Saturday 4 May 2013

Sweatshop clothing

At our Bible study group today we got talking about the collapse of the sweatshop clothing factories in Bangladesh and about how we can avoid supporting such factories.  It's a topic Martin and I have been wrestling with for some years: we want to buy products from the Majority World in order to support the employment of desperately needy people; however, we'd rather buy from producers who treat their workers well, if at all possible.

Unfortunately, finding clothing produced in the Majority World in decent conditions is really difficult.  It's easiest to find baby clothing, then childrenswear, then womenswear: menswear is next to impossible.  For adults, T-shirts seem to be the easiest things to find, then really dressy clothes: everyday stuff is hard to source, as is underwear.

With those caveats, here's a list of all the retailers I've been able to locate that sell adult clothing:

Marketplacers (an initiative of the Baptist Union here in NZ)
Micah clothing

Womenswear only
Chandichowk (in the UK but ship internationally)

Menswear only
From the Source (in the UK but ship internationally)

Mens and womenswear
Spirals of Abundance (in the UK but ship internationally)
Eternal creation (in Nepal, ship internationally)
Kowtow clothing (mostly womenswear)
Nomads clothing (in the UK, mostly womenswear)
People tree (in the UK but ship internationally)

There are also various people who sell fair trade clothing on Amazon.

Note that we've never actually bought any fair trade clothing other than T-shirts and underwear ourselves.  When we need new clothes, firstly we'll look to see if we can buy them secondhand.  If that fails, we see if we can find anything fair trade that we like and can afford (most of the fair trade clothing is super-expensive).  If we can't, we then just buy something 'normal'.  At that point, we'd rather buy something that gave a poor person a horrible job in a sweatshop than buy something made in New Zealand that does the sweatshop workers out of employment altogether.

In addition, at our study group I mentioned an article reflecting on the building collapse in Bangladesh and how one Christian woman is trying to respond to it.  She includes a few links to information about fairly traded goods, although a cursory look at them seemed to suggest they mostly dealt with food rather than clothing.


  1. Thanks for this list. If you don't mind, I will pass the links on to friends. :)

    1. Please do! I've since found one more - Etiko in Australia :-) They sell shoes and underwear (as well as the much-easier-to-source T-shirts) and do free shipping to NZ on orders over $200.

      Their website is: