Form of data held: Ethical Fashion

John Robertson made this Freedom of Information request to Department for International Development

This request has been closed to new correspondence from the public body. Contact us if you think it ought be re-opened.

Department for International Development did not have the information requested.

Dear Department for International Development,

What kind of information is held on this subject?
I'm interested to know if there was some initiative to promote simlar things at the same time, and whether records of it are held together.

Ethical Fashion Initiative at UN

Dfid's backing via project DelPHE, managed by The British Council in higher education to promote something similar including the Centre for Sustainable Fashion at London College of Fashion.

Backing via other ministries of Ethical Fashion shows, such as Business Link's ethical fashion show staged "as part of their commitment to ethical fashion", that might be known to Dfid.

Use of development awareness fund grants to the same end, including this one:

John Robertson

Department for International Development

Dear Mr Robertson,

Thank you for your request for information which we received on 10 July
2014. We are dealing with it under the terms of the Freedom of Information
Act 2000 and will respond to you directly, as soon as possible, and within
20 working days.

Please note that DFID may also publish our response to FOI requests at

Please contact me if you have any queries, quoting reference number

Yours sincerely,

Bryan Jones
DFID Information Rights and Public Enquiries Team


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Christine Mackintosh, Department for International Development

Dear Mr Robertson,

I would be grateful if you could provide some clarification relating to your request for information held on Ethical Fashion. Could you please specify what you mean by 'form of data' and 'what kind of information'. Also, could you please confirm if you are asking for specific information relating to the projects mentioned in your request or information relating to further UK funding of ethical fashion.

Please note you can find further information on DFID projects in our Development Tracker using this link

Yours sincerely

Christine Mackintosh
DFID Information Rights and Public Enquiries Team

show quoted sections

Dear Christine Mackintosh,
Thanks for your reply.

I want to know what kind of information is held at Dfid about the formation of a past project.

I see that there was some inter-departmental co-operation between government departments to work on "ethical fashion" at the same time - from about 2003-4 - and that "ethical fashion" was a new phrase. Activity in the area continues, I think, till the end of the RAGS Fund...

The link above states that it is part of the Sustainable Clothing Roadmap, co-ordinated by Wrap which is funded by Defra, but I am not sure how the civil service works and whether that was the same initiative that co-ordinated a lot of new activity about ethical fashion around 2003-4 and onwards. So I am interested to know what the co-ordination of ethical fashion work between ministries was called, and what kinds of records are held about its past at Dfid.

It may be useful to know that the phrase "ethical fashion" seems to have been invented by the UN World Trade Centre's "Ethical Fashion Initiative" which began at the same time or just before.

Sorry for the length of this question.


John Robertson

Department for International Development

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Robertson,

Please find attached DFID's response to your Freedom of Information
request F2014-272.

Yours sincerely,

Christine Mackintosh
DFID Information Rights and Public Enquiries Team

Dear Christine Mackintosh,
thanks for your help
John Robertson

John Robertson left an annotation ()

Freedom of Information Request F2014-272
Thank you for your Freedom of Information request dated 9 July 2014 and your clarification dated 14 July in which you asked for the information relating to ethical fashion. I have set out your request in full at Annex 1 of this letter.

DFID does not hold information relevant to your request.

It may be of interest to you that in 2003-2004 DFID published papers on Labour Standards and Poverty Reduction [1] and DFID and corporate social responsibility [2] . Although the papers do not mention Ethical Fashion specifically they do provide information on the work DFID was carrying out at that time to improve working conditions in developing countries.

RAGS is not the initiative that coordinated new activity in ethical fashion from around 2003-04. RAGS is a specific initiative that ran from 2009-10 to 2013-14, to fund innovative approaches to improving working conditions in the ready-made garment sector. At the end of RAGS 11 projects had been undertaken, details of which are published in the GOV.UK RAGS link mentioned in your request. [3]

The Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP) is a multi-stakeholder initiative, involving business, industry associations, academic institutions, as well as government Departments. There is no specific name for the coordination of ethical fashion work between government Departments.

DFID has provided support to the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI), an alliance that brings together businesses, trade unions and voluntary organisations that are committed to promoting respect for workers’ rights in global supply chains. The Ethical Trading Initiative is a member of the Sustainable Clothing Action plan steering group. Many of the businesses involved in the Ethical Trading Initiative are also involved in Sustainable Clothing Action Plan. Further information on DFID’s work with ETI can be found in the following links to the House of Commons website 2003 [4] and 2007 [5].

Some information on DFID’s work with the International Labour Organisation on bonded labour in 2003 can also be found in the following link to the House of Commons website. [6]


Christine Mackintosh
DFID Information Rights and Public Enquiries Team

links reformatted to suit the whatdotheyknow site

John Robertson left an annotation ()
Reasons for asking the question are covered in these pages.

Answers to why UK taxpayers used to subsidised PR for goods from badly-run countries, and provide no incentive to better government by introducing a welfare state in a country like Bangladesh, are included above.

I've just skim-read bits of the links for what I'm interested in, but the one that stood-out for me was about obscure meetings between delegates to international organisations, usually based in Geneva but meeting in Singapore in 1996. They agreed on behalf of bad governments that a "social clause" should not be part of world trade; that the "comparative advantage" of badly-run countries' cheap labour was more important.

Footnote 1
Clause 4.36
is the chilling one: despots said "we reject the use of labour standards for protectionist purposes"

You'd expect bad governments to support this, but nobody else made a fuss and a PR organisation for this idea managed to slip-in its applications for grants because it sounded neutral. That's why there are a couple of requests so far on this Whatdotheyknow site about Ethical Fashion Forum.