Mantalk #4

This week in Mantalk, Seán debates the fashion industry’s association with sweatshops and Craig has the suss on scents for the winter months.

Craig

Jacket, jacket, coat, scarf, fur hood, jacket, woolly hat! Come on people, change it up a bit. I know I’ve been rattling on about buying a jacket in the last episode and I still haven’t got one (and maybe I won’t) but I’m not dead yet. I know, I know, it’s freezin’ outside but just listen: outerwear, in my opinion, can add value to your outfit but it also takes away from those pieces you’re all hiding underneath. Now don’t get me wrong, a nice coat can create an outfit but we all know the saying – “It’s what’s on the inside that counts”. Personality over looks, yeah? Why restrict yourself to expressing that ‘fashionista’ in you by covering up all that potential with one piece? Because let’s face it, most of us will be taking off the coat once indoors, and most of our time is spent indoors! The moral of this little fable, I suppose, is that don’t let one piece define you when you can mix and match several pieces to create a style, a look, your personality, you.

We all like to smell good, yes? Not in a hygienic sense now, (I presume you all wash) but more along the lines of incorporating smelling good into our image. Men, we all know the common scent of a young nightclub go-er drenched in Paco Rabanne ‘1 Million’, or Jean Paul Gaultier, even the good old Joop! Similarly, we are all familiar with the moths soaked in ‘FlowerBomb’, ‘Fantasy’ by Britney Spears or my mothers fave, ‘Red Door’ by Elizabeth Arden. You are too old to wear that if you are reading this! This week, I have an aftershave and a perfume that will automatically increase the number of heads that is guaranteed to turn on that library stairs. Any chaps out there with some extra cash? Get your hands on some Paco Rabanne ‘Black XS’. At €61, it is quite steep but it’s sure to get you noticed on the d-d-dancefloor (even more so if you use the entire bottle). Now to the women. Let’s be honest, we all love a woman that smells nice. Personally, I would highly recommend investing in some Marc Jacobs ‘Oh Lola!’. Around 80 quid, it’s worth it when the fellas be like, “Oh Niamh!” “Oh Mary!” “Oh Michelle!” “Oh” – you get the point. Alternatively, you could smell like the lovely Charlotte Lally and sprinkle yourself in some Victoria Secret – Oh yummy! My advice – try to aim for two goals when buying fragrances; long lasting and not overpowering.

If you’ve managed to beat the system of buying over-priced smells, then well done. The secret to smelling good isn’t about buying a luxurious brand so you can smell like the model in the ad; it’s about buying a nice smell – that stays on! For lads, Hollister sell their deodorant at 3 for €30. Newport Beach is by far the nicest and it’s long lasting, for your pleasure… Unfortunately, my deodorant knowledge is poor for the ladies. Just try to veer away from Impulse, I suppose. This week I managed to spice up my scent with some old school (yes,) Old Spice deodorant – the ‘Foxcrest’ one – on sale in Superdrug in Omni for €1.75.

Now I set you free,
On your own personal smelling fantasy,
O.M.G.
I sound like MC-Shaggy!

Seán

As the death toll rises to 5,500 in the Philippines, fashion retailers will be wiping oily perspiration off their foreheads in relief that the port of Manila was one of the least affected areas. Their highest concerns being how to get the stock to their destination country without breaking deadlines and moving future business with the Philippines to a new supplier in safer country. In all retailer-supplier contracts it’s the supplier’s responsibility to ensure the shipment reaches the destination country before the deadline and if they miss that date they have to ship by air, which is extremely expensive for suppliers, which in turn affects worker’s morale and pay. You can be guaranteed that the more cut-throat retailers are pressurising Filipino factories to ship stock by air, as once the stock is in their possession it’s their responsibility even if their country is in crisis.

During the collapse of a Bangladeshi factory earlier this year, I was working in a fashion buying office, this period brought a lot of perspective to me and my future career. The lack of empathy shown towards Bangladeshis we worked with daily was disturbing and upsetting. We weren’t linked directly with the factory, which collapsed, but the incident sparked public outcry in the region where a high percentage of our stock was sourced. Nothing was moving in the region and pressure was mounting on suppliers to get stock to Dublin. As shipments were destroyed by protesters, I was applauding the efforts Bangladeshis made in rebelling against western retailers who support these fraudulent factories. The death toll rose to over 1,100 people, a colleague reckoned that it was the bane of her life, though she was still alive. With worldwide media attention, Bangladeshi factory workers’ wages were increased, which urged retailers to find new source countries, which were cheaper. It’s like a game for retailers; they abuse low wages and poor work conditions. Whenever workers rebel against this, naturally through violence, as it’s their only voice, the country is deemed ‘high risk’ and the retailer moves on; the poorest get poorer.

If 1,127 people made 30 items of clothing per day for one year, that’s over 12 million items, (we can narrow the word ‘items’ down because Bangladesh most commonly produce t-shirts and sweatshirts) and if we take the population of the UK and Ireland (roughly 68 million) and then presume that 80% bought a sweatshirt or t-shirt from a shop on the high street, I can almost safely say that 1 in 5 of us are in possession of a garment fabricated by a Bangladeshi who died while trying to make a living. Died while making garments which are then sold to people who think they have it hard because the battery dies on their smartphones, who prioritise buying drinks on a night out over food for the week, who buy specific brands to outclass when the social class they endeavour to outclass are much better off than the people who make most of our clothes – what is this world?

Craig Sutton and Seán Ó’Grifín

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