reuse the chemicals and washing processes so are more environmentally friendly

The further the distance between retail and manufacture the more polluting the garment will be.

How do l know all this?😁I was a designer for 10 years, but now teach all this stuff. So feel free to ask away!

Booboobooboo84 Tue 31-Oct-17 09:45:29

Couldn’t do it as cheaply even. No way can a heavily embroidered shirt be made for £12

Anatidae Tue 31-Oct-17 09:46:25

Here’s a list of ethical suppliers in the uk

You’ll notice that none are cheap.

There’s an initiative called the BSCI which is trying to get larger retailers to be a bit more ethical. Of the cheaper bigger retailers Lindex are part of it (hopefully this is the English version)

The main barrier is cost. It’s more expensive for me to sew stuff than it is to buy from supermarkets in the uk. People don’t want to pay for clothing. They want cheap fast fashion and they don’t care who made it or what the impact of it is.

I no longer live in the uk and NOTHING is cheap where I am. I enjoy sewing, I enjoy knowing that what I make is ethical, and I do my best with the stuff I can’t make.

I’m sure I dont make ethical choices 100% of the time. I do what I can.

MamaOfTwos Tue 31-Oct-17 09:49:30

How do I find out about luxury handbags and where they source leather? I have a Chanel stingray bag that I'd like to know where is originated from

Anatidae Tue 31-Oct-17 09:49:56

Exactly booboo and emoji

When you make clothes, you realise how cheap ready to wear is.

Example: here’s a really simple T shirt I made for my son (still needs a bit of coverstitch action on the bands...) crap photo sorry smile

That’s an hours work. The fabric (full price, I got it in a sale as it was a slight second) is 22 quid a m.

Anything with fancy trim that’s cheap means someone is getting shafted along the process.

2beesornot2beesthatisthehoney Tue 31-Oct-17 09:52:02

Thanks @theEmojiFormerlyKnownAsPrince !
A question then, do you consider yourself ethically minded when you buy clothes? And if so do you have particular brands you go to for those reasons. Also whilst it appears all fabrics have their drawbacks regarding processing, which fabrics do you think are on balance more ethically acceptable or AIBU asking this?

AngelaTwerkel Tue 31-Oct-17 09:52:17

I also care, but I don't think many people do. Or maybe, because they don't have to see the children/indentured workers who make their clothing items they just don't think of it.

I buy my clothes from charity shops wherever possible. I cannot bring myself to shop at Primark or other low cost chain clothing stores.

PsychoPumpkin Tue 31-Oct-17 09:52:53

Anatidae, that’s fantastic!

VodkaPenne Tue 31-Oct-17 09:55:43

I’ve been round garment making factories.

I would say the vast vast majority now as ethical to some degree. Companies can’t afford the bad PR otherwise. If you were to name what companies you thought would be bad, you’d be surprised. Walmart actually have the highest ethics standards I have seen, and the factories were therefore putting extra things in place to make them Walmart compliant. (They were already compliant for lots of more expensive clothing shops!)

The staff were properly trained, properly paid for the country, the factory was organised well and had loos, breaks, breastfeeding facilities etc. along with an HR department that had things properly done with paperwork.

It didn’t look exactly pleasant work. It was sewing in a production line. It was noisy. It had high standards in terms of work ethics. But it was employing local people and helping the local economy and definitely weren’t sweat shops.

The drive forward has most definitely been customer driven in the sense that companies KNOW they have to get this right and better.

VodkaPenne Tue 31-Oct-17 09:57:18

PS this was in Bangladesh and Indonesia.

araiwa Tue 31-Oct-17 10:00:11

Its amazing how many people lose/ have no ethics when it comes to it impacting their wallet.

Consider all the work / cost that goes in to a simple tshirt- design, materials, building, equipment, staff, packaging, transport, sales costs etc and people think its reasonable to pay £1 for it in primark, asda etc

Same with a whole roasted chicken for £2 in supermarkets

AngelaTwerkel Tue 31-Oct-17 10:00:19

That's good to hear, Vodka. I've also heard things in China are improving as workers become more MC and start demanding rights.

How about further down the supply chain - the workers who process fabric, or (as mentioned upthread) zips? And other at-source roles?

TheEmojiFormerlyKnownAsPrince Tue 31-Oct-17 10:01:00

Hmm the most ethical fabric? That's quite a challenge. I would say organic cotton possibly, as it will be sustainable. But but, it should use careful organic processing, i.e. less harsh bleaches and dyes. But if l ever see a bright white sustainable cotton garment I'm a bit🤔. Because only a chlorine or peroxide bleach can reach that level of whiteness

Anatidae Tue 31-Oct-17 10:01:51

Interesting vodka

Is there any way of easily seeing which manufacturers are more compliant?

Anatidae Tue 31-Oct-17 10:02:37

Cheers psycho ;)

Anatidae Tue 31-Oct-17 10:03:50

Cotton is a tough one, because it uses shitloads of water and chemicals.

If you’re going super ethical, then wool is probably one of the better ones.

Kabex Tue 31-Oct-17 10:04:14

@Anatidae, that's a very nice jumper and a very interesting link re ethical brands. My children's clothes are actually more of a concern to me that my own. My Indian friend told me they create some blue dye using cyanide.

@Booboobooboo84 I absolutely agree that the embroidered clothes in Zara etc are far too cheap for the work that has gone into them, I often wondered about that.

@theEmojiFormerlyKnownAsPrince, why are there so many heavy/hazardous/environmentally damaging chemicals used in the fabric production? Has there been not enough research into sustainable processes or is it just not possible to do it another way? Maybe I am naive but I would have thought that pre fast fashion they had other methods?

Kabex Tue 31-Oct-17 10:06:50

@VodkaPenne Very interesting. Do you think the big brands/companies really care about changing the system for ethical reasons or do you think they only care as to not change would affect their sales/brand image?

astoundedgoat Tue 31-Oct-17 10:13:46

The problem is that consumers' appetite for cheap clothing - Primark, H&M, New Look, Asda etc - is insatiable. How on earth do we think you can buy a school uniform for less than £10?

However, it's worth remembering that the cost of living in some of the countries where the sweat shops are located is also very very low - paying enough money for a skirt that the woman at the actual sewing machine in an industrial park outside Dhaka in Bangladesh earns a fair wage with healthcare, only works 40 hours a week, has clean facilities at work and access to a fire escape surely wouldn't put Primark out of business. Wouldn't it only mean that the £12 garment becomes £20? It doesn't have to mean that we all pay £100 for our knickers.

Also how much would it actually cost to use British manufacturing more?

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