Thursday, 5 September 2013

The difference between us is... (reply to Ethical Fashion Forum)

09.07.2013 18:06
Dear Tamsin Lejeune
the difference between us is on the "issues ... made in britain" page of your web site, at the bottom.
Made in Britain | Ethical Fashion Forum
Made in Britain | Ethical Fashion Forum is only by raising standards and wages outside of the UK that the UK garment production sector will again be in a position to compete on equal terms with production in what are currently low wage economies.

"trade in garments and textiles has created a springboard for industrial development all over the world- with Britain and America being amongst the first to benefit followed by the “Asian Tiger” economies of Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea, and more recently, China and India. Producing garments or components of garments outside of the UK to sustainable standards can assist development in some of the poorest communities in the world, create sustainable livelihoods and reduce poverty for thousands of people."

I think that national insurance, secondary schools, hospitals, accesss to justice, and votes should happen before or during an industrial revolution and be forced to happen.

Votes, for example, happen in Taiwan and Hong Kong but not in China. People in China have been waiting rather a long time, I think, and are unlikely to get universal pensions or healthcare until they have votes. It's an odd country because the single child policy has forced wealth to spread a bit - there is not the population explosion that's happened in Bangladesh.

Thinking of other ways to reduce a population explosion, I think that pensions, healthcare and health education, contraception, and girls' secondary schools all help; if girls are more assertive and there is less pressure to have children to look after you in old age, then the population might not explode so rapidly. People in Bangladesh have been waiting rather a long time national insurance, given that the UK had a National Insurance Act in 102 years ago in 1911. The prime minister of the UK could simply have telegrammed the Viceroy of Inda, Lord Hardinge, (pictured if the upload works) and floated then idea but apparently it didn't work like that. I don't think that Bangladesh or Pakistan are going to change any time soon while some people in the country do very well out of their neighbours being poor. There is even enough money in government for an export subsidy, but not enough for a heath service. There is a risk that Bangladesh could loose market share if other countries do not introduce a national insurance system too. Cheap labour, and the flow of aid, both happen when there are a lot of poor people.

"It is only by raising standards and wages outside of the UK that the UK garment production sector will again be in a position to compete on equal terms with production in what are currently low wage economies."

If you are convinced that there should be national insurance or high tariffs built-in to the prices of clothes from Bangladesh, then we can agree on this last paragraph. And such a large change of position would prompt you to re-write the first part of the page as well,

  1. stating that goods made in welfare states are more expensive for good reason, offering better conditions for their workers than a fairtrade scheme. You might become interested in

  2. how people who live in welfare states can seek-out goods made in them, which will probably be by mail-order rather than high street chainstores. An example is the one that your "made in Britain" swing tag logo came from, which has since had to lay-off its staff. You will want to

  3. criticsise London Fashion week for the way it puts UK factory workers out of work by offering free PR to companies like Terra Plana which made its shoes in China and made rediculous claims. You would

  4. explain how companies in South Europe now, or the UK in 1979-2009, were devistated by whimsical changes of exchange rate dictated by central banks rather than the goods market. That's why their designs are mainstream and their sales methods geared to particular markets.

  5. mention how the UK needs a rebalanced economy to pay the taxes that pay for a welfare state, now that payments from financial services have dropped by billions.

I'm sure you would want to do some of those things if we agreed with each other.

Meanwhile, I'll type another draft of your "issues/made-in-britain" page in case you can use it for the moment as you're busy with a trade show, and Bangladesh is the hot topic at the moment rather than Middleton or Rushden or Rossendale or Nottingham or Hinckley or Northampton.
John Robertson

John Robetson, blogging as planB4fashion
mail e-mail:
- Homepage:

This was written in answer to a post to indymedia and to planB4fashion on 08.07.13
No reply has been recieved 05.09.13. The original post is quoted below

Response from the Ethical Fashion Forum

08.07.2013 19:13
Dear Indymedia,I am a fan of what you do and what you stand for. As Managing Director of the Ethical Fashion Forum, I am writing to give our side of the story on the Ethical fashion Forum and the SOURCE Summit.

We are a small not for profit organisation, absolutely committed and dedicated to better practices in the fashion industry. You quote £225 as the price of attending the SOURCE Summit- in fact our prices started at £65, and we are also live streaming the event - free for people to attend from anywhere online. However, we are determined to be heard with this event- and that means running it in a higher profile way. You can't do that without any money- even if you run an event at cost, which is what we are doing.

As a forum for collaboration in the industry, we have always been inclusive- by bringing together individuals and businesses from every part of the industry , we are able to get constructive debate going, and this has catalysed some very effective partnerships and initiatives. There is no question that the majority of the industry is not doing enough to address the appalling conditions for workers that remain endemic in many parts of the world. There are organisations whose remit it is to campaign against this and expose the companies that are not doing enough about it- this is important, and it needs to continue.

Our remit is to work with companies, offering them the tools, access to information, inspiring and motivating their staff, building connections and fostering collaboration across the sector, in order to meaningfully improve standards and conditions.

We recently launched a Call to Action on Bangladesh, and it has had a very wide response from the professional fashion sector:

We would be very interested to work with you, PlanB4fashion, and take on board your ideas.

We would also absolutely welcome speakers from the European Parliament to this and other events. Panel speakers do not pay to attend- they do normally ask for expenses if travelling though- so, as a social enterprise, we do need a business model for our events! Which means charging a fee to attend. Our fees are a fraction of the event fees of other mainstream industry events. If anyone has bright ideas on how we can run an event like this without charging fees to delegates, they are most welcome!

Finally, we really welcome the voices of the readers of Indymedia at SOURCE Summit- attend online, FREE of charge, by registering here -

Hoping to connect with you there, and welcoming you to join the debate,

Tamsin Lejeune
Managing Director
Ethical Fashion Forum and SOURCE

Tamsin Lejeune
mail e-mail:
- Homepage:

1 comment:

  1. lists some criticisms. is the part about ethical fashion forum. is a footnote to back-up earlier paragraphs for the curious. It's just a list of their implausible statements