Ethics & Sustainability

How are your t-shirts so affordable?

There’s a myth in the fashion industry that goes like this; “It’s way too expensive to pay workers well and treat the planet well and run a successful business”.


But the truth is, when producing at scale it costs little extra per t-shirt to pay Living Wages (see section below on Living Wages) and use sustainable manufacturing methods. In addition to large scale, we also use lower direct to consumer margins, enabling us to charge you an affordable price for a sustainable & ethical t-shirt.


We're going to let you in on an industry secret...


Brands can buy a normal wholesale t-shirt for £1.27 (or less) and sell them for £10. That’s a whopping 700% mark-up. Our t-shirts cost less than £4 and we only charge £7.99. Using large scale production and direct to consumer margins means we can charge you an affordable price for a sustainable & ethical t-shirt.

Where are your t-shirts made?

The organic cotton is grown, ginned and spun in Indore, India. It is then knitted, dyed, cut & sewn in Tirupur, India.


Our supplier for the organic Fairtrade cotton is Pratibha Syntex. Our manufacturing supplier is Continental Clothing. You can read more about the factory here (there's also a fun little video of the factory at the bottom of the page!).

Do you have any certifications?

Yes! We have a range of industry