Sometimes a girl’s (and a boy’s) got to buy. But before that happens, it’s good to make sure we do it from someone who’s doing things right. And even if asking these questions won’t change the way a fashion company operate, at least it’ll tell them that we care. Here are 10 questions that should get the skeletons out of company cupboards:
1. Which country does your cotton come from? If you don’t know, are you planning to find out?
2. Can you guarantee that no child labour or forced labour has been used in producing the cotton?
3. Do you use organic cotton?
4. What are the working conditions of farmers producing cotton for you? How much are they paid and how do you ensure they are getting their wages?
5. Do the workers in your factories have the right to unionise? If so, are you making certain that this right can be exercised? If not, and if your workers still unionise or join a trade union, will you continue production in that factory?
6. Can you guarantee that the clothes you sell contain no dangerous chemicals, which would cause environmental damage in production?
7. Do you calculate that the FOB (free on board) price of your clothes, minus materials and other costs, is enough to pay a living wage to factory workers?
8. How do you choose the factories you use for production and is there an independent body monitoring their corporate responsibility?
9. Would you be prepared to go public with the names of your production facilities?
10. If production costs go up in your country of production due to higher wages, are you committed to staying there?
We’ll shortly be launching our Manufacturer Mail series, in which we’ll be questioning a variety of fashion companies, then publishing their answers. In the meantime, feel free to copy any of the above questions and send them to anyone in whose ways of operating you’re interested. Or ask in the shop and see what the salesperson tells you. We’d love to showcase the answers here, so please let us know if you get any (or if you don’t – which often tells us just as much).