I receive clothing catalogues through my letterbox nearly every day of the year. Some I have requested. Most I have absolutely no idea where they got my name and address from. This is my AW13 response, sent to the following retailers:
Anthropologie, Baukjen, Cox & Cox, H&M, JoJo Maman Bebe, Joules, La Redoute, Me+Em, Pure Collection, Radley, Sweaty Betty, The White Company, White Stuff, Wrap London
Dear clothing retailer
Thanks you for sending me your latest catalogue, packed with lovely looking goodies for Autumn/ Winter 13. As well as shopping for myself, I also have a very stylish husband and six fashion conscious children to clothe, ranging in age from 19 years, to 10 months. As you can imagine, we buy a lot of clothes!!
However, since the factory collapse in Bangladesh, I find myself in possession of a burning social conscience. Before I spend a single penny I need to redress my clothes shopping habits.
I simply cannot continue to be a mindless consumer, who ignores the awful lives – and sometimes awful deaths – of vulnerable, impoverished, powerless people.
If I were in their position I would find it outrageous that others could happily exploit my powerlessness for their own sartorial self indulgence and vanity on the cheap.
To this end I am writing to you.
I would like to know about the provenance of your clothing.
Personally, I will be going out of my way to support brands which are clear about their environmental credentials and promote the wellbeing and fair treatment of workers throughout their supply chain.
As a journalist, I am also writing about my experience and sharing what I discover with the readers of online magazine Diamonds and Daisychains. A lot of our readers – mainstream, middleclass women – have shown interest in ethical clothing lately, though they have found it very hard to get clear information on whether particular labels use sweatshops or not… some brands like to make it complicated with long documents written in legal jargon which basically amount to a commitment to have good intentions so long as they’re a marketable commodity. This is not what we’re looking for!
Other brands provide clear statements such as “All the people who work in our factories are over 19 years old, and they all receive a fair, fixed salary for their hard work and work decent hours.” We like that.
I would really appreciate it if you would let me know about your brand and your ethics:
Do you ensure that all workers along your supply chain are paid fairly and have decent working conditions?
Just a simple yes or no would be brilliant, though if you want to mention additional great things your company does, we’d love to hear about them too!
I will be posting this letter together with the responses I receive here.
Last but not least, if you are unwilling to answer my question, please remove me from your mailing list.
Diamonds and Daisychains
All answers we received are published here: Sweatshop , yes or no?