Archive for the ‘fashion’ Category

Sweatshop fast fashion Made in Leicester

January 23, 2017

We don’t get paid much for our clothes, and we need to compete with China and Bangladesh… If we pay everyone £10 or £6 then we will make a loss. — Fashion Square Ltd

Shocking report this evening on Channel Four DispatchesUndercover: Britain’s Cheap Clotheson fast fashion sourced by leading brand names from sweatshops in Leicester – New Look, River island, Boohoo and Missguided – workers paid less than half the minimum wage.

The usual response, we did not know, if we had known we would have dealt with it.

When fast fashion forces down the price it pays, when a factory owner says he cannot produce at the price unless he pays his workers only £3 an hour, then of course these brands are culpable.

In one of the sweatshops, supplying Boohoo and Missguided, it was a potential death trap.

The brands rake in vast profits on the back of exploited workers.

The people who buy into fast fashion, wear once then throw away, are also culpable.

In addition to exploiting workers, it is damaging the environment.

It does not have to be, instead of fast fashion, zombies buying into the latest fad, we can have slow fashion, quality, sustainable production, minimum impact, ethical, paying producers and workers a fair price, clothes we value.

Though you will look long and hard to find fashion shops that support slow fashion, other  than simply pay lip service.

Two that spring to mind, The Fair Shop and Nia Boutique.

The Fair Shop

The Fair Shop

The Fair Shop in Brighton, on the road leading down to the seafront from Brighton Station. Not the best location, a better location would be in North Laine.

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Nia Boutique

Nia Boutique in Protaras in Cyprus overlooks Fig Tree Bay. A boutique in the open air, with clothes hanging from the trees, in the style would find on a Greek island. Sophia can be found hidden somewhere. It is next to Myu Coffee, one of the rare places where can obtain a half-decent coffee in Cyprus.

Kirki’s Eye

October 13, 2016
Kirki's Eye Athen's Design Spot

Kirki’s Eye Athens Design Spot

Strong attention to detail.

Reminded of citrus and Nia Boutique in Cyprus.

The Fair Shop

September 5, 2016
The Fair Shop

The Fair Shop

I came across The Fair Shop walking down to the seafront on a trip to Brighton.

Sustainable fashion, slow fashion, minimum impact, ethical, paying producers a fair price, clothes we value.

One range in The Fair Shop, was from a group of women in Malawi.

Fashion is one of the most damaging industries on the planet, from cotton that is one of the most polluting and water intensive crops grown, to the hazardous chemicals used to processes and die the cotton, to the sweatshop labour used to make the clothes, through to disposal clothes, worn once and then thrown away.

But it does not have to be.

The Fair Shop in Brighton is an example that shows it does not have to be, as does Nia Boutique in Protaras in Cyprus.

Nia Boutique through the looking glass

June 7, 2016

image

Nia Boutique as seen through the looking glass.

Nia Boutique

May 31, 2016

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Nia Boutique

Slow fashion is to fashion what slow food is to food, the opposite of fast food.

Slow fashion is low impact, sustainable, style.

Fast fashion is sweatshops, disposable, fashion.

Nia Boutique is slow fashion, ethical.

Located next to an excellent coffee shop, Miyu, it is in the open air, as one would find on a Greek island.

On hand is the designer herself, Sophie.

Nia Boutique is located overlooking Fig Tree Bay.

citrus.

October 5, 2015
citrus.

citrus.

citrus. An upmarket boutique in centre of Protaras, opposite Vrissiana Beach Hotel, that opened in May, are now opening a second shop in Paralimni.

Russell Brand sweatshirts from sweatshops?

June 12, 2015

Many garment-producing countries have minimum wages that are less than half of the value of a wage that is enough to allow a family to live with dignity. — Anna McMullen, Labour Behind the Label

A hatchet job in the Daily Mail, shock horror, Russell Brand exploiting Bangladeshi workers in their sweatshops to expand his evil clothing empire.

Shoddy reporting. Nothing more than a hatchet job on Russell Brand. Weasel words like grade-A hypocrite.

Russell Brand made a mistake. In good faith he placed a contract with assurances on production. When these assurances proved to be false, he admitted he got it wrong, pulled the contract.

