We operate in a global marketplace. Textile manufacture and production is one of the largest industries worldwide, accounting for around 4% of GDP and over 6% of the world’s employment opportunities. (Source WTO)
Our operations at Schoolblazer are a tiny part of this industry. Despite this, we recognise and embrace the fact that we have an important role to play in ensuring that our industry rises to the challenges it faces.
Garment manufacturing is a relatively lower skilled, lower wage industry. It tends to be developed early in the industrialisation cycle. As a country develops and the skills and expertise of workers and managers increase, garment production tends to decline. The production skills learned making garments are then applied to higher value-added sectors such as electronics and vehicles. Textile production then moves on to new countries.
However, newly emerging countries tend to have poorly developed regulatory regimes and labour standards. The constant price pressure on retailers creates a tendency to cut corners, creating genuine areas of concern.
The solution is not to retreat to sourcing all product in the UK and Europe. There is no guarantee that these factories are not cutting corners of their own, and we have been unable to find factories who can meet our standards. Instead, we are unashamed globalists. We see global trade as a fair bargain. We get beautifully made, high quality clothes using the best of the world’s fabric technologies, at prices that our customers can afford. In return we pay our suppliers fairly so that they can offer honourable, well-paid employment and the opportunity as individuals, businesses and countries to grow and develop. Done well, global trade provides one of the best opportunities to fight poverty and injustice around the globe. We set out to do it well.
To achieve this, we believe in working with a small number of suppliers with whom we can build genuine commitment and trust. This ensures that we know every part of their business and are 100% certain that they share and meet our values and high ethical standards.
At Schoolblazer we believe that free and fair trade is an important way to spread wealth around the world. We take our responsibility to improving the welfare of everybody who contributes towards the creation of our garments extremely seriously. All factories producing products for us, wherever they are based, must comply with our Code of Conduct for Suppliers.
As responsible global citizens, and realists, we know that poor working practices are no respecters of borders or laws, as recent scandals involving slave conditions in some of Leicester’s textile factories show. The solution is to adopt consistent standards for working practices across our supply base and ensure that these standards are adhered to.
Schoolblazer are the only independent schoolwear retailer in the UK to be accredited as a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI). The Ethical Trading Initiative is an alliance of companies, trade unions and NGOs that promotes respect for workers’ rights around the globe. Their vision is a world where all workers are free from exploitation and discrimination, and enjoy conditions of freedom, security and equity.
We work together with our suppliers, sharing and developing new ideas to ensure we consistently deliver world-class product. We look after each other. Through the recent pandemic many of our suppliers suffered from cancelled orders as other customers shut down. We stepped in where we could to ensure factories could continue to pay their workforce and support them.
Four of our major suppliers are in Indonesia, three are in Sri Lanka and the balance are in the UK and Europe, all operating to the highest global ethical standards – as evidenced by our membership of the Ethical Trading Initiative. We sincerely believe that free and fair trade is the best way to spread wealth around the world.
Our suppliers bring us innovation and product, we bring them the means to develop their own businesses, their people and their societies. We are proud to be working with them.
There is no forced, bonded or involuntary prison labour. Workers are not required to lodge ‘deposits’ or their identity papers with the employer and are free to leave their employer after reasonable notice.
Workers, without distinction, have the right to join or form trade unions of their own choosing and to bargain collectively. The employer adopts an open attitude towards the legitimate activities of trade unions and their organisational activities.
A safe and hygienic working environment shall be provided, bearing in mind the prevailing knowledge of the industry and of any specific hazards.
There shall be no recruitment of child labour (under 16). Young people aged 16 and 17 should not be employed on a regular basis. On the rare occasions that young people aged 16 and 17 are employed then they shall not be employed at night or in hazardous conditions.
Wages and benefits paid for a standard working week meet, at a minimum, national legal standards or industry benchmarks, whichever is higher. In any event wages should always be high enough to meet basic needs and to provide some discretionary income.
Working hours comply with national laws , collective agreements, and the provisions of the below, whichever affords the greatest protection for workers. The below are based on international labour standards.
There is no discrimination in hiring, compensation, access to training, promotion, termination or retirement based on race, caste, national origin, religion, age, disability, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, union membership or political affiliation.
To every extent possible work performed must be on the basis of a recognised employment relationship established through national law and practice.
Physical abuse or discipline, the threat of physical abuse, sexual or other harassment and verbal abuse or other forms of intimidation shall be prohibited.
We are working to build an environmentally responsible and sustainable business.
The biggest single polluting factor in the garment industry is society’s demand for cheap, disposable clothing. According to the WWF, even a simple cotton t-shirt takes almost 3,000 litres of water to produce and the carbon content of a typical garment is around 11kg. We have committed ourselves to finding a better way. We have started by adopting a single core principle
The best way to reduce the environmental impact from clothing is to manufacture fewer things and ensure that each item will last. We design all of our garments to be worn for at least 2 years – that’s well over 200 times. In contrast, the average fashion garment is worn just 7 times before being discarded. This requires a clear and stringent approach to textile development, garment testing and quality control, but minimises the total cost for the planet and our customers.
As part of this we introduced a repair service in autumn 2021, to enhance the longevity of our garments. We do still need to produce new garments, so we are committed to building an environmentally responsible supply chain.
We have adopted five core initiatives to ensure that the items we produce under our Schoolblazer or Limitless brands minimise our environmental impact. We know we could do more and plan to add more initiatives over time but we are a small part of a giant industry. These initiatives let us make the biggest impact quickly and help us drive wider industry change.
Please get in touch to discuss a more proven, robust and forward-thinking way of providing school uniform and sportswear to your school.