If the Shoe Fits and Looks Great, Do Ethics Really Matter?
I recently purchased a suit from the Canadian apparel company Judith & Charles. I was drawn by the cut and fabric, and sold on fit and price – at 30 per cent off, it was a steal. Days later, when removing the tags, I learned that my new skirt and jacket had been “tailored with love in Canada.” I went online to find that the company designs and manufactures ninety per cent of its collections locally. According to the website, it does so to be “supportive of the local economy… and have full control over our production, pushing our strongest assets – fit and quality – to the forefront.”
While “fit and quality” compelled me to buy, I’d like to think that the line’s commitment to doing business in Canada will transform me into a loyal customer. For me, it means most pieces are manufactured in an environment that is worlds away – literally and figuratively – from the deplorable conditions that were exposed when the Rana Plaza factory in Dhaka, Bangladesh collapsed killing more than 1,000 workers two years ago.
Though my act of ethical, albeit passive, consumption made me feel good about my suit, research suggests there are other, stronger influences at play when it comes to clothing purchases. In his article “Would you pay more for fair-trade socks,” Quentin Fottrell, personal finance reporter with MarketWatch, acknowledges.