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Made in Britain Offers No Ethical Guarantees


As a UK based social enterprise that includes a garment manufacturing unit in North London we are only too proud to wave that ‘Made in Britain’ flag. Transparency is at the core of the entire company, which is made up of FashionCapital, Fashion Enter, The Factory, Fashion Studio, Stitching Academy and Fashion Technology Academy.

CEO Jenny Holloway comments: It has taken 8-years to ensure we work to the highest standards of compliance incorporating Fast Forward Audit, SMETA and the Modern Slavery Act. Made in Britain should be synonymous with quality, fair trade and good working practices.”

Unfortunately this is not always the case and next Monday (23rd January) Channel 4’s Dispatches heads undercover to investigate textile factories based in the UK and discovers that Made in Britain is not what it seems.

channel 4 tazeenIn 2010 reporter Tazeen Ahmad (pictured left, image courtesy of Channel 4) exposed poor conditions in clothes factories located in the heart of Britain. Now she returns to find out if things have improved. She discovers workers being paid less than half the national living wage and working conditions that pose a serious fire risk. Secret cameras capture one textile boss revealing that he considers he’s in direct competition with Bangladesh to meet the orders.

Tazeen also meets a new breed of shopper who never leave their homes to get the latest designs quickly. The booming industry labelled Fast Fashion has changed the face of the textile market, and Dispatches aim to lift the lid on what it means for the workers who make the clothes.

fashion enter open day groupJoJo Iles, editor of FashionCapital comments: “Being part of a compliant garment manufacturing company based in the UK just goes to show that it is possible to run a successful manufacturing business without making short cuts and compromising staff pay and safety. Brands and retailers need to up their game, how can they let this go on under their very noses? It’s is time to readdress the balance and ensure Made in Britain is a trademark to be proud of.”

(Image right: Fashion Enter’s Factory Open Day)

Bill Macbeth added on the TCBL (a project that aims to transform the Textiles and Clothing industry, with the objective of bringing 5% of production capacity back to Europe by 2025) website:

“Jenny’s (Jenny Holloway) right.  We’re seeing signs every day about manufacturers investigating the possibility for increasing the proportion of their products manufactured in the UK.  However, when it comes to reviving the UK industry we need to think carefully about how we do that.  Is one approach to start at the bottom? 

“By that I mean do we need to take action to improve the image of the industry so we can attract talented young people and ethical producers?  The 2015 report from the University of Leicester suggested that only 20% of workers in the Leicester garment industry were paid the minimum wage, with most of the remainder being paid £3 per hour!  The enforcement agencies seem to be powerless or reluctant to do anything about the situation and ethical producers can’t compete because brands still go for the lowest price. 

“Surely in 2017 practices like this, and the ‘slavery’ that we have witnessed in our local bedding sector here in West Yorkshire have to be eliminated if we are to create a viable base for a UK industry revival.  The heyday of British textile and garment manufacturing was based on inequality – we must not risk a return to those days by turning a blind eye to working conditions and workers rights.”

Want to see how our 7,500 m2 SMETA approved factory works? Then watch out for our next Factory Uncovered Open Day as advertised in our free weekly newsletter.

Undercover: Britain’s Cheap Clothes – Channel 4 Dispatches | Channel 4 23 Jan 8pm

Related articles:

Can Brexit Ignite a British Manufacturing Revival?

Open Britain after BREXIT

Brexit, Ethics & Innovation at Autumn’s Fashion SVP


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