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Keeping trade fair

The big question this week – are multiples merely paying lip service to organic and fair trade clothing? It was Katharine Hamnett, perhaps the UK’s most visible flag bearer for organic and ethical fashion, who last week lit the touch paper on the debate.

Last week she announced she was to sever her supply ties with Tesco.

A contract with Tesco is the supplier equivalent of winning the EuroMillions lottery, so finding a designer willing to put the kibosh on one due to her principles is something of a turn up.

Hamnett’s disapproval centres around her disappointment at the limited distribution, capped at 40 stores, and lack of in-store merchandising of her ethically-sourced organic fashion range Choose Love. Speaking in Drapers last week Hamnett said:

“I was initially excited about the tie-up because I thought we could increase demand for ethical products. I’ve come to the conclusion that Tesco simply wants to appear ethical, rather than make a full commitment to the range.”

This latest twist in the high street ethical fashion debate follows reports in The Guardian and The Sunday Times accusing players including Tesco, George at Asda, Primark, Mothercare, Matalan, Gap and H&M of using clothing exporters in India and Bangladesh who pay factory workers questionably low wages.

So I put it to you, the fashion community: is the high street doing enough to support organic and fair trade clothing, or is it simply jumping on what it perceives to be the latest consumer bandwagon? Perhaps you work at a supplier or even a high street retailer and have an interesting story to tell, under a pseudonym of course.

If you have something to say, please let us know via the comment box at Drapers Blog.

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