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£225 buys you access to an exclusive view of Ethical Fashion

planB4fashion | 07.07.2013 17:32 | Culture | Globalisation | Migration | London

If you have £225 to spare you can attend a conference from the "Ethical Fashion Forum" at the Chrystal Conference Centre this Friday in London's Docklands. The event will brief deligates in how to appear "Ethical" without mentioning the UK governments' call for more transparency in Bangladesh or the EU parliaments' motion urging tariff rises if Bangladeshi human rights don't improve.

If you thought you had a view of ethics and the clothing industry, such as an interest in fair trade, organics, vegan products or products made in democratic welfare states, then there is a trade event that thinks it represents you.

"The event will take place at The Crystal, London: one of the most sustainable buildings in the world and the networking will begin in bubbles sailing over the Thames as delegates arrive by cable car, taking in breathtaking views of London. The day will include inspirational speakers, focused forums, tailored networking and in-depth masterclasses."

"In the wake of the Bangladesh garment factory collapse of 24.04.13 the Summit will aim to constructively address challenges, share and learn from best practice and innovation."

The event's organisers, Ethical Fashion Forum, lurch from "Ethical" to "Sustainable" in their rubric, suggesting some difficulty with the spikier ethics that might apply to fashion such as whether it is made in a democratic welfare state according to blogger PlanB4fashion, which hopes to broaden debate and the way ethical fashion is reported.

"It's hard to talk about a welfare state, or an autocratic one, or the wrongs of wearing leather if you work for the fashion industry", says John Robertson of PlanB4fashion, "but that is Ethical Fashion Forum's background: they were set-up by people who imported clothes from China, and they are now a group of far-east factory inspectors. They also employ people who do internships instead of signing-on the dole between jobs, so they may not be aware that the UK is a welfare state".

A founder member of Ethical Fashion Forum, Terra Plana the shoe brand, wrote on a web blog that China is "arguably more democratic than the UK".

A director of Ethical Fashion Forum has cautioned buyers against buying British-made goods on ethical grounds, on a page that makes no mention of the UK's record on democracy, access to justice or services like the NHS.

Ethical Fashion Forum remains confident of its expertise, describing itself as "the industry body" for ethical fashion, as though representing a consensus on issues such as Bangladeshi working conditions, union recognition, or national insurance.

The European Parliament, in contrast, demonstrated a much more radical consensus with near universal support for a motion calling for conditional tariffs against Bangladesh if Bangladeshi human rights do not improve. Presumably, no Euro MPs will pay £225 to go to the Ethical Fashion Source Summit, and, if they do, they will not be invited to speak, so the sense of un-challenged expertise will continue as deligates "network" and attend "Forums and Masterclasses offering in depth training and intelligence in your area of interest" such as "Market opportunities and Communicating Sustainability".


Links: which is just a blog - prospectus for the show

European Parliament resolution of 23 May 2013 on labour conditions and health and safety standards following the recent factory fires and building collapse in Bangladesh - link to full text including paras 5 and 7: the consensus that will not be mentioned at Ethical Fashion Source Network or by the fashion magazines that report it.

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In their own words... slideshow for the summit

07.07.2013 17:45

Ethical Fashion Forum's slideshow to promote the £225 event

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In their own words... Ethical Fashion Forum

07.07.2013 17:50

In their own words... Ethical Fashon Forum's Source Summit
In their own words... Ethical Fashon Forum's Source Summit

In their own words... Ethical Fashion Forum
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there was a link from but it's down just now

08.07.2013 07:42

There was a link from but it's not online just now. The Centre for Sustainable Fashion at Dray Walk in London was part of University of the Arts' London College of Fashion. It worked within the industry and so was constrained in talking about tariffs or governments, but did have an influence in training fashion students and offering consultancy. To see the story in their own words click below
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tweets will use the hashtag #sourcesummit

08.07.2013 14:05

tweets will use the hashtag #sourcesummit

planB4fashion #sourcesummit
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Response from the Ethical Fashion Forum

08.07.2013 19:13

Dear Indymedia,

I am a fan of what you do and what you stand for. As Managing Director of the Ethical Fashion Forum, I am writing to give our side of the story on the Ethical fashion Forum and the SOURCE Summit.

We are a small not for profit organisation, absolutely committed and dedicated to better practices in the fashion industry. You quote £225 as the price of attending the SOURCE Summit- in fact our prices started at £65, and we are also live streaming the event - free for people to attend from anywhere online. However, we are determined to be heard with this event- and that means running it in a higher profile way. You can't do that without any money- even if you run an event at cost, which is what we are doing.

As a forum for collaboration in the industry, we have always been inclusive- by bringing together individuals and businesses from every part of the industry , we are able to get constructive debate going, and this has catalysed some very effective partnerships and initiatives. There is no question that the majority of the industry is not doing enough to address the appalling conditions for workers that remain endemic in many parts of the world. There are organisations whose remit it is to campaign against this and expose the companies that are not doing enough about it- this is important, and it needs to continue.

Our remit is to work with companies, offering them the tools, access to information, inspiring and motivating their staff, building connections and fostering collaboration across the sector, in order to meaningfully improve standards and conditions.

We recently launched a Call to Action on Bangladesh, and it has had a very wide response from the professional fashion sector:

We would be very interested to work with you, PlanB4fashion, and take on board your ideas.

We would also absolutely welcome speakers from the European Parliament to this and other events. Panel speakers do not pay to attend- they do normally ask for expenses if travelling though- so, as a social enterprise, we do need a business model for our events! Which means charging a fee to attend. Our fees are a fraction of the event fees of other mainstream industry events. If anyone has bright ideas on how we can run an event like this without charging fees to delegates, they are most welcome!

Finally, we really welcome the voices of the readers of Indymedia at SOURCE Summit- attend online, FREE of charge, by registering here -

Hoping to connect with you there, and welcoming you to join the debate,

Tamsin Lejeune
Managing Director
Ethical Fashion Forum and SOURCE

Tamsin Lejeune
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The difference between us is on your "made in england" page

09.07.2013 18:06

Dear Tamson Lejeune
the difference between us is on the "issues ... made in britain" page of your web site, at the bottom.

"trade in garments and textiles has created a springboard for industrial development all over the world- with Britain and America being amongst the first to benefit followed by the “Asian Tiger” economies of Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea, and more recently, China and India. Producing garments or components of garments outside of the UK to sustainable standards can assist development in some of the poorest communities in the world, create sustainable livelihoods and reduce poverty for thousands of people."

I think that national insurance, secondary schools, hospitals, accesss to justice, and votes should happen before or during an industrial revolution and be forced to happen.

Votes, for example, happen in Taiwan and Hong Kong but not in China. People in China have been waiting rather a long time, I think, and are unlikely to get universal pensions or healthcare until they have votes. It's an odd country because the single child policy has forced wealth to spread a bit - there is not the population explosion that's happened in Bangladesh.

Thinking of other ways to reduce a population explosion, I think that pensions, healthcare and health education, contraception, and girls' secondary schools all help; if girls are more assertive and there is less pressure to have children to look after you in old age, then the population might not explode so rapidly. People in Bangladesh have been waiting rather a long time national insurance, given that the UK had a National Insurance Act in 102 years ago in 1911. The prime minister of the UK could simply have telegrammed the Viceroy of Inda, Lord Hardinge, (pictured if the upload works) and floated then idea but apparently it didn't work like that. I don't think that Bangladesh or Pakistan are going to change any time soon while some people in the country do very well out of their neighbours being poor. There is even enough money in government for an export subsidy, but not enough for a heath service. There is a risk that Bangladesh could loose market share if other countries do not introduce a national insurance system too. Cheap labour, and the flow of aid, both happen when there are a lot of poor people.

"It is only by raising standards and wages outside of the UK that the UK garment production sector will again be in a position to compete on equal terms with production in what are currently low wage economies."

If you are convinced that there should be national insurance or high tariffs built-in to the prices of clothes from Bangladesh, then we can agree on this last paragraph. And such a large change of position would prompt you to re-write the first part of the page as well,

- stating that goods made in welfare states are more expensive for good reason, offering better conditions for their workers than a fairtrade scheme. You might become interested in
- how people who live in welfare states can seek-out goods made in them, which will probably be by mail-order rather than high street chainstores. An example is the one that your "made in Britain" swing tag logo came from, which has since had to lay-off its staff. You will want to
- criticsise London Fashion week for the way it puts UK factory workers out of work by offering free PR to companies like Terra Plana which made its shoes in China and made rediculous claims. You would
- explain how companies in South Europe now, or the UK in 1979-2009, were devistated by whimsical changes of exchange rate dictated by central banks rather than the goods market. That's why their designs are mainstream and their sales methods geared to particular markets.
- mention how the UK needs a rebalanced economy to pay the taxes that pay for a welfare state, now that payments from financial services have dropped by billions.

I'm sure you would want to do some of those things if we agreed with each other.

Meanwhile, I'll type another draft of your "issues/made-in-britain" page in case you can use it for the moment as you're busy with a trade show, and Bangladesh is the hot topic at the moment rather than Middleton or Rushden or Rossendale or Nottingham or Hinckley or Northampton.
John Robertson

John Robetson, blogging as planB4fashion
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dear indymedia?

09.07.2013 22:59

Oh dear, you claim to be a "fan of indymedia" but start your comment "dear indymedia" as if addressing a single organisation, without understanding that indymedia is a platform.. rofl


China "arguably more democratic" than the UK: who approved that?

10.07.2013 14:29

From Ethical Fashion Forum's "founding members" page...

"Terra plana is a shoe company focused upon innovative, sustainable shoe design.Terra Plana uses a variety of eco friendly materials ... ... ..."

From Ethical Fashion Forum's "business leaders" page ...

"Jules went on to set up Inside Out agency working with hemp pioneers THTC along with a variety of other innovative brands.

Jules has been joined at Foundation by ethical fashion consultant Rosie Budhani, who will head up the PR and marketing division of Foundation, Rosie also has extensive experience in mainstream and ethical fashion and most recently ran the PR department for award winning ethical shoe brand Terra Plana."

From Ethical Fashion Forum's "founding members" page...

"From Somewhere

From Somewhere is a designer womenswear brand. From Somewhere collections are made from left-over fabric from garment factories which would otherwise be discarded."

"Filippo Ricci and Orsola De Castro, founders of From Somewhere, are dedicated to promoting and facilitating sustainable practices in fashion, and were responsible for initiating the Estethica exhibition which is now an established part of London Fashion Week, as well as a number of other projects in the sector."

Conclusion: the claim about China "arguably more democratic" was made on Terra Plana's web site from 2008, while they were getting taxpayer-funded PR from part of London Fashion Week, called Estethica. Both the Terra Plana company and the company of the person who manages Estethica, Orsola De Castro's "From Somewhere", were founder members of Ethical Fashion Forum. Orsola De Castro also worked for a year or so as a Director of Ethical Fashion Forum. And the PR agent for Terra Plana, Rosie Budhani, gets a promoted on the Ethical Fashion Forum's site amongst "New Entrepreneurs". So the editor who allowed this brand to be shown, the brand itself as a company, and the PR agent they had at the time, all get promotions on the Ethical Fashion Forum web site.

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You are invited to an ethical fashion PR masterclass

27.07.2013 16:52 is a link to a fake checklist of techniques to make Chinese and Bangladeshi imports sound more ethical and UK-made clothing harder to talk about. Well the list is fake, but the quotes are real.

Ethical Fashion PR Masterclass
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Can Fashion be Fair?, published 2004 by Tamsin Lejeune

09.06.2014 18:16

The cheek is admirable: making-up a past in order to appear an expert.
Expertise offered is the opposite of admirable: an attempt to promote goods from countries without a democratic welfare state, using grants from just one such, competing with firms in areas like Europe that do not have wealthy trade associations or PR agencies or even their own governments prepared to use these grants for their intended purpose. is a link to part of the background to Ethical Fashion Forum, including claims of a publication ("Can Fashion be Fair"), of two degrees, or a previous career in architecture, and a job as a muslin dress importer.

Parts of this CV are true: this person has genuinely influenced teacher training for teachers in fashion colleges, she has often appeared as a guest speaker or a journlalist's interviewee, she really does appear at staged events with like-minded pundits to define ethics in favour or Nike or China, and she has genuinely signed successful grant applications to government departments. Some of what she says about re-using old garments is even quite nice.

It's not nice to link to a page that debunks anyone's CV, but poverty and bad government are not nice either, and people in any democratic welfare state, or in countries like Bangladesh, deserve more open discussion about what's fair competition and what reduces poverty.
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You are invited to a masterclass in Fashion PR for big business

15.06.2014 13:03

By planB4fashion (a link to this on the planB4fashion facebook page no longer works)

You are invited to a masterclass in Fashion PR for big business

Say the meaningless "ethical" word and then the quite vague "sustainable" word very quickly afterwards. That way you sound agreeable but can avoid talking about organic, vegan, or fairtrade fashion, and if you want you can avoid talking about the politics of China or Bangladesh and importing goods from those countries on a 0% tariff. Example:
"I am particularly grateful to colleagues on the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ethics and Sustainability in Fashion for their hard work".

Pretend that all apparell manufacturing is done in the third world, so that you can compare conditions between one bad place and another rather than with conditions in the UK and other democratic countries with welfare states and good human rights records. This rules-out any mention of local jobs being lost as clothes are imported from China, and makes discussion of whether a welfare state paid for by garment factories seem rather distant and irrelevant.
"Fashion today is both global and local, and even much of the produce of many of our high-profile "heritage" British brands, such as Burberry, Aquascutum and Crombie, is often all or mostly made outside the UK. The global nature of the fashion industry means that it is imperative that we work with colleagues internationally"

Make up some figures suggesting that the fashion import company which runs a chainstore and imports the clothes is the real beneficiary to the UK economy, helping money circulate right around the UK to create jobs growth and taxes.
"Despite the high level of garment manufacture carried out overseas, the estimated value of UK-manufactured clothing and textiles in the UK was £8.1 billion in 2011, and the overall estimated export value of UK clothing and textiles was £7.3 billion" (source probably The Value of Fashion report commissioned by British Fashion Council from Oxford Economics)

Start talking about UK manufacturing very broadly, without mentioning recession, jobs, defecit between tax and spending, poverty, voters, foodbanks, factory closures, and then suddenly introduce ethics-sorry-I-meant-other-issues and divert discussion to the other issues. So fashion is
"within the BIS [Department for Business] agenda because of the manufacturing element [...] in November last year, Business Secretary Vince Cable promised government support to breathe new life into UK textile manufacturing as a study revealed that the cost gap with Asia is narrowing. Can the Minister tell the House how far such plans have gone and the extent to which sustainability and ethics in fashion is a priority consideration?"

Try to get another department to handle fashion than the Department for Business. Defra will do.
"Will the Minister undertake to set up a meeting with me and other Members of both Houses on the APPG to discuss how we can best help to support the development of this part of the fashion sector? We need to get a commitment to develop practical, effective strategies across the different departments for realising the potential of rethinking how we "do" fashion. Because of its experience with the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan, Defra is perfectly placed to broker and animate the necessary discussions."

"the British Fashion Council's Esthetica Showcase at London Fashion Week", sponsored by Monsoon. So if their lordships think that debating is dull and irrelevant to anything, it sounds as though real people believe all this stuff. Ask anyone about Esthetica Showcase sponsored by Monsoon, and maybe thay'll say "you politicians aren't popular, but now I know that you're helping Esthetica Showcase sponsored by Monsoon instead of talking about tax and jobs and the welfare state, I know you're one of the good ones". (made-up quote). — at House Of Lords - John R
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