Made in China .

Many of our clothes come from China and that is the reason that they are so cheap. I can remember when I was a teenager clothes were much more expensive and I had a lot less of them. Today there is an amazing choice because of cheap imports from China.

However not everyone is jumping on the Made In China bandwagon and some have opted out. Mostly this is happening in the USA as they see huge job losses in their country as the manufacturing has moved to China. I came across a blog in the course of my research and a slogan which is proving popular with customers in the USA is “NOT MADE IN CHINA” .

One family on a blog I discovered has made it their goal to stop buying Chinese products where possible but they say it can be very difficult. If they can source a similar product from a reliable source where conditions are good they will go for that or try to do without. The foremost reason they have taken this decision is that they are Christians and are taking a stand against a regime which they see as being repressive. They say that when conditions improve for the people in that country then they will reconsider.

http://www.notmadeinchinalife.com/

They are not alone. http://www.friendsoftibet.org/mic/This sight lists some prominent figures  including the Dalai lama who urge people to boycott goods from China because of the brutality against Tibetans .

I asked around some of my friends and family to see what they thought about buying goods from China and whether they would continue to buy cheap goods from there even if they knew that the working conditions in some factories were horrendous and that the workforce is often exploited.

My friend Maggie said that she would definitely boycott any goods where the workers were not treated humanely and likes to buy “Fair Trade’ goods when she can. Also she buys some of her clothes from a company called Nomads which is a Fair Trade clothing company.

Another friend I asked for his thoughts on buying goods from China said that most people have bought goods from China which have used cheap labour and that maybe they would be worse off if we stopped buying their products.

My daughter Rachel had a look through her toddlers clothes and said that most of them were made in China ,she buys a lot of the baby clothes in Next. The clothes that were not from China were made in Italy and were clothes which I had passed on to her from my youngest daughter. She said that the clothes that were labelled Made in Italy were far superior in design and quality and always looked good but the cheaper Made in China clothes were fine for everyday and a fast growing child. I asked her if she thought you could hand the garments down the generation like I had done with my Italian bought clothes and she said no not the ones from China.

My daughter observed that if she could afford to she might not buy her child’s clothes from China.  Despite the fact that workers there may be suffering bad conditions price was paramount. She said people were too busy, too tired to think after working all week and if people could get cheap goods that were fit for purpose then most people wouldn’t really care about their provenance.  I asked her if buying less but better quality was an option she would consider and she said it might be.

My wardrobe is stuffed with clothes .  I decided to look at a few of my favourite  pieces and see where they were made.First a Moschino jacket, made in China. This jacket is well made and the tailoring is excellent .

Pringle of Scotland knitted skirt- silly me, I thought this at least would be made in Europe but no- made in China. Good quality and expensive.

Max Mara jacket, made in please let it be Italy… Doesn’t say!

Peruvian Connection dress, expensive and well made- made in China.

One of my favourite brands is Avoca Ireland, jumper and skirt – made in EU.

Out of Exile cardigan, lovely design and embellishment-made in England.

Tate & Style scarf-, funky and good quality -made in Scotland.

Most of my clothes are produced in China .  I found out about a town just outside of Florence in Italy where the Chinese have moved in and are producing cheap goods with a Made in Italy label. This has upset many of the locals who want their area to be associated with high end quality products. In this case the Chinese  immigrants have been producing on demand fashion in sweatshop conditions right in the very country that has become synonomous with luxury fashion. http://welkerswikinomics.com/blog/2010/11/22/the-great-wealth-of-china-shaping-the-world-economy/

What is upsetting the locals is that the Chinese are sending their profits home to China and not investing it back into Italy and also it is claimed that they are becoming more adept at tax evasion than even the Italians themselves.

I think China can produce quality goods but they are expensive, but that applies everywhere not just in China. I think that the better quality goods which are produced in China are for established western brands who insist on a quality product. These same western brands are having to insist on better working conditions for the employees who work at their factories because customers are becoming more enlightened as to working conditions. They don’t want to feel guilt about products they buy and brands have to keep their customers happy or sales will drop and their reputations will suffer.

I think over all we all need to be more aware of where our goods come from and the impact the production has on lives and the environment.  I for one would like to see brands declaring what factories they use so they are accountable for what goes on inside them.

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