Over the last few years, really following the collapse of the garment factory Rana Plaza in Bangladesh, I have become more conscious who I buy from on the high street, first of all boycotting Primark for the repeated ill treatment of factory workers in the press and then Topshop after the BHS/Philip Green carry on and then Littlewoods and Very online when I discovered the parent company was intentionally selling exactly the same goods more expensively on one site they owned than on another. Then it was the sports brand Under Armour for supporting and even glorifying the hunting & killing of big game animals and then every brand who are exploiting people in warehouses, Amazon, JD Sports, across the country which seem to me to be not much of an improvement on the workhouses of Victorian England.
Of all the fashion brands on the high street River Island has been my favourite offering great friendly customer service in store and some items still made from better quality fabrics.
Also one of the few independently owned, British family run businesses that I felt I could trust.
I have been purchasing their staple long vests in all colours for about 7 or 8 years as no one else makes a pure cotton vest long enough for me. They are good quality and a good deal at £6.00 or 2 for £10.00.
So here's my problem, I need new vests, I cannot find any anywhere else but when I watched Channel 4's Dispatches I discovered River Island were one of the brands exploiting garment workers, not overseas but here in the U.K. using factories that were under paying their staff in order to secure the River Island business.
It is very tough to be ethical and not give River Island the business when I need something myself and the more ethical alternative is simply too expensive. I have not purchased anything from River Island since the Channel 4 documentary aired out of principle, even returning 2 pairs of unworn boots purchased in the sale in protest and know that unless people stop shopping in stores that don't care about the people that work for them nothing will change. I haven't caved in yet so if anyone can offer a pointer if it exists to a smaller company making nice cotton vests and Ts affordably and sustainably there's a customer here.
Other snoops by Margaret Clayton