WAKEFIELD – Fast fashion is a feminist issue according to the MP leading the ongoing UK Parliamentary select committee enquiry into the environmental impact of the fashion industry. In an exclusive interview with latest printed edition of Apparel Insider, Mary Creagh, a Labour MP and chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, told us: “Women in the West have purchasing habits that are fuelling the systematic exploitation of women in this country and abroad. That is a very profound moral question for us to ponder as a committee.”
We caught up with Creagh at her home constituency of Wakefield to find out about the latest state of play with the enquiry and what it hopes to achieve.
The Leicester garment sector was an obvious starting point for our discussion, where there is evidence of non-payment of the minimum wage and cowboy operators. There are ongoing investigations into the sector in Leicester, where many UK brands, including Asos, Missguided and Boohoo currently source from. Creagh told us: “Members of the committee have been visibly shocked by some of the evidence we have heard in this enquiry in relation to Leicester.
“We have had stories of fire escapes in garment factories being blocked, of auditors being throttled by factory owners. If that is how they treat auditors, how are they treating workers?”
It’s a reasonable question. Is factory auditing the answer? Creagh thinks not. “As long as you have a business model which is based on auditing factories you will only see what you want to see,” she says. “The way you challenge worker exploitation is through freedom of association and the ability to unionise.”
Read the full interview in our next printed magazine, out late January. Subscription details HERE