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Fashion Action: Leading a Green Recovery in Scotland


Today, Friday 23rd July, Fashion-Enter CEO Jenny Holloway joined Fiona Gooch, Senior Policy advisor from Traidcraft for a Fashion Revolution Scotland online conversation. In this live cross-party Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) event, the pair discussed the critical need for Government intervention on Brands Purchasing Practices, and solutions on how that can be achieved with Government support. 

Now that the garment industry is receiving closer scrutiny by regulatory bodies, with issues in supply chains being scrutinised by the media also becoming commonplace, there is an urgent necessity to remedy problematic practices.

Many stakeholders have remediated to the best of their abilities, but time and time again one area that remains unregulated – and has the potential to be the most damaging for all participants in the supply chain, from top to bottom – is Retailers Purchasing Practices.

In 2014 the UK launched a Grocery Trading Adjudicator which is an independent regulator, ensuring that regulated retailers treat their direct suppliers lawfully and fairly. This year they reported that supplier complaints were down to 29% from 79% in 2014.

In March 2021, the Environmental Audit Committee after receiving on-going reports of underpayment of wages and poor working conditions, has recommended to BEIS the introduction of a Garment Trading Adjudicator, to help stamp out non-compliance with labour market regulation in the UK garment industry.

Jenny Holloway talked about the current boom in sustainable and ethical garment making in the UK today, machinery driven efficiencies using her own micro-factory as an example, and the necessity for an adjudicator to eradicate illegal and unethical brand practices, ensuring that legitimate brands and suppliers can function on a level-playing field. 

The senior private sector policy adviser at Traidcraft Exchange Fiona Gooch has been instrumental in the most recent Environmental Audit Committee inquiry Fixing fashion: clothing consumption and sustainability, as well as the call to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy Business (BEIS) for a Garment Trading Adjudicator/ Fashion Watchdog, to regulate apparel brands, and prevent exploitation of workers by brands’ buying-in practices. 

Fiona delivered a short presentation posing the question to MSPs, ‘What is the Scottish Parliament doing to become a leader in sustainable apparel policy, and to stop abusive buying practices by Scottish businesses and businesses selling clothes to Scottish citizens?’

She also included current concerns on how brands are coping with disrupted orders due to the pandemic and the knock-on affect that is pushing risks further down the supply chain.

The session rounded off by welcoming questions from the MSPs and stressed that to ensure a truly sustainable and transparent fashion industry Government policy and enforcement would need implementation as soon as possible.

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