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Northern Ireland was once a hub for textile manufacturing and production, locality was celebrated and there was pride in the knowledge of where your clothes were made. However, in the late 90s and early 2000s global expansion and production considerably changed the textile industry, where profit and efficiency became the no.1 goal. In the early 2000s, hundreds of jobs were lost in Northern Ireland and the Republic from the clothing firm Hawkesbay, with blame placed on the lack of demand from their top buyer VF Corporation who manufactured Lee and Wrangler jeans. Eventually, all manufacturing moved abroad as companies were finding it increasingly difficult to compete with companies in Asia where there are significantly lower labour costs.
We now know the social and environmental impact of these cost cuts. The industry has taken advantage of factory workers in countries such as Bangladesh, Vietnam and Indonesia where the minimum legal wage in these places is well under a living wage required for workers to have a decent life. Further, the globalisation of the fashion industry has resulted in clothing travelling around the world several times during manufacturing and production which produces unnecessary amounts of Co2 emission. H&M’s emissions from transportation make up a substantial 43% of its total greenhouse gas emissions.
There is a growing awareness of these ethical and environmental implications of this global industry. Further, the government and business sectors are beginning to recognise the importance and need for sustainable change. One step that will enable a more sustainable and transparent supply chain is to bring local manufacturing back into the UK, the possibilities of which are being discussed by the Westminster Business Forum this year. This important step is necessary for a sustainable fashion future.
Titanic Denim uses reclaimed and recycled materials to create unique and sustainable textile products. We value locality and appreciate the necessity to acknowledge our heritage. All our products and materials are sustainably sourced and created right here in Northern Ireland. Support local business and know where your clothes are made!