It’s now one year since the Bangladeshi Rana Plaza factory collapse, which killed 1,133 people and injured over 2,500. This highlighted the terrible conditions in which people are working to make fashion for our High Streets. What could we in the UK do to encourage better conditions for workers across the globe?
Fashion Revolution Day on 24 April is saying enough is enough; fashion should be a force for good and not creating social and environmental catastrophes.
We will be doing a series of blogs here under the theme “Ethical Southampton”, to find out which businesses in the city are responding to workers’ rights and taking global responsibility seriously.
Ethical Consumer magazine is providing a shopping guide to High Street and online retailers in its May 2014 edition, which enables customers to decide which ethical factors are important when making purchasing decisions. The magazine has looked into five different factors that contribute to an ethical product (environment, animals, people, politics and product sustainability). Many of the clothing stores found in Southampton are on this list, giving shoppers the chance to consider ethical issues when visiting West Quay, Above Bar and other shopping streets in the city. Marks and Spencer’s organic range is positioned at the top of the High Street list although with a average core of 10.5 out of 20 still has a way to go before it can truly be an ethical brand. Perhaps surprisingly, Primark is ranked higher than John Lewis with scores of 4.5 and 4 respectively out of 20. Bottom of the list is ASDA’s George clothing which fails to score at all with no points.
Ethical Consumer also rates the top “alternative clothes shops”, so called because ethical fashion is still a niche product, rather than something that is mainstream. Here in Southampton, we can be particularly proud that local company Who Made Your Pants is ranked joint second in the magazine’s ratings out of 59 UK underwear brands.