What does it say on the label of your clothes? Made in UK? Made in China? Made in Bangladesh? What does this label say about your clothes and how they were produced?
Most people won’t even look let alone think about what it means.
Most consumers would say that it has nothing to do with them - what is written on the label or who made their clothes, leaving it up to the companies to use fair labour. But turning a blind eye is so damaging. There is a great quote by author Anna Lappe saying that “every time you spend money you are casting a vote for the kind of world you want”. Just as you would vote in an election or a poll it is time to vote for a fairer fashion industry. This is what the Fashion Revolution campaign hopes to achieve by asking people to show their labels and ask the question, “who made my clothes?”
It is time to check our labels and dig deeper and find out what it means when it says “Made in Bangladesh” or “Made in Spain”. Made by who? And in what conditions? For how much? And at what cost to the planet?
Currently it is unfortunately the norm for clothes to be made unethically in fast fashion factories in countries like China and India and that is where the problem lies. As ethical businesses we have to label ourselves as fair trade so that we are seen as different to these other companies - whereas we should be the norm and other companies should be pointed out as being unethical.
If all companies adhered to the basic fair trade principles (“Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade”) then consumers wouldn’t have to specifically look for brands with these credentials but rather would be able to shop - at ease and peaceful in the knowledge that all of their purchases were benefiting people and the environment rather than harming them. Sadly this is not yet the case.
As Fair trade manufacturing in developing countries grows exponentially, so Channel 4 Dispatches documentaries unveil how popular faces on the high street are taking advantage of people's general assumptions that 'Made in the UK' garments are probably of a higher quality and made in better conditions that anything that comes out of the developing world. People think that buying Western made products is an exception to exploitation, but we are becoming increasingly aware of issues such as slavery, poor working conditions and unfair/illegal wages.
There is always a story behind the label be it good or bad and it is time for us as consumers to start finding out what that story is, rather than judging superficially - like a book by its cover. We should stop and think about the garment and not just by where it is made. This is where companies like Bushbells shine: complete honesty and transparency about their whole supply chain they are proud to say Made in Kenya and show you exactly where and who made you clothes!