Last week, it came to light in various right-wing rags that Momentum, the grassroots 'Old Labour' organisation behind a range of campaign t-shirts supporting Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, were made - and we're quoting the aforementioned right-wing rags - using 'slave labour' purchased by the garment company '3rd Rail'.
But what does this 'actually' mean? We checked out 3rd Rail to see what products they actually sold, and whether they could be responsible for the exploitation of workers, as the Mail on Sunday suggested.
3rd Rail's well-produced site, points to a number of services - screen printing, packaging design and reselling of blank garments for 3rd party printing. Among the brands that they sell are included Stella Stanley, Continental and Gildan. Both Stella Stanley and Continental are members of the Fairwear Foundation, a company that monitors and promotes fair working practices in garment producing countries - as well as subscribing to socially sustainable management practices. Continental is also a founding member of the UK's Ethical Fashion Forum, alongside THTC Clothing (we'd like to add :))
Gildan, which is actually one of the world's largest white label clothing manufacturers is a member of the Fair Labour Association, of which Nike, Adidas and a number of other large brands are also a member of. It currently has a number of complaints registered against it, as well as active ongoing cases relating to labour disputes. And it's Gildan's factories in Bangladesh and Haiti that become the focus of the Daily Mail's ire. Interestingly, it should be noted that they didn't choose to get comment from Gildan directly.
Of the three, it's no surprise that Gildan's clothing comes in the cheapest - especially as far as a purchasing NGO is concerned. Gildan supplies most of the world's music industry's merchandising - at a price point that sadly the likes of THTC couldn't compete with. 3rd Rail is a great little design studio that offers a huge range of production services to it's clients. We would hope that they might think twice about reselling for an unaccredited white label.
So the question really is this - when a campaign is run by a particularly charged bunch of civilians, most of whom are just standing up for what they believe in, and whom have little to no experience of purchasing and manufacturing practices of the fashion industry - much of which is exceptionally opaque - could they be forgiven for their ignorance?
On a capital scale, ignorance is the root of much suffering in the world. THTC takes it upon itself to educate its community and those around it, as to the outcomes of the choices they make as consumers. But not everyone sees our t-shirts, or reads our tweets and Facebook posts. Cheap shit costs lives. It's as simple as that. Momentum should have taken a moment to review the Gildan production methods and even just do a quick google on them - but they're just ordinary men and women, unversed in the complex world of fashion.
Unlike, say, the folks who advertise their high street businesses in the Daily Mail, Telegraph and Daily Express. We're not apologists for ignorance - we are champions against hypocrisy, however.
We live in a world where Primark, Next, Missguided, Top Shop and many others sell t-shirts for £5 a pop, fronted by sexy images of folk who got paid 10 years worth of a garment worker's wages. All of these brands produce in the same production complexes that Gildan produce in. In fact, many of them buy some of their blanks from Gildan via a complex, opaque chain of agencies and buyers.
And yet the Daily Mail, Telegraph and Daily Express don't seem to possess the same level of vitriol towards those brands - probably given that they purchase huge amounts of advertising in their respective papers and online. Nearly 3 years after the Rana Plaza disaster, Primark, Next and Top Shop are still basing business purchasing practices on the same shaky foundations. A quick browse through the lifestyle section of the Mail last month would have seen a Primark banner, front and centre of their webpage.
Indeed, a quick search of the Mail's own 'native advertising' section, aptly named 'Fashion Finder' - will turn up a bunch of labels such as Top Shop, DvF and Pretty Little Thing - all of which have no accreditation or are part of any Fair Labor unions.
Tory MP Stuart Andrew was quoted as saying of this whole affair, that ‘this exposes the hypocrisy of Jeremy Corbyn’s hard-Left supporters.' Funnily enough, he didn't have much to say about the hypocrisy of voting up austerity measures in Parliament, when he himself grossly overspent on his reelection campaign.
Hypocrisy is something that the Daily Mail have effectively monitised. We hope Momentum is able to recover from this publicity blow. And we'd like to think that they might consider changing a supplier to one that does possess good, strong ethical accreditations.
No names mentioned.
An idea for a t-shirt we had - made on ethically produced and sustainably grown hemp.
Comments will be approved before showing up.