Who made your clothes? And other important questions you should ask before you shop

If you’re reading this we’re guessing you’re already aware of a (long overdue) ethical consciousness that’s currently sweeping the fashion industry. Fast fashion, throwaway fashion, cant-believe-your-eyes-it’s-so-cheap fashion are all terms that, not so long ago, made most of us very excited. I mean, who doesn’t love a bargain! But, as the adage says, if something seems too good to be true - if the price is insane, if the trends hit the shelves too quickly, and if, ultimately, you don’t care about what you’ve just bought because it’s only worthy of a one-wear wonder - then it usually is. Cue some pretty important warning bells. For the fashion industry, these cheap prices mean cheap wages, and cheap wages mean people are being forced to live lives we would, quite frankly, be appalled by. They also often mean unsafe working conditions which tragedies like the unforgettable Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh is dark reminder of - the collapse of the building in 2013 killed more than a thousand garment industry workers and injured thousands more. A high price to pay for a cheap price tag.

This movement is being spearheaded by Fashion Revolution who ask brands to make the right manufacturing decisions and to stand by them with the socially aware #WhoMadeMyClothes - it’s a necessary and meaningful organisation. Go check them out. 

https://www.fashionrevolution.org

So what does this all mean at Tobias & the Bear? 

For us, this currently means we manufacture everything in the UK. We know the people who own the factories. We can visit them at the drop of a hat and we can talk to the seamstresses. In short, we’re confident that the people making our clothes are being paid a fair wage. 

But why buy from us, when you can buy much cheaper on the High Street - surely not all the big guns are working with unsafe factories who underpay their staff? 

Hopefully not! But without full knowledge we can’t comment on other stores, it wouldn’t be ethical. But we can explain why our prices are higher than the high street. Because we work with factories that pay a fair wage, that means the price we pay is higher too. We’re also a small brand who can’t compete with the quantities that the bigger stores order. Where we might make 300 of a style, they might be making 10,000. The price reflects this too. What you know when you shop at Tobias & the Bear though, is that we’re working tirelessly to bring you cool and original designs (all designed by us, in-house) with an ethical footprint we’re proud of. 

Will we always produce our collection solely in the UK?

No. We want to be very honest about this. We’re not against global manufacturing - providing we have all those important questions answered. We love working in the UK, with experts we trust and can visit so easily, and we will continue to do so for as long as possible, if not forever! But there are some products that simply can’t be manufactured here and to build the collection we do need to expand our manufacturing overseas. We’re working hard to ensure we’re ticking all the boxes we believe in. But we also believe that we’re part of one world, we sell globally afterall, and we’re happy to manufacture globally too. We’re looking forward to developing new relationships across this incredible planet of ours and helping to support these workers too. 

Is that everything? 

Not quite... ethical manufacturing is not just a flashy social media ideal. It’s real and businesses like us are working hard to ensure fair working conditions. The supply chain is not always transparent but we try to be as transparent as possible. But of course, this isn’t the only big issue facing brands like us right now. Another very real, very urgent issue, and one that we’re hugely passionate about, is being eco-conscious. We’ll be talking more about this VERY soon. As we said, were part of one world and it’s a world we need to protect. Follow us on Instagram to find out more.