24 April 2014
Who made your clothes?
"Who made your clothes?" is the basic question. The website prompts you to
It seems important to do "one small thing - today". I decided to Be Curious, and Find (something ... what?) Out.
First I asked google "where are marks and spencers clothes made" and got this answer -
Their clothes are manufactured by Dewhirst, whose many factories were moved to new plants in Indonesia and Morocco to protect margins after many challenges hit the textile and apparel industry.
The company's site has a page on "social compliance", including this information -
"We provide each worker with free nutritional meals and medical support. Via a community health clinic founded in conjunction with Marks & Spencer, we have pioneered projects to cut rates of tuberculosis and to reduce infant mortality through education and support for female employees."
So far so good. Same question about John Lewis ... Seems they are looking to bring back textile manufacture to the UK as part of their "made in the UK" campaign - aiming to increase sales of British-made products to 15% by next year.
(This move to "onshore manufacturing" is as much due to rising labour costs in the far east as to a change in consumer preference, though the clothing factory disaster must have gone some way to raise social awareness. One of the problems with bringing manufacturing back to the UK is a skills shortage... but Jaeger - a very British firm that has been manufacturing offshore since 2000 - too is planning to do so for some garments, moving most of the rest out of China to countries closer to home, such as Portugal and Tunisia.)
All very interesting ... as was the trawl through my collection of labels saved from recycled garments, finding ones with "Made in..." for the photo. The jeans I'm wearing today were made in the USA and the top was made in Austria ... but under what conditions?
Ethical shopping ... what a minefield ... the more you look into it, the fewer easy answers there are...