#insideout – any answers?
Part 2. Who Made Your Clothes?
Brands and Retailers Respond (or Not)
It takes a lot to make a garment. Not just the bits we hear about – the designers, the brands, the shops, the catwalk shows and the parties – but also the farmers who grow cotton, the ginners, spinners, weavers, dyers, sewers and other factory workers without whom the industry would not exist. These people, the people who make our clothes are hidden from us, often at their own expense.
The greatest cost these hidden people have to bear is to lose their life. Fashion Revolution is about building a future where an accident like this never happens again. We believe knowing who made our clothes is the first step in transforming the fashion industry.
On 24 April 2014, tens of thousands of people around the world turned their clothing #insideout, calling on brands and retailers to answer the question Who Made Your Clothes? #Insideout became the no.1 global trend on Twitter. Six months on, what was the response of brands and retailers to the demands of their customers?
In a word, disappointing. Out of the thousands of requests to brands via phone, email, twitter and facebook, only a handful of customers received replies. These mostly indicated the country where their clothes were made, adding in the fact that they adhered to the highest working conditions. Hardly any brands replied to the WHO made your clothes? and missed the opportunity to connect their customers with the people who made their clothes.
Gap replied: this is proprietorial information which we don’t wish to disclose
siennalula I’m asking @ted_baker, Who Made My Clothes? For @fash_rev #insideout
Join the revolution
Ted Baker: Hi, I’ve had my denim dungaree dress a while and it’s one of my favourite pieces in summer and for festivals. But I was wondering Who Made My Clothes as part of Fashion Revolution Day. On one label it says Manufactured in Albania and on the other it says made in China, I was wondering if you could tell me anything about the factories and the workers within them. Thanks, Sienna Somers
Ted Baker replied: The tragic event in Bangladesh has made Ted dig even deeper into his own clothing supply chains, seeking out areas that need improvement and further support. Ted is working hard to ensure that the clothes are as ethical as possible. We do not work in countries like Bangladesh or Burma where the workforce is more vulnerable. We monitor factory capacity and carefully plan production to reduce the need for sub-contracting. We have built long standing relationships with our suppliers and work with them to establish a well-equipped and highly skilled workforce. Each year our production and tech teams visit our key suppliers so we can see the standards being maintained and the improvements that could still be made.
M&S replied: (same response sent to everyone) All our clothing is made in factories that apply our strict ethical standards and we always label with the country of origin.
Other responses included:
Boden: It was made in China, in a factory we work with in Ezhou City, Hubei. For more info
Pringle: Thank you for asking. This was produced in a luxury leather factory in Italy.
Levi Strauss: Our garments are produced all over the world, but we’ll share a few links
Whistles: a factory in Southern China which follows BSCI code of conduct
A number of brands showed their support on the day: Esprit published a press release on their website in support of Fashion Revolution Day; Eileen Fisher held an event in their Covent Garden Store; G Star Raw displayed a poster in their Regent Street store.
The best response we received was from German Streetwear brand Ragwear gave us the best response of all brands to Who Made Your Clothes? You can read more on our Meet Your Maker blog We want more brands to follow the Ragwear example and show us the faces of the people who made our clothes. We aren’t asking Where or How, we just want to know Who!
Sadly, most mainstream brands and retailers sent no response at all to their customers. If we aren’t receiving answers, we need to keep on asking the question until we do. Who Made Your Clothes?
We do believe that ultimately the big companies will listen because their customers want clothing which makes them look good and feel good. A brand insider recently revealed that for every one person who turned an item of clothing inside out on the day and contact the brand, they took that as representing a further 10,000 people who thought the same, but couldn’t be bothered to do anything about it.
Of course, many ethical brands and small designers do know who made your clothes and were very happy to tell you. Designers, makers and producers all around the world were able to tell their customers who made their clothes. Next year, we hope that High Street brands and retailers will do the same.