London fashionistas aspire to ethical sourcing from China

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伦敦时尚界期望中国进口产品符合道德标准-London-fashionistas-aspire-to-ethical-sourcing-from-China
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How can fashion designers overseas identify manufacturers and material in China that meet high ethical standards? And once production of their clothes, bags or shoes begins, how can they monitor compliance with labour and environmental laws, and broader standards of sustainability?

Ethical questions facing the fashion industry in its dealings with China were recently addressed at a panel discussion organized in London by Own-It, the Ethical Fashion Forum and Creative Connexions. The panel included Luke Minford, head of the China practice at intellectual property law firm Rouse; Lesley Roberts, director of corporate responsibility at Pentland Group, whose brands include Speedo and Berghaus; and Galahad Clark, founder and owner of sustainable fashion footwear company Terra Plana.

According to Clark, China is the largest market for Terra Plana’s shoe brand United Nude, accounting for sales of almost 60,000 pairs a year. United Nude also manufactures in China with a local partner. “They are not cheap shoes – they’re nearly US$300 a pair – and we are starting to get copied a lot,” said Clark. The company currently has four lawsuits outstanding against various parties, including small components suppliers, which have allegedly copied a patented heel design.

Minford offered a selection of tips to fashion businesses hoping to source goods from China.

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Own-It (www.own-it.org) is a web-based service established by the London College of Communication which offers intellectual property advice for creative businesses. There is a podcast of the discussion of ethical sourcing in China on the Own-It website.

The Ethical Fashion Forum (www.ethicalfashionforum.com) is a London-based, not-for-profit network focusing on social and environmental sustainability in the fashion industry.

The China IPR SME helpdesk (email enquiries@china-iprhelpdesk.eu) provides free information and advice to help European SMEs with regard to China-related intellectual property matters.

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