Do sweat shops make good cheap product?

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Money Saving Polls
52 replies 8.6K views


  • DaisiesDaisies Forumite
    256 Posts
    panlane wrote: »

    The real problem with initiatives such as fairtrade is that they fail to recognise that they are and always will be a niche enterprise.

    If it is such a niche enterprise how come the Coop, which tends to have shops in poorer areas, is such a strong supporter of fair trade? All of their own brand coffee and chocolate are now fair trade. This is their answer:
    How come a "niche enterprise" now has clothing in high street stores such as M & S and Top Shop?

    I was trying to remember when the supermarkets first started selling clothes and when Primark, New Look etc first came on the scene. I'm now 27, and I can remember first shopping in New Look when I was about 18/19. So, where did everyone shop before these stores came into existence - people still managed to clothe themselves and their families?! Yesterday I was wearing an M & S jumper which I can remember saving up for when I was about 16/17 (it must have been about £25, which took me a while to save up when I was in sixth form I remember!), so it's over 10 years old now and still going strong.

    Also, the quality of the garments from cheaper stores isn't as good - I doubt I'd still be wearing something from Primark/New Look etc 10 years later, and the cut of the clothes is often skimpy and poor with poor quality fabric that doesn't wash well. And I have bought clothing in charity shops that originally came from M & S, Monsoon etc, but I don't think I can recall ever seeing any clothing from a cheaper shop in a charity shop, probably because it won't have worn so well so isn't resaleable. My SIL has said the same thing about baby and children's clothing - she gets good quality stuff from nearly new sales etc, which she finds is better value than buying from the supermarkets/Primark.
  • DaisiesDaisies Forumite
    256 Posts
    I was trying to find out if the cheaper stores were trying to do anything about ethics when they source/manufacture their clothing. Instead I found this article:,,1971712,00.html
  • I absolutely refuse to buy clothes from Primark, Adsa, Tesco, most designer labels etc. As far as possible, I'll seek out an ethical alternative or I'll go without.

    I agree with this and try to do the same, just wondered if you'd buy these labels from chairy shops? I buy ALL of my clothes from the local chairy shop.
    A Life Less Simple - one day I'll get there
  • I also agree with Mr Ringo about the sweatshops. It comes down to relative poverty. £1 to them might be equivalent to (say) 30 to us and will buy more. Also, they won't fritter away their earnings on the frivolities of life that we do.

    I see a small parallel here. We hear on the news that 'ethnic minorities' in the UK are poorer than the 'white' population (as though the word 'ethnic' refers to skin colour rather than country of origin) when in many cases they come from poor countries and don't have the same expectations that we might do as regards the luxuries of life.

    No, I think that the sweatshops are a step removed from abject poverty and might help towards steadily improved conditions. We would not be doing them a favour by removing their income but there are ways of putting pressure on improving their conditions, such as the Nike campaign a few years ago.
  • GingernutmegGingernutmeg Forumite
    3.5K Posts
    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker
    I absolutely refuse to buy clothes from Primark, Adsa, Tesco, most designer labels etc. As far as possible, I'll seek out an ethical alternative or I'll go without.

    I agree with this and try to do the same, just wondered if you'd buy these labels from chairy shops? I buy ALL of my clothes from the local chairy shop.

    I do buy from charity shops and ebay, but as far as possible I try to steer clear from stuff that I know isn't produced ethically - it's not a snob thing, but having studied human rights and in particular the working conditions of the women who make up the vast majority of garment workers, I really don't feel comfortable in clothes that have been made there. (Although my choice is made easier by the fact that I'm built for comfort, not for speed lol and there generally isn't much in my size :)) Also, to me it's a bit like the fur argument ... you can buy fake fur but to me, wearing that shows there's still a market for fur anyway ... so wearing second hand Asda/Primark stuff shows you're ok with buying it (not a brilliant example but hopefully you get my point).

    I don't do this to 'look down on people from my pedestal' ... if people ask me about my choices in clothing I'll explain why I won't shop in a certain place, and hopefully they'll think a bit more about their choices, but I certainly don't rant and rave at people. To me, it just seems odd that we've managed for hundreds (if not thousands) of years with a few, well made items of clothing, yet now we're seen as odd if we're not buying loads of new cheap stuff every week ...

  • udydudyudydudy Forumite
    559 Posts
    I am from a developing country, though I do not believe it is a third world country dependiong on what one wants to describe as third world!!!

    yes I have not worked for £1 a I glad and thankful for that!!! But I would like to thank a few MSites and jog a few (NOTHANKS) MSites out of their so called ethical stance... Here goes
    Thanks to Rictic +++++,Silkcutblue++++,ringo_24601, andrewsunday885, rdwarr, Idiophreak, mh1923,panlane

    NO THANKS to Theonlyrick++++, Gingernutmeg, Daisies, Wiggly_Worm

    The +++ means extra thanks or extra no thanks.

    The reason for this... Like a lot of the people who I have thanked and who seem to know the situation there. Firstly it is not a £1 it is Rs 85 in my country. If the father and mother worked and two kids worked(i.e if the family stops at 2 kids!) This feeds & clothes the fanily and also keeps them in a house and keeps them away from debt sharks...

