|I love Converse but, unless I can |
get assurances on their ethics,
I may have to give them up.
The article was of particular interest to me as, last weekend, I was challenged about the clothes I buy and how they are made. I was made aware (again) of the terrible pay and conditions many workers endure in places like China, Indonesia and Cambodia in order to produce the clothes I get from the High Street.
As a result, I've decided to try and buy more ethical clothing. The trouble is, I don’t have a lot of money to buy clothes with and most ‘Fair-Trade’ labels are out of my price range. This leaves me with foraging in charity shops, which I don’t mind but, as I am an exceptionally tall man, I can rarely find my size.
So, I took to the internet. Because that’s what we do these days when we have a problem.
Searching for ethical clothing brands, I did find some, although many didn’t cater to my size (particular in the footwear department) or, more often, taste. But then I came across the article I mentioned. It appeared in the Guardian in April, and you can read it here.
I realise the article is a few months old, but it was the first I’d heard about H&M’s plans to be more ethical. The article points out H&M can’t really claim to be that ethical, but it also notes it’s a step in the right direction.
And, reading H&M’s own website, it does seem as though they are trying. Which brings me to my point:
If H&M are positioning themselves as an ethical choice, and they start to do well, won’t other retailers begin to follow suit? (No pun intended.)
If the ball starts rolling in this direction, and it’s what consumers want (displayed by them voting with their wallets), slowly we might see High Street fashion becoming more ethical, in the same way the coffee industry is so much better these days as a result of Fair-Trade products being a) readily available and b) chosen.
I know it’s not a perfect solution: In an ideal world, everyone would earn a fair wage, under fair conditions, immediately. But, sadly, it’s not a perfect world and these things take time.
It’s a small step on a long road but, for someone like me who can’t afford to buy expensive Fair-Trade brands, it’s better than nothing. So, for now, I’ll be visiting H&M more often*.
And, the more people who make a commitment to being ethical, who take the time even just to think about this as an issue, and be more deliberate about the stores they buy things from, the faster we might see big, positive changes in this industry.
*If anyone can direct me to articles on why I shouldn’t shop at H&M (perhaps their ethical practice codes are in fact a sham?), or any affordable ethical clothing stores, I’d be grateful.