ethical clothing

The importance of ensuring your hospitality clothing suppliers are ethical may not be recognised by every hotel or restaurant as being particularly important, but the case of one firm running into deep controversy may provide a signal as to just why it is so crucial.

UK-based BooHoo has previously been criticised for being in the vanguard of ‘fast fashion’, with all the negative vibes this has generated from those concerned that this is encouraging a throwaway culture at a time when wise and environmentally responsible approaches to clothes production are being encouraged by many. 

However, matters have got far worse after BBC investigative news programme Panorama aired what it said was proof that the firm has broken promises to make its clothes in a fair and ethical way, following damaging revelations in 2020 of staff at its Leicester factory being paid less than the legal minimum wage.

This sparked the ‘Agenda for Change’ programme, but, according to undercover reporters, staff was seen regularly pressuring suppliers to drive prices down even after these had been agreed, in defiance of the Agenda for Change pledges to ensure suppliers were paid fairly.

In other instances, members of staff at the factory in Leicester were forced to work overtime to meet production targets, despite BooHoo signing up to an agreement that overtime should be voluntary.

While the whiff of scandal leaves BooHoo facing some serious explaining to do at best and, at worst, a reputation in ruins, no hospitality company will have to worry - at least this time - as BooHoo doesn’t supply the sector with uniforms.

However, it doesn’t require much imagination to think of the implications for a hotel or restaurant if its own supplier were the subject of such controversy. Pressure to cut ties would be intense and while that may be good PR, it could also bring the extra cost of replacing uniforms that may only recently have been bought.

That is another good reason to ensure your firm sources uniforms from ethical suppliers, so you cannot be damned by association. But even before then, using a sustainable, ethical provider helps your business nurture a reputation as a good global citizen.

November 10, 2023 — Jake Blakey