Labour parliamentary candidate speaks at Fashion Week debate

Besi Besemar October 11, 2014

Speaking at the Sustain Debate on ethical fashion Purna Sen the Labour parliamentary candidate for Brighton Pavilion called for fashion to be “made ethical”.

Purna Sen: Labour Parliamentary candidate for Brighton Pavilion
Purna Sen: Labour Parliamentary candidate for Brighton Pavilion

THE DEBATE was staged during Brighton Fashion Week yesterday, October 10 at Brighton’s Sallis Benny Theatre.

Purna said: “Consumer pressure on retailers and manufacturers is important in changing the awful working conditions in which too many of our clothes are made. But alone it is not enough”.

“Here in our City we are lucky to have so many designers and fashion companies, including retailers, who are working to source ethically produced materials and help ensure a sweat-shop free supply chain. I welcome that and congratulate Brighton and Hove Fair Trade for sponsoring Friday’s debate.”

“But my experience as former Head of Human Rights at the Commonwealth Secretariat and of working for Amnesty convinces me that as well as pressure from consumers, designers and retailers here to end these appalling conditions, we need enforceable and meaningful international standards for workers, and independent workers organisations that work with employers to improve standards.

“I have visited factories where people – mostly women – labour to make the clothes in our wardrobes, facing the daily toil of long shifts, forced overtime, lack of job security, poverty wages, poor health – including mental health issues and exhaustion.

“Members of trade unions in this country can play a part by working through their international colleagues in solidarity with workers abroad. And our government too can take a lead. I welcome the commitment by Labour’s shadow secretary of state Jim Murphy MP to reinstate funding for the International Labour Organisation.

“We must not forget that for many of our residents times are hard and many people simply have less money to spend on clothes when they‘re struggling to feed their families.

“Decent jobs, for decent pay, under decent conditions should be a cornerstone of any government’s policy.”

She concluded, saying: “Then there is also the important issue of media sexism. From no clothes on page 3 to photo-shopped, size zero models in magazines and tv screens wherever we turn, we are faced with a barrage of messages that pressure women and girls to prioritise and update their wardrobes .”

Purna Sen works as Deputy Director of the Institute of International Affairs at the London School of Economics