Let’s Clean Up Fashion

I spotted an article on Drapers website today about Primark making improvements to its commitment to paying overseas workers a living minimum wage. This was according to the third Let’s Clean Up Fashion report published by pressure group Labour Behind the Label. I’m quite involved with this group and earlier this year I raised money for them by working at Leeds Festival through Workers Beer.

According to Drapers, Primark, which fell into the “unconvincing” category on Labour Behind the Label’s living wage strategy last year, has moved into the report’s top tier of retailers working to increase wages, having instigated a number of joint projects with trade unions and non-government organisations on a local level to protect wages.

Up Fashion report scores fashion retailers based on submissions they make to the not-for-profit organisation detailing measures they are taking to ensure overseas workers in their supply chains are not exploited.

Primark joined Gap, Marks & Spencer, Monsoon, New Look and Next in scoring highly. All of these retailers demonstrated a systematic approach to wage increase.

Meanwhile the fourth annual report said that George at Asda, Clarks, Debenhams, French Connection, John Lewis, Laura Ashley, Levi Strauss & Co, Matalan, River Island and Sainsbury’s had not provided concrete information about any plans to address the living wage issue.

Labour Behind the Label’s campaigns co-ordinator Anna McMullen, said: “We were particularly disappointed with the supermarkets this year. Last year, Asda’s submission made reference to a ‘living wage’ and what they were paying in relation to that, whereas this year they just told us they do audits but didn’t go into detail.”

She added: “Sainsbury’s was also a bit of a disappointment. Each year they say they are planning projects with the Ethical Trading Initiative but never give concrete facts.”

A Sainsbury’s spokesperson responded: “We have ongoing relationships with suppliers as well as a system of auditing to ensure that our standards are being met.”

Companies said to have gone some way towards making changes were Arcadia Group, Aurora Fashions, Burberry and Tesco, with both Aurora Fashions and Burberry showing an improvement on last year’s rating.

Five other retailers were approached by Labour Behind the Label but the pressure said they did not respond. These were Alexon, Bhs, Ethel Austin, House of Fraser and Peacocks. It is understood that Bhs will contribute next year once its integration into the Arcadia Group is complete. Alexon said it did not remember receiving a request and said it would happily share information with Labour Behind the Label in the future.

None of the retailers questioned met Labour Behind the Label’s own standards of what constitutes a fair living wage.

Anthropologie Regent Street store to feature hydroponics

US fashion retailer Anthropologie, which debuts in the UK on Regent Street, October 23, will unveil an internal wall composed of plants.

Anthropologie, a clothing and home furnishing store aimed at 30 to 40-something females, and sister brand of Urban Outfitters, has trialled a similar feature on external walls at its store in Huntsville, Alabama, where a 2,000 sq ft vertical garden was completed in January this year.

James Smith, director of store design at the Philadelphia-based retailer, said that the three-floor, 22,000 sq ft store will have a “hydroponic plant wall” as its centrepiece, a system that allows plants to be grown vertically using piped nutrient feeds in place of earth.

The wall, believed to be the first of its kind in a retail environment in the UK, will cover 1,500 sq ft, be 50 ft high and will incorporate 35,000 individual plants, according to Smith.

Merchandising of the store begins this week when the retailer takes control of the building from the shop-fitting contractors.

Emma Watson’s ethical range

Taken from The Guardian: Emma Watson, the actor best known for her role as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter films, is to release a clothing collection in collaboration with the ethical fashion label People Tree.

Watson has been developing her interest in fashion this year, appearing on the front row at several catwalk shows in February and March. She is already linked with the British heritage brand Burberry, recently becoming the face of itsAutumn / Winter advertising campaign.

The collection for People Tree is aimed at bringing fair trade and organic fashion to the 16-24 age group. Watson is acting as creative advisor, injecting her personal style into the range.

“I was excited by the idea of using fashion as a tool to alleviate poverty and knew it was something I could help make a difference with,” she said.
“I think young people like me are becoming increasingly aware of the humanitarian and environmental issues surrounding fast fashion and want to make good choices but there aren’t many options out there.”

The People Tree line, comprising 26 women’s styles and 15 for men, plus a small accessories range, will enter stores in late February 2010. The collection, which includes knitwear, cotton T-shirts, jersey dresses, poplin skirts and shorts, is described by People Tree as “clean, sexy and easy to wear”.

Much of the range uses organic and fairly traded cotton. The clothes are made entirely by hand by fair trade groups using weaving, knitting and embroidery, helping to create livelihoods for disadvantaged groups in Bangladesh, India and Nepal.