Tuesday, 9 November 2010

ITV's Desptaches: Fashion's Dirty Secret

I just would like to talk about yesterday's ITV's dispatches series with the title ' Fashion's Dirty Secret'. We, I mean the main part of fashion bloggers and fashion fanatics, should not forget that fashion is a global business and as much as we would like to wear haute couture and the newest little avantgard label,  most of our wardrobes consists of  a basic stable of clothes from Topshop/ Topman, Gab, H& M, New Look...etc, etc... and we all can' t wait for Lanvin's outing for H&M at the end of the month. But honestly who of us thinks how the clothes are produced and by who, under what conditions? Honestly, I was shocked b the fact that you do not need to go to India or China to find sweat shops. No- they are here in the UK too. ITV had reporters secretly filming working in a clothes factory in Leicester. The conditions under which the people where working are horrendous:

* “dangerous, pressurised sweatshop conditions”;
* workers exhorted to work faster under threat of the sack;
* cramped and over-heated conditions with unsanitary toilets and at least one blocked fire exit;
Workers’ identity and legality was also not checked, according to the programme.

 And all this for £ 2.50 an hour while the minimum wage by law is £ 5.93. If you want to read more about it and to see the information I used partly in this blog go to http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/articles/fashions-dirty-secret and http://www.labourbehindthelabel.org/.

The reaction of the companies was mostly a surprised short answer from their PR teams saying that they need to investigate more. Why investigating more. I think companies should have a department which especially monitors there contractors in regards to theses sweat shops. Most companies mentioned in yesterday's screening and the articles are part of the ' Ethical Trading Initiative which '... is a ground-breaking alliance of companies, trade unions and voluntary organisations. they work in partnership to improve the working lives of people across the globe who make or grow consumer goods - everything from tea to T-shirts, from flowers to footballs ( http://www.ethicaltrade.org/ )'. But here again the companies are victims of their own chaotic globalisation in which you have sub- contractor after sup- contractor, so in many cases the companies have difficulties to be aware of these ' hidden' sweat shops.

But how can we change this? The articles and Desptaches suggests of course ' retailers need to take respnsiblity' or even better ' the government should take a closer look at the factories'.

I would like to ask you all, my dear fellow fashion bloggers and fashion fanatics, what can  we do? Maybe I am a dreamer and too idealistic but  I think we all can change something.

Firstly I will start getting more information ( you can find links on the ITV website for example). Also we must change our buying habits. I decided again to use more second hand/ vintage for my autumn wardrobe. Additionally I will start buying my basics in shops like American Apparel and Bassike, brands who make you aware about how they produce their garments in an ethical way. Also the good old customizing is a excellent way to reduce your environmental footprint. For example  I just rescued an old grey H& M shirt from throwing it away. I got some really nice silk from work and covered the collar with it  but this actually leads into another blog.
I think that small steps can bring on a big jump. I do not know how you are feeling, but I'm sometimes overwhelmed by all these injustices in the world. I keep thinking what can I do to change things- everything is buying, consuming, throwing away and buying again. But I believe, the key for us is: buy more consciously. We need to show the big fashion retail companies that we do not like the way the produce their clothes. If we avoiding buying the really cheap clothes,  companies will quickly see that something is not right on their balance sheet. I will just start with little things as listed above and believe the change will come. The worst that we all can do, is ignoring what the big companies are doing with us. These companies are not only there' .. to  devour young souls alive, with their globalized production methods...'- but they do need to develop social responsibility.
I am really looking forward to comments. So please my beloved fashion bloggers and fashion addicts- let's start a discussion and I waiting for further suggestions how we can bring the big companies to become more socially aware.

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