Thursday 20 March 2008

Ethical Brand Profile - Skinnifit

Skinnifit are a Bristol based company established in 1999 to supply the promotional clothing and corporate marketplace. Their aim to "design and manufacture modern and highly wearable clothing, keeping an eye on style and fashion and a tight grip on quality".

They provide a summary of 'our methods' on their website that includes a summary of their ethical policies as follows:

"All of our factories (must) operate in full compliance of their country relating to all applicable laws, rules and regulations - including labour, worker health, safety and the environment.

All workers must be treated with respect and dignity and must not be subject to physical, verbal, sexual or psychological harassment in connection with their employment

All suppliers and factories must adhere to the all applicable labour laws including those related to hiring, wages, hours worked, overtime and working conditions

Workers must be free to join and organise any unions or associations of their own choosing. Where local laws limit the right of freedom of association, employers shall not obstruct alternative and legal means of free association.

There will be no use of forced labour."

I would have liked to have seen more up front rather than in a request to email for greater detail. There's no harm normally in being upfront on specifics. There's little or nothing I could find on environmental issues. Nothing on where their clothing products are sourced.

A quick search revealed potential Bangladesh suppliers (for example China Palace but no adverse reporting of abuses connected with the Skinnifit brand.

It was interesting to look at the websites of some of these Bangladeshi entities. The 'buying agent' Trendzgroup may or may not help supply Skinnifit with clothing sourced from a variety of factories. They boast of Bangladesh: "Cheapest labor cost allows the lowest manufacturing cost in the world." while at the same time have a section on the website dealing with workplace concerns "Our goal is to exceed requirements of local legislation and reach the global standards, and thereby support clients’ images and sourcing principles. We believe work place environment is the most important factor to get the best performance from the employees." Maybe the message is getting home that there are many Western companies who have to now think about the conditions of the supply chain they buy into.

Skinnifit does not make a song and dance about its green credentials or ethics and nothing can be found to directly criticise it, although like many of its competitors it is perhaps small enough to operate below the radar of the international fair trade monitoring organisations.

As ever, any further information is welcome and the best route is to leave a comment.

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