Why fashion companies don't make their clothing in the UK.
‘Made in China’, ‘Made in Bangladesh’ & ‘Made in Turkey’ are just some of the labels we tend to see sewn into our clothing. Before starting up East Coast '88 we wanted to know why, even when the clothing is made ethically (i.e. workers are in a safe environment, paid a living wage, work healthy hours, have access to a union etc.) clothing is still outsourced. The main factor we kept coming upon during our research was that there seems to be very, very little funding and investment in garment making in the UK. Due to a large lack of machinery investment it can be hard to get your product made, and as clothing has been outsourced for so long, UK-based skilled labour is hard to find. Vast improvements have been made in the garment manufacturing process with CAD/CAM (Computer Aided Design/Manufacturing) systems, but due to lack of investment UK factories cannot afford such systems. All these components result in the few UK garment manufacturing companies available being able to only manufacture small quantities. In order to turn this round and start producing clothing made in the UK we need a massive amount of government investment to really kick-start the industry.
There are, however, advantages to outsourcing as long as it’s done ethically & responsibly. As the garment industry is so heavily invested in abroad, the manufacturing factories tend to have the most up to date machinery, along with a large pool of highly skilled workers. In India, the organic cotton industry has boomed, and with India being the highest producer of organic cotton in the world, many companies find it easier to source their organic cotton from there whilst having the garments made there too. By keeping the demand up for Indian organic cotton this helps farmers keep their soils healthy and means they’re not handling harmful pesticides and chemicals. Just make sure you’re buying Fair Trade Cotton that is GOTS certified.
Our wholesalers – Continental Clothing – are Fair Wear Foundation Certified (head to their website here to learn more about workers’ rights. Our clothing is made in a state-of-the-art garment factory owned by Continental Clothing in Tamil Nadu, India where absolutely every step involved in the garment manufacturing process takes place. The factory is run using renewable green energy, uses Fair Trade low water impact organic cotton grown locally and is shipped over to the UK via boat which drastically reduces theirs - and our - carbon footprint.
So next time you make a clothing purchase take a little time to learn about the company you’re buying from, where the clothing is made, who made it, the ethos of the company – are they ethical/trying to make a positive difference – and how it was made.
Use your consumer power.