Boohoo put 'Made in UK' labels on clothes made overseas!

Posted by Ella & me on

It’s not very often that we comment on anything outside our own immediate sphere of focus, ie. the design & manufacture of intimate apparel, lets face it, you don’t come to us for our insight & opinion on what’s going on in the world.

But that said, something was reported this week that’s moved us to put pen to paper and it’s not the awful Royal Mail saga, although our hearts do go out to all those post masters & mistresses and the horrific ordeals they’ve been subjected to. 

We’re talking about the BBC Panorama report that states, fast fashion retailer Boohoo, have been putting ‘Made In UK’ labels in garments which they’ve imported from overseas! You can read the article here but just to be clear, we’re potentially talking about hundreds of thousands of garments, which have arrived from countries such as Pakistan containing labels originally stating that they’re ‘Made In Pakistan’ but have then been replaced at Boohoo’s own Leicester based office in order to state ‘Made In UK’. 

Allegedly a Trading Standards Officer was quoted as saying that this practice, ‘could potentially mislead customers’ & an MP said that it was a potentially very serious allegation. Disappointingly though there was no mention of any further action being taken. 

It’s a real slap in the face for genuine UK garment manufacturers and it’s yet just another example of how consumers are being misled by big retailers. Another common ruse deployed by retailers is the statement ‘Designed In The UK’, where busy, distracted shoppers could be forgiven for initially misinterpreting that as ‘Made In The UK’.

Boohoo have obviously released a statement saying blah, blah, human error, blah, blah, mistake etc. etc. and one independent, ethical compliance expert apparently said that the mislabelling suggested that there had been a ‘significant failure of inspection’…blimey, steady on! 

Having spent almost 40 years in this industry supplying garments to some of the biggest names on the high street, i can categorically tell you that this is no small, unintended error or failure of inspection. The directive to re-label imported garments to state ‘Made In UK’ has come from the top! 

We spend a considerable amount of time, painstakingly checking, double checking and more often than not, triple checking, garment label information before allowing labels to be sewn into garments. For such a small item, which by most people’s standards is taken for granted, it’s the only identifier that usually remains with the garment throughout its life. The lovely, elaborate swing tickets containing price & barcode information are usually consigned to the bin upon purchase, so the label sewn into the garment is of critical importance. 

Apart from the obvious size, wash care & fibre content details, sew in labels often carry information that is useful to the retailer such as season code, supplier / factory identification code, batch reference & colour, as well as foreign language translations in case product is sold in multiple countries. Ever bought a garment and the information sewn into it looks like a miniature phone directory? …well that’s why.

 If any of this labelling information is incorrect it can cause a big headache for retailers so it’s not taken lightly. This is why the Boohoo findings aren’t the work of some unfortunate administrative assistant who was having a bad day, the directive to mislead its customers was from senior level, just imagine Boohoo giving responsibility for a potential, reputation damaging issue to someone who wasn’t completely au fait with what they were doing, no? …me neither! 

Your average Boohoo customer, who’s more interested in cheap, disposable fashion, possibly doesn’t even care about indiscretions such as these. Let’s face it there has been so much bad publicity surrounding this company, from allegations  of using illegal immigrant workers, using their might to pulverise suppliers into submission over pricing & the draconian treatment of workers etc. all while it’s owners openly flaunt their hedonistic, excessive lifestyles on social media & it doesn’t appear to have the slightest impact on their popularity or any negative impact their business.

To the rest of us though, these things are important, we consider them the bedrock of our business, the reason why we need to ask our customers to pay £15 for a pair of our knickers, because they’re honest UK made garments, made in a friendly, respectful environment  right here in Manchester. They’re most definitely not imposters, deceptively masquerading as something they’re not for the self enrichment of the few.

Boohoo News Article


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