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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?

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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.

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