How much do we consider the origin of our clothes? I decided to ask some well known Cork women. First up, owner of Verso, Lisa Roberts.
Q When it comes to buying clothes, what’s your top priority?
A When it comes to buying clothes it depends on the reason I am purchasing for. If it is for an event I look for quality with a touch of affordability. My priority in this case would be to find something that makes me feel good and look good and if it is an expensive item, I would have to justify the cost by making sure it wasn’t a once of wear and that it could be and would be worn again.
If I was purchasing for everyday wear then because these would be bought more frequently I would be looking for style with affordability.
Q Do you know much about clothing manufacturing? What would be your impressions of the industry in general?
A Because I own a store, I am aware of where clothes are made and especially our clothing. We carry a wide selection of brands and styles in Verso and we find that a lot of the more exclusive and higher priced items are made by the brands themselves in their own factories which are situated in the country of origin such as Spain or the UK.
My impression of the clothing industry in general is that if everyone collectively was to be consciously aware of where and how certain clothing was made, it would or could make a difference. There is no denying that in certain parts of the world people are working in appalling conditions but this is never going to be dealt with accordingly until the demand for cheaper items stops and for that to happen it would be a collective intervention from the factory owner, business owner, Government, right down to the person buying the item in a store.
The bulk of our lower priced items would be sourced and manufactured in China. What worries me is that there seems to be more and more items now being made in other poorer countries which would make you ask why ? Any human being would ask that…
Q Do you think that more expensive brands are more likely to treat workers better?
A I honestly wouldn’t know. If a well known brand has there own factory and
actively oversee the business conducted in house and if it was in a country where labor laws were actively adhered to then I would be sure of it but if the manufacturing of their collection was contracted out to a factory in a country of question then you would never really know would you…
Q Is it something you have researched or are you happy to trust your favourite brands?
I have researched where our clothing comes from and I do converse with our suppliers and agents and I am finding that, as mentioned previously , a lot of our clothing is made in house by their own factories in the country of origin such as the UK or Spain.
However, there is no doubt that lower priced items in any store would be or could be from mass producing factories. From speaking to our suppliers of such items we are finding that they have a very good relationship with the factories in China that they use and have visited them in the course of their ordering. I have spent years in the fashion industry and have dealt with many suppliers and agents so I am aware and it may be worth noting that there are factories that do what they should and do, and it well when it comes to labor laws and employees unfortunately there are the ones that just won’t do this.
Q Do you ever ask about the sourcing of the clothes – is this a priority for your customers?
Only 10% of my customers would ask where clothing comes from but we do volunteer the information on many occasions when we are talking to a customer about a certain brand or label.
This project is supported by the Simon Cumbers Media Fund.