China prices can be cheaper than other low-wage economies. Quotations are often for large quantities, the Chinese government has no pension, healthcare or democracy costs, and governments east and west have manipulated the exchange rate, but another surprising reason is that the UK taxpayer subsidises introductions and training, and hectors fashion designers to use China specifically. The money is paid from funds paid in London to reduce disparities in the Labour market.
"Making it ethically in China – A practical guide for fashion and textile designers When: 28.10.09 at 18:00
Where: Asia House, 63 New Cavendish Street, London , W1G 7LP
Sourcing materials or manufacturing in China should be considered seriously if you want to compete in a global market and keep production cost low. Many do not think that China should be your first port of call if you have decided to build your brand on a sustainable business model in which worker's rights are recognised, the materials used are environmentally friendly and your carbon footprint is as small as possible. However..."
The event organisers were given £210,000
by the London Development Agency last year, and this year's money is paid £7,380 from Creative Connexions
, which is also funded by the LDA.
Creative Connexions explanation of its own funding reads, "The Government provides full backing to the scheme, with a £5 million grant from the Higher Education Innovation Fund covering our first two years.", and lists UK Trade and Investment, London Development Agency and Think London among it's "partners". The company uses West End offices at 65 Davies Street owned by University of the Arts and is headed by an American-trained former Monsanto employee with experience in "global sourcing". Officially the company doesn't favour China but "seeks to link the creative skills of the U.K. with the developmental opportunities in China and India." However Indian factories would have trouble competing with their rivals in a more autocratic state; Labour Behind the Label
notes a report
of other far-eastern garment workers being told by Western retail chains to keep their prices as low as China and Vietnam.
Back in London, Dee Doocey the Liberal spokesperson
on the London assembly was "very happy to pass on ... concerns about this event to the London Development Agency", while the Green spokesman, Darren Johnson
tabled a formal question to the Mayor of London.
"Do you think it appropriate that the LDA funded a seminar entitled "Making it ethically in China - a practical guide for fashion and textile designers" given that the LDA's remit is to promote employment prospects and enterprise in London rather than encourage businesses to outsource their production abroad? "
A similar event planned in Manchester "Making a name in China – a practical guide to marketing and expand...
has had it's date and time removed from the Own-it web site but remains advertised on Own-it North. It will be held at Chinese Arts Centre, Thomas St, Manchester , M4 1EU, on 12.10.09, 6-8pm