Could the reporter not have gone to Russell Brand and said, did you know the conditions of production? But no, run to Daily Mail, Do Not Pass Go, collect thirty pieces of silver on the way.

Surely the focus should be on the company,  not Russell Brand? For who else are they delivering non-ethical clothes?

The company, Belgium-based  Stanley & Stella, admitted to the Daily Mail it had problems with illegal overtime in the Bangladesh factories.

According to the Daily Mail its clients include Next, Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

Stanley & Stella claim its workers are paid more and forced to do less overtime than in rival factories

The most important thing that makes our business a sustainable business, it is that we commit to have continuous improvements pushing forward all kind of barriers.

The company claims it is working to reduce illegal levels of overtime at the factory and had ended contracts with other factories which refused to stop pushing workers into 90-hour weeks.

Even the Daily Mail is forced to admit that industry regulator, Fair Wear Foundation, says the factory is one of the best employers in the country and pays more than other less scrupulous operators.

Thus even from accounts in the Daily Mail, the company Russell Brand placed his contract with is better than the industry average, not only better ‘one of the best employers in the country and pays more than other less scrupulous operators’. Not good, not ideal, but not quite as bad as the Daily Mail would have its readers to believe.

If the Daily Mail is now so keen to highlight the plight of workers in Third World sweatshops, will we be reading a few more stories, the first of a series, this time highlighting the big name fashion brands? Will the Daily Mail be refusing adverts from these brands until they clean up their act?

Stanley & Stella claim high ethical standards, that they are on the ground monitoring factories. How do they then explain workers paid less than a living wage, forced to do illegal overtime? How do they justify the huge disparity between low production costs and high retail price?

The Mail has discovered that those who make sweatshirts for Brand’s website work for up to 11 hours a day.

The starting monthly wage is 6,200 Bangladeshi taka (TK) a month, or around £52. This works out at around £1.98 a day, excluding overtime.

The minimum legal wage for Bangladesh is TK5,300 (£44.21) per month. That is far short of the TK25,687 – around £214 – which campaigners say is the minimum living wage.

Russell Brand placed his contract in good faith.

A big difference to the fashion industry whose buyers know exactly what is going on. They play factory against factory, country against country, to force down prices. They could just as easily use their buying power to force up labour and environmental standards, but they do not.

But real issues are raised. Workers are being exploited in sweatshops, not only by Primark, also brands selling expensive clothes, with massive mark-ups, fools and their money easily parted for a label.

Factory gate price around a dollar, retail in the shops around $70. A huge mark up. The wages to the workers could easily be doubled, and it would make not a jot of difference to the retail price.

Gap, WalMart, Hugo Boss, a very long list.

What you pay for is the label.

If the Daily Mail was interested in the fate of workers in sweatshops, they would be exposing Gap and other big names.

Big names play one factory against another, one country against another, to force down prices. They know what goes on in the factories, but prefer to turn a blind eye.

Questions need to be answered by Russell Brand on the massive mark up, where the clothes are being made, the wages of the workers, the hours worked, the working conditions.

Also, what social enterprises are being supported? We know Trew Era Cafe has been supported with money from Revolution.

Transparency is important for credibility. Set higher standards, force others to follow.

Slow fashion. Unbleached natural organic cotton, kinder on the environment, softer on the skin, looks good too. If dyes are to be used, then natural dyes.

Cotton is a very dirty crop. It uses vast amounts of water, huge amounts of chemicals. More water, more chemicals in the processing of the cotton. The clothes are usually made in Third World sweatshops.

Industrial cotton is one of the most environmentally damaging crops that Man grows. Organic cotton is much pleasanter to wear. Organic cotton is biodegradable and can easily be recycled.

Industrial cotton requires an enormous amount of pesticide to keep it viable. Each pound of product requires a third of a pound of pesticides, which adds up to 25 percent of all pesticides used in the US for 13 million acres of cotton. Many cotton pesticides are EPA toxicity class I, like the viciously effective insecticides Methomyl and Methyl Parathion. A study by the California Department of Pesticide Regulation revealed that pesticide usage per acre increased during the 1991 to 1995 period by 4.21 pounds to 14.15 pounds per acre. The reality in the Third World, where pesticide regulation is more relaxed, is much worse.

Commercial white cotton is by far the most pesticide-dependent crop in the world and a major global crop. Fifty-five countries rely upon cotton for a significant percent of GDP. Cotton processing also takes another toxic toll, as the use of chlorine bleaching agents, formaldehydes and phenols is quite dangerous to all life. Fabric dyes utilizing arsenic, lead, cadmium, cobalt, zinc, and chromium are also very problematic. All processing stages produce large amounts of toxic wastewater. Azo dyes are cheap and common, about 2,000 exist. Many are water based and possess highly carcinogenic material absorbed by the skin and accumulated in the body. Inhalation, aquatic exposure or simple skin contact can be harmful. The EU has banned import and usage of the more toxic versions containing arylamines, though these products are used elsewhere. Other acid dyes produce waste streams with pH values above 11 and with possible carcinogen content.

Organic cotton is good for the planet, good for ourselves.

Natural cotton does not have to be any colour so long as it is off-white. Cotton grows in varying hues from purple to brown. Cross-breeding programmes have selected cotton of red, blue, green. This eliminates the need for dyes.

Slow fashion would set a standard. Clothes that look good, clothes that last. Style not fashion. Fashion is consumer addiction.

If people ask questions where their clothes come from, we would see an improvement.

Labour Behind the Label are the people to talk to about sweatshops. Maybe a Trews on the topic.

Labour Behind the Label are part of a European network on sweatshops.

Maybe a different approach is needed.

A few years ago, Paulo Coelho did a deal, whereby Mango sold limited edition t-shirts. The proceeds went to support kids in a favela in Rio through the Paulo Coelho Institute. Paulo and his wife Christina support these kids. One way is selling limited edition art and jewellery through Etsy.

The Way of the Bow has been produced as a collaborative effort. People can download for free. If they wish, they can make a donation to support the kids in the favela.

We used to have dark Satanic mills producing fabrics, they dominated the landscape. Now few are left. In their heyday they destroyed the India cotton industry, now it is the other way around. But, take into account shipping, employment conditions, it is now viable to produce quality clothes in these mills. Maybe one can be contracted to produce, or maybe the model Paulo Coelho used with Mango.

The East End of London used to be home to many sweatshops. Do any still exist?

Talking to my own contacts. T-shirts/sweatshirts retailing at a tenner, a fiver from supplier. A 100% mark-up. Supplier sources direct from sweatshops in Bangladesh. How much would it cost to source if specified unbleached organic cotton, living wage, no illegal overtime?

Advantage of production in the dark Satanic mills is better control. Can we trust what we are told in Bangladesh with the level of corruption?

Look to Barcelona, interlocking coops. When something is needed, a new coop is established. Crowd fund one of the East End sweatshops as a coop. Community owned, better pay and working conditions, producing clothes for other social enterprises.

The design of the sweatshirts poor. Remove what is on the back, retain small logo on the front. This would also reduce costs.

citrus.

May 23, 2015
citrus.

citrus.

shoes

shoes

Last Sunday was the opening night of citrus.

But as luck would have it, my flight was late.

citrus. is proving popular with Russian girls who are happy to spend money on quality but not on tourist tat.

citrus. An upmarket boutique in centre of Protaras, opposite Vrissiana Beach Hotel.

One Rolex short of contentment

December 24, 2013

That they are crass, brash and trashy goes without saying. But there is something in the pictures posted on Rich Kids of Instagram (and highlighted by The Guardian last week) that inspires more than the usual revulsion towards crude displays of opulence. There is a shadow in these photos – photos of a young man wearing all four of his Rolex watches, a youth posing in front of his helicopter, endless pictures of cars, yachts, shoes, mansions, swimming pools, spoilt white boys throwing gangster poses in private jets – of something worse; something that, after you have seen a few dozen, becomes disorienting, even distressing.

four Rolexes

four Rolexes

burning money

burning money

bar bill

bar bill

The pictures are, of course, intended to incite envy. They reek instead of desperation. The young men and women seem lost in their designer clothes, dwarfed and dehumanised by their possessions, as if ownership has gone into reverse. A girl’s head barely emerges from the haul of Chanel, Dior and Hermes shopping bags she has piled onto her vast bed. It’s captioned “shoppy shoppy” and “#goldrush”, but a photograph whose purpose is to illustrate plenty seems instead to depict a void. She’s alone with her bags and her image in the mirror, in a scene that seems saturated with despair.

drowning in bags

drowning in bags

Perhaps I am projecting my prejudices. But an impressive body of psychological research appears to support these feelings. It suggests that materialism, a trait that can afflict both rich and poor, which the researchers define as “a value system that is preoccupied with possessions and the social image they project”, is both socially destructive and self-destructive. It smashes the happiness and peace of mind of those who succumb to it. It’s associated with anxiety, depression and broken relationships.

swimming pool

swimming pool

There has long been a correlation observed between materialism, a lack of empathy and engagement with others, and unhappiness. But research conducted over the past few years appears to show causation.

For example, a series of studies published in June in the journal Motivation and Emotion showed that as people become more materialistic, their well-being (good relationships, autonomy, a sense of purpose and the rest) diminishes. As they become less materialistic, it rises.

In one study, the researchers tested a group of 18-year-olds, then re-tested them 12 years later. They were asked to rank the importance of different goals: jobs, money and status on one side, self-acceptance, fellow feeling and belonging on the other. They were then given a standard diagnostic test to identify mental health problems. At the ages of both 18 and 30, materialistic people were more susceptible to disorders. But if in that period they became less materialistic, their happiness improved.

giant sofa

giant sofa

In another study, the psychologists followed Icelanders weathering their country’s economic collapse. Some people became more focused on materialism, in the hope of regaining lost ground. Others responded by becoming less interested in money and turning their attention to family and community life. The first group reported lower levels of well-being, the second group higher levels.

These studies, while suggestive, demonstrate only correlation. But the researchers then put a group of adolescents through a church programme designed to steer children away from spending and towards sharing and saving. The self-esteem of materialistic children on the programme rose significantly, while that of materialistic children in the control group fell. Those who had little interest in materialism before the programme experienced no change in self-esteem.

in the plane

in the plane

Another paper, published in Psychological Science, found that people in a controlled experiment who were repeatedly exposed to images of luxury goods, to messages which cast them as consumers rather than citizens and to words associated with materialism (such as buy, status, asset and expensive), experienced immediate but temporary increases in material aspirations, anxiety and depression. They also became more competitive, more selfish, had a reduced sense of social responsibility and were less inclined to join demanding social activities. The researchers point out that as we are repeatedly bombarded with such images through advertisements, and constantly described by the media as consumers, these temporary effects could be triggered more or less continuously.

A third paper, published (ironically) in the Journal of Consumer Research, studied 2,500 people for six years. It found a two-way relationship between materialism and loneliness: materialism fosters social isolation; isolation fosters materialism. People who are cut off from others attach themselves to possessions. This attachment in turn crowds out social relationships.

The two varieties of materialism which have this effect – using possessions as a yardstick of success and seeking happiness through acquisition – are the varieties that seem to be on display at Rich Kids of Instagram. It was only after reading this paper that I understood why those photos distressed me: they look like a kind of social self-mutilation.

my painting

my painting

Perhaps this is one of the reasons why an economic model based on perpetual growth continues on its own terms to succeed, though it may leave a trail of unpayable debts, mental illness and smashed relationships. Social atomisation may be the best sales strategy ever devised, and continuous marketing looks like an unbeatable programme for atomisation.

Materialism forces us into comparison with the possessions of others, a race both cruelly illustrated and crudely propelled by that toxic website. There is no end to it. If you have four Rolexes while another has five, you are a Rolex short of contentment. The material pursuit of self-esteem reduces your self-esteem.

posing with bottles

posing with bottles

I should emphasise that this is not about differences between rich and poor: the poor can be as susceptible to materialism as the rich. It is a general social affliction, visited upon us by government policy, corporate strategy, the collapse of communities and civic life and our acquiescence in a system that is eating us from the inside out.

This is the dreadful mistake we are making: allowing ourselves to believe that more money and more stuff enhances our well-being, a belief possessed not only by those poor deluded people in the pictures, but by almost every member of almost every government. Worldly ambition, material aspiration, perpetual growth: these are a formula for mass unhappiness.

— George Monbiot

Published by George Monbiot on his blog.

Materialism, far from making us happy, increasing our well-being, simply destroys our lives.

In the last few days before Christmas, the news was how much is being spent, is it more or less than last year. No one questioned this mindless consumption.

In conversation with Dougald Hine in Dark Mountain 4, Gustavo Esteva makes the point poverty is relative. He worked with poor peasants and contrary to the received view, he found them to be happy.

Install a new kitchen because that is what the marketing says you want. It dies not improve the cooking skills, this despite cookbooks are the best-sellers. Quality food is not bought from local suppliers, no, the cheapest rubbish the supermarket has to offer.

We are not poor because we lack the latest iPhone, clothes with a trendy fashion label.

When not engaged in mindless consumption, sat like zombies in front of a widescreen TV watching garbage.

I only have one Rolex, a Montegrappa pen. Do I need more? No.

Afternoon tea at Pimento Tea Rooms

February 11, 2013
Mercury Shoes

Mercury Shoes

Mercury Shoes

Mercury Shoes

I had intended to have tea at Pimento Tea Rooms, at least I had had I arrived earlier. But too late, absolutely no way am I stopping to have tea, not time.

I stop and have tea.

I drop of the BookCrossing code for The Shadow of the Wind which I had dropped off last week, and say I will register Pimento Tea Rooms as a BookCrossing zone.

I find a lady stood watching both shops. I ask is she a security guard? She says no, no one in the shoe shop, she is the book keeper who has climbed down from her garret. She needs to serve a customer in the shoe shop, ask the girl in the tea rooms, to go off and find a pair of shoes, I am promoted to guardian of the tea rooms and left in charge.

Pimento Tea Rooms appears to be a meeting place of the local literati, or what in Lincoln passes as the local literati, people chat about books.

I talk to two ladies about The Shadow of the Wind, BookCrossing, writer Paulo Coelho and read The Alchemist. All unknown to them.

On leaving I have a brief chat with a very attractive young woman in the shoe shop. She is the owner of the shoe shoe the tea rooms. Very upmarket shoes.

Pimento Tea Rooms has very interesting access. Either through a fashion shop or a tea shop. The owner of the fashion shop was the owner of the tea shop, now the ownership has changed hands to the owner of the shoe shop.

Excellent Assam tea.

I picked up a slice of their carrot cake to eat later, or to be correct vegan carrot cake.

Nothing like carrot cake. Interesting icing or cream on top, slightly spicy. The cake though is nothing like carrot cake. On display it looks like carrot cake, but when you eat it, you see it looks nothing like carrot cake. More like Christmas pudding in constituency. The taste nothing like carrot cake. If expecting carrot cake, then disappointing, but nothing wrong, just different. Needs to be called something other than carrot cake, or at least vegan carrot cake.

Pimento Tea Rooms has occasional evening music. Friday 22 January 2013, guitarist Karl Svarc.

Earlier in the day I was at a whole food stall in the Central market. I commented on flyers for Pimento Tea Rooms and the evening with Karl Svarc, for the lady to tell me it was her husband and she had his CDs on sale. I was talking to a man running her stall a few weeks back, but did not recognise him. She dug a handful of CDs out of a drawer. I asked did she know what automatically played on his website as it was very good, but no, she did not. I took a chance and bought one of his CDs, Strong Foundation. I suggested he uploaded his music to bandcamp. I did wonder, why hide the CDs in a drawer, not going to lead to many sales.

Synchronicity: This evening I added release notes for the book I had dropped off. As I do so my eye is caught by a quote on the page, it is from The Shadow of the Wind!

Carlos Ruiz Zafon:

Bea says that the art of reading is slowly dying, that it’s an intimate ritual, that a book is a mirror that offers us only what we already carry inside us, that when we read, we do it with all our heart and mind, and great readers are becoming more scarce by the day.