Dispatches – Fashion’s Dirty Secret
On Monday evening I watched Dispatches – Fashion’s Dirty Secret on Channel 4, which looked at the working conditions of clothing manufacturing units in the UK. The programme showed the dire and dangerous working conditions within a number of textile factories, and the illegally low pay of their employees. The workers were making clothes for a number of major UK high street retailers, including Topshop, whose owner Sir Philip Green is ironically advising David Cameron on public sector efficiency savings – ha! The conditions were poor but the most shocking thing was that they weren’t in Bangladesh, they were here in the UK. Most companies, both inside and outside the fashion industry now have ‘codes of conduct’ and ‘ethical business policies’ but largly it’s just a load of old bollocks – if you can buy a top for £4, someone down the supply chain is being exploited.
I started at Stephen Einhorn at the beginning of this year and one of the first things I noticed was that there is a real commitment to social and environmental responsibility, a pledge that has been in place for over 15 years. Not only a commitment to their customers but one to the people who work for them. Don’t get me wrong, no one is perfect and they don’t proclaim to be Mother Teresa, but they are making a real effort not a PR led one and this takes time, and certainly doesn’t come cheap. There is no doubt about it, Stephen Einhorn designs cost more because they are made in the highest quality materials, in London, by highly skilled craftsman, who are paid well for what they do. A lot of British consumers are keen to buy the latest designer looks at cheap prices but generally these come at a cost. At the end of the day, we can’t have it both ways, we have to make a choice. Unfortunately most businesses won’t do it off their own back so it’s up to us as consumers to question, and demand more from them.
Post by: Kelly
Watch Dispatches – Fashion’s Dirty Secret here.
Read more about our company philosophy, and social and environmental responsibility pledges here.