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What Are Ethical Jeans That Are Sweat Shop Friendly? - Articles Surfing
Out shopping one day, I came across something I never thought Id see: a funky pair of jeans with a label claiming they were sweatshop-free. I rubbed my eyes and things just got stranger - a whole range selling in shops dedicated to street style. Intrigued I tracked down Phil, the founder of Go Vicinity / Road to hear how he had worked this miracle.
All the garments we produce have a conscience swing tag stating that everyone involved in the garment has been paid a decent living wage. The very fact that we make an issue of this is peculiar. When I first started the company 19 years ago it was something you took for granted; people who worked for you or with you got paid a fair wage. Now the company stands as the exception. It would be great if it stood as the example.
My most disturbing experience of was a visit to a factory in Bolton. Whilst I was being shown round the factory a woman pulled out a large drawer-like container from under the cutting table. In the whole of a factory making cotton goods this is the most dust-ridden area -and in the drawer was her infant child. It seems incomprehensible to have witnessed such a scene in England in the early nineties. Apparently old Victorian mills still manage to maintain old Victorian standards.
Our company produces ROAD and GO Vicinity ranges for men and women and has recently introduced a range for youths, Phat Rhythms. The clothes are individual in design with a definite feeling of rhythm. There is no compromise with regard to fit, function or quality of cloth -our quality is our hallmark.
The company has survived through floods, factory bankruptcy and more ups and downs than the hearts needs! But we have created a healthy export business and built a local work force in a rural area, while proving it is possible to build up a business without cheap labour as either an economic choice or the even more suspect excuse well if they did not have this they would have nothing at all?.
We operate through small factories and an independent shop network throughout the UK and Ireland and are now the most successful jean and casual bottom company on the independent circuit. By turning down all offers from the major High Street stores we have maintained our credibility. With this success we have been able to engage in ventures outside our day-to-day activities.
Through the fantastic people who run the 'Free Tibet' campaign we funded the building of a small school in the mountains of Tibet. We also organised a music festival in the Peak District where our business is based, to help local people hot by the effects of foot and mouth disease. We are now looking to open a centre in Derby for people off the bottom rung to encourage them in whatever field be it plumbing, computers, art. It'll be on a one-to-one basis - just like people who can afford it get tutors to help their own teenagers. We already have promises of money as soon as we get the right team together.
Our company is not against producing anywhere as long as fair wages and conditions for people old enough to be in employment are adhered to. The Fair Trade Organisation already has enough on its plate dealing with root causes. I'm sure it would not be difficult for more information to be necessary when importing goods. Children making children's clothes is not such a quaint idea.
Copyright © 1995 - Photius Coutsoukis (All Rights Reserved).
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