Well, a debate about ethical trading in the clothing business, at the Art and Design building of Brighton University, on Friday 10th October, part of Brighton Fashion Week.
The speakers were (l to r) Tamsin Lejeune (ethical fashion forum), Caroline Lucas (Green Party MP for Brighton Pavilion), Ben Ramsden (Founder Pants to Poverty), Purna Sen (Labour Party parliamentary candidate for Brighton Pavilion)and Carry Somers (CEO Pachacuti). The three non-politicians had spent many years building organisations which created fairly paid work for people usually badly treated by normal businesses, where profit comes before all.
It was interesting to note that Ben’s company can make pants for £4.50p, and everyone in the supply line to the made object is paid fairly, but they still sell for £16 a pair (some, anyway) because of First World profit taking. Ben told us that some companies are now putting their needs, in terms of newly made clothing, out to auction, seeking the lowest bid from manufacturers in poor nations. This is a new way to drive down the cost, thus maximising potential profit.
The power of advertising in fashion was raised as an issue designed to keep some people seeking the newest, and often getting it for lowest price is a requirement as relative poverty in this country continues to grow. “I make paupers feel like princesses” said Sir Philip Green CEO BHS, Dorothy Perkins and Topshop.
Ben told us there is enough synthetic textile on the planet now for us never to need make any more from oil if we make sure we recycle it, Purna told us that national and international laws are needed, and its a shame that Britain has withdrawn from the International Labour Organisation (but hardly surprising, surely).
Caroline Lucas finished with a great cartoon, which she just described to us, but I found it: