Thursday, 7 January 2010

Of garments and guilt

A curious little news item picked up last year by Fashionista was "Eco-factories undeterred by label setback", a little piece by Leonie Barrie for Just-Style. Leonie reports that the Sri Lankan apparel industry has been thwarted in its plans to label garments stocked in major US and EU retailers with its 'Garments without Guilt' slogan. The Garments without Guilt scheme, initially promoted in 2006, reassures buyers that clothing sourced from Sri Lanka has been produced in factories that are free from child and forced labour, discrimination and sweatshop conditions.

Retailers, however, are not all happy about highlighting the ethical provenance of their stock. According to the chairman of the island's Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF), if you put a label on what's coming out of Sri Lanka to say that it's okay, the implication picked up by shoppers is that everything else on the shelf may not be so clean.

More than 130 factories are now independently audited under the Garments without Guilt label, totalling between 80% and 85% of the island's apparel exports.

Fashionista, ever sensitive to the profound philosophical implications of fashion retailing, observes that the very first reference to clothing in the Bible alludes to 'Garments with Guilt', when Adam and Eve decided on an impromptu cover-up job having eaten the forbidden fruit.
Modeliste loves the 'Garments without Guilt' campaign and adores slogan, but she has a little confession to make: it resonates in her mind with the act of committing her credit card to yet another objectively unjustifiable purchase, not with the sourcing of the garment concerned.