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Students Target Top Shop to Redress Fashion

Ric Lander | 07.12.2007 21:27

Student activists took to the high-street this week to expose the truth behind Top Shop's fashion. People & Planet members from all over the country protested against the Arcadia group's purchasing practices, sweatshop conditions and tacit support for child labour from the factory to the cotton field.

People & Planet groups all over Britain have been hanging out Top Shop's dirty laundry. Thursday's national day of action saw student activists causing a stir amid the Christmas shopping frenzy exposing the truth behind Top Shop its parent Arcadia Group's buying practices. The cotton growers and factory workers behind the brand have been victims of high-street exploitation that goes right up the supply chain and is not atypical in the fashion industry. A recent BBC Newsnight Report that cotton used to make Top Shop clothes was picked by using forced child labour in Uzbekistan (pictured) and a Sunday Times report claimed “Topshop's clothes made with 'slave labour'” in Mauritius [2]. Arcadia have been targeted by People & Planet, Behind The Label and War on Want as their extravagantly rich billionaire boss Phillip Green [1] has refused to take even the most basic step to improving standards by signing the Ethical Trading Initiative [3].

In Edinburgh (pictured) students set up shop outside the huge “Arcadia Tower” - home to many of Phillip Green's brands. They gave out flyers, installed a mock-washing line, and waved banners and placards accusing the chain of employing slave labour. Several of the group were given an audience with the shop's manager who reportedly stated he was sympathetic towards the issue and would raise it at their annual buyers fair.

Finlay Ross, a student at the Scottish Agricultural College, says: “It is obscene that Topshop CEO Philip Green's bonus in 2005 was enough to double the wages of the entire Cambodian garment workforce for 8 years! Improving labour standards would clearly not break the bank. We hope our actions will expose this injustice and force the company to make a serious commitment to workers' rights, such as a living wage and the right to organise in a trade union”.

1. Billionaire Sir Philip Green's Arcadia Group owns Topshop, Topman, Outfit, Burton, Dorothy Perkins, Evans, Wallis and Miss Selfridge. Despite a difficult retail climate, the company recently posted an annual operating profit of nearly £300 million, an increase of 1.6% in the year until 1 September.
2. Recent examples of unacceptable conditions in the Arcadia group's supply chain include a report from the BBC's Newsnight, which found Uzbek cotton - picked with forced child labour - in Topman's supply chain.
3. The Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI) focuses on improving the implementation of ‘codes of practice’ on supply chain working conditions. The ETI is an alliance of companies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and trade unions. It was set up in the late 1990s as a result of public pressure on companies to ensure decent working conditions for the people producing their goods.

Ric Lander
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10.12.2007 11:40

First photo is by me, Ric Lander, and shared as CC-Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike, so do what you like with it.
Second photo is copyright Environmental Justice Foundation (

Ric Again


Hide the following 2 comments

this site is not the scotland indymedia site

11.12.2007 12:47

it rarely gets used, and usually by people mistaking it for the 'proper' site: it is only still here, as i understand it, because indymedia-uk wont take the site down, because they are ... being difficult!


RE: Scotland

16.12.2007 21:10

Hi, I am aware of this and I didn't publish this article here, I published it on the UK site and simply ticked the "Scotland" box.



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