Thank you to everyone who completed our online survey these past 10 days. We have been bowled over by the number of responses, and the helpfulness of what you have told us.
We want to highlight some of the key themes and clear conclusions that emerged.
Why do you not always buy clothes that you know were made fairly?
- When I buy clothes I am not told how the workers are treated
- Ethically sourced clothes are not fashionable
- Ethically sourced clothes are too expensive
- Social ethics are not a priority for me when buying clothes
- I don’t buy clothes on the internet which reduces my options
Three quarters of you responded that one of the reasons you don’t always buy clothes that you know were made fairly is because you are not told how the workers are treated. Unsurprisingly, a number of you added that it takes too long to research companies and it is simply too difficult to do so. We totally share that same experience.
Therefore, it needs to be much easier to find out how the workers who make your clothes are treated.
More than half of you told us that the second reason that you don’t always buy clothes that were made fairly is simply cost. This is in line with the many conversations we have had with people throughout this journey.
Therefore, there needs to be more fairly made clothes available that you view as affordable.
When we asked you what a fair price would be for a t-shirt where everyone is treated fairly – the average came in at £16.50. Of that, you felt that it was acceptable for £5.80 to be kept by the brand to cover costs etc. The reality in the general clothing market is that the standard practice is for brands and retailers to retain considerably more than this. For example, at the designer end of the market Everlane have created an infographic that shows the amount that is typically added on to a t-shirt before being sold.
Brands need money to operate and grow whilst customers are very influenced by cost when buying clothes. To keep prices low whilst maintaining their mark ups, the majority of brands – who do not have fairness at the core of their DNA – squeeze across the supply chain and are continually looking for cheaper and cheaper suppliers. A breakdown of costs would be one tool for customers to judge whether everyone in the supply chain is being treated fairly, and whether the product is being sold at a fair price.
This raises the question – is it possible for a company to tell its customers where all the money goes so that they can decide what is fair?
We are going to explore these themes further on our blog, and will share with you how what you have told us influences our business model.
In the meantime, between us we are currently visiting India, Bangladesh, Kenya and Uganda to connect with people on the ground whose job it is to make the clothes we wear. More updates to come…