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Fashionable Ethics


Only last week high street chain Primark, known for its disposable fashions at cut down prices, has been headline news for firing three Indian suppliers because they used child labour to finish goods. Clothes are being produced to increasingly short lead in times and low costs and this is what the average consumer has become accustomed to. Women’s clothing in the UK has fallen by a third in ten years, why pay more if you can pay less and with British debt now hitting £1.4 trillion is it any wonder shoppers opt for the cheaper alternative?  


These low costs however do not account for the social and environmental costs of production and this is how cheap stores churning out £3 tops survive. The minimum wage for garment workers in Bangladesh is now equivalent to £7.16 a month – two and half times less than its value of £18 in 1994 (The Ethical Trading Initiative)

Garment workers still face unfair and unsafe working conditions with few rights but with chains such as Primark being exposed and forced to hold their hands up and act quickly this must be a step in the right direction.  

Consumers are increasingly demanding that companies produce goods in an ethical manner, turning the spotlight on worker wages and working conditions which are exactly what’s needed, after all if the general public did not buy the garments the stores would not continue to produce them.  

The Ethical Fashion Forum is an organisation established in 2004 by fashion designers and businesses, as a means of pooling resources, sharing practice, and overcoming some of the challenges faced by fashion businesses relating to sustainable sourcing. 

The EFF aims to reduce poverty and create sustainable livelihoods by supporting, promoting and facilitating innovative values led business practices within the garment industry. ‘The fashion industry has changed the lives of thousands of people in some of the poorest parts of the world though providing jobs, sustainable incomes, skills and training. With equitable trade, fair wages and working conditions, the fashion industry has the potential to have an enormous impact in the reduction of poverty and hardship across the globe.

Socially and environmentally sustainable practices by fashion businesses are the key to the reduction of both poverty and environmental damage in fashion supply chains.’ 

Young, independent designers are looking more and more to ethical fashion practices and ensuring their garments are produced either locally or ethically abroad, which is fantastic and consumers should really look at supporting these designers rather than the high street chains more focused on making money, fast. 

The Enter Boutique is one place where concerned shoppers can go and receive the ultimate shopping experience. Fashion Enter supports new and emerging ladieswear, menswear and accessory designers and is so much more than a boutique; it is a lifestyle choice that offers the consumer a personal service. Garments can be tailor made to suit the individual, a couturier service is available and designs are exclusive and original; a far cry from the generic drone of today’s high street.  


Many of the designers are also careful that their garments are manufactured ethically, several choosing to produce garments locally in the UK. Fanniann, a range of exclusive limited collection ladieswear never use inferior materials or manufacturers in Communist China. ‘You will still get exceptional value but with far superior quality .We respect human rights, believe in democracy, support UK industry and all our products are made here in England.’


 The whereareyounow? label offers fantastic originality with the designer Josie giving new life to vintage fabrics thus each time creating something unique. ‘Whereareyou? is about beating the high street, giving new life to vintage claiming your own style. Whereareyounow? employs about a dozen ladies who love to sew. They work from the comfort of their favourite chair or dining table to bring you much loved unique garments.’


Accessories label Chicurela use only ‘Eco friendly’ salmon skin for their leather bags and accessories. ‘Until recently salmon skin was simply a waste product of the salmon farming industry. Recently, however, innovative minds have breathed new life into these skins by painstakingly transforming them into beautiful leather to be used to make fashionable goods. Extremely resistant to tears, scratches and everyday wear and tear, this ‘Eco friendly’ leather also retains its appearance and flexibility over time.’

blow pipe

And looking after the next generation Blow-pipe creates funky outerwear and accessories for the little individuals of today using vintage and recycled fabrics that are lined with warm fleece or cool toweling.

So as you can see there are designers out there offering unique and ethically manufactured designs and with the Enter Boutique sales figures just in at an over 50% increase on last year it just goes to show shoppers are beginning to care about where and how their clothes are made.

Designers at Enter Boutique can be found in Centrale Shopping Centre in Croydon, Vicarage Fields Shopping Centre in Barking and online at www.enter-boutique.com

Jenni Sutton     

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