    If the kids were to go to school the parents wud need to borrow from the debt sharks who charge anything from 100% a month. Then when the kids become earning age, i.e if they live that long they will be sold to these debt sharks and will work all their life to pay only the interest.

    if the UK NHS and the government is so starved of cash and is unable to meet the health care and benefits demands of a population of 50 million or so, how does one expect a country of over 1 billion to sustain its population the kids work and sustain themselves.

    so all you NO THANKS guys, take your custom elsewhere and keep your ethical minds at ease knowing that you have starved one more kid to death because you did not buy the clothes he made that would have fed him and maybe his little kid sister.... I would love to know how many of you guys would pay into a fund that takes care of these guys schooling, clothing and food until they are of working age!!! I would say none because they are busy paying most of these big name stores (who also buy their clothes from India & China as well) and fair it really fair?? then how come their products are so costly??? Production costs arent so high in India or China and cheaper so in other countries!!!

    I always buy from places like primark and so. I know the quality aint so good and the clothes need to be replaced every 4-6 months. but it gives me pleasure that atleast some kid somewhere in one of these countries has had his meal....I am not so bothered about the people who are making the money in between because most of them are multinational conglomerates who are being fed by these No thanks guys anyways!!!

    I have tried not to name any stores(for legal reasons) here as many big stores buy from China and India where in turn these are made by sweat shops because both countries(and other countries) majority workforce works in sweatshops. But then the ones who make the most money are the multinationals who then claim they do not know anything!!

    God save these no thanks ethical guys..who love to stay in their terraced houses and in the comfort of their benefit parachute knowing very well that if they lose their jobs their government will take care of them. Try staying in a third world country where if you do not earn you do not eat. Better still try staying hungry for one water(many places drinking water is also not available...) then talk of your ethics...

  • GingernutmegGingernutmeg Forumite
    3.5K Posts
    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker
    Udydudy - I find your post offensive and aggressive, and I'd like, if I may, to answer a few of the points you raise.

    Point 1 - I do pay into a fund that supports a child in a developing country. Through a charitable organisation, I support a child so they can stay in school and not be a burden on their family by doing so. I feel that giving a child an education is more important than forcing them to work in a factory making Nike shoes or Primark t-shirts. Call me idealistic. May I ask, do you support such a charity too?

    Point 2 - I do not live in a terraced house, nor do I claim any benefits, and nor do I expect the government to support me should I be unable to work. That is why I study, work and save hard. Your generalisations are offensive.

    Point 3 - Fair trade is more costly because a greater proportion of the cost goes to the producers. Of course, the compaines who ship, pack and sell the goods still want to make a similar amount as they do from non-fair trade products, pushing the price up.

    Point 4 - you seem to be missing the point that many of these sweatshops workers do not earn a FAIR WAGE. The argument is not that they don't earn any money, of course they do, but in a global market why should they be exploited? Many have to pay the factory owners for their food and accommodation, which is often totally insufficient, and many of the (mainly female) sweatshop workers have to turn to prostitution in order to gain a living wage. Many are held in what is in effect bonded labour, and the women especially are treated appalingly - forced to take contraception, forced to have abortions to keep their jobs. I do not want to support that, and I show that I don't by refusing to buy clothes that are produced in those conditions.

    Point 5 - I personally try to avoid supporting large MNCs as far as I can. Obviously, to a certain extent this is unavoidable in the West, but I deliberately choose the most ethical alternative I can. I find it offensive that you assume that I pick and choose what to be ethical about - I don't. My life would be a lot easier if I did lol.

    You are entitled to your opinion, as I am to mine. But please, get your facts straight before you insult people.

  • DaisiesDaisies Forumite
    256 Posts
    Udydudy - I think you have missed the point about fair trade, the reason it costs more is because the fair trade companies work with the people in the developing countries - providing them with expertise and training so they can increase the range of things they can manufacture or grow, providing them with clean water facilities, healthcare and education and investing in their communities - something that definitely doesn't happen with sweat shop labour. So no one then has to go to a loan shark to get money for education or healthcare or to purchase more seeds or fertiliser or whatever.

    Fair trade is also growing - so more and more people have access to these things.

    I do find your assumptions offensive - as talking to my ex-housemates, several of whom are from developing countries, they all try to buy fair trade as often as possible and are planning to work in this area when they return home. - because they know what a difference it can make in terms of health, education and wealth.

    Like Gingernutmeg I've been sponsoring a child for the last 6 years (4 of those whilst I was on a very low income myself) and that money goes into the whole of the local community so there is now a school and a clinic and a well. I also try and keep up with what is going on in his country and what the conditions are like as I like to know the facts and reality of things like sweat shops and fair trade.
  • Former_MSE_ArchnaFormer_MSE_Archna Former MSE
    1.9K Posts
    MSE Staff
    Poll Title: Poll Started 24 April 2007. Do sweat shops make good cheap product? You love shopping in your favourite cut-price clothing retailer or supermarket, but a verified report comes out that the reason it's so cheap is because it's paying 10 to 14 year olds only £1 a day in the developing world to make the goods. Which of the following is closest to your attitude?

    B. I'd try to find a viable alternative that didn't cost too much more.
    34.5% (1563 Votes)
    A. I'd immediately stop buying there regardless.
    28.4% (1287 Votes)
    D. I wouldn't feel good about it, but I can't afford to pay more.
    21.6% (980 Votes)
    E. If it saves me money, that's what counts.
    12.6% (571 Votes)
    C. I'd keep shopping there, but write demanding the company change its suppliers.
    2.7% (125 Votes)

    Total Votes: 4527
  • zfrlzfrl Forumite
    641 Posts
    Part of the Furniture Combo Breaker
    Wow what a thread. If I buy from these shops then I am supporting 1. The poorest people who make them & the millionaires who own the companies who sell them. 2. If I do not buy I am starving those who produce them & no one else cares (the millionaires still get rich).

    How do I get this right?
    "You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." Winston Churchill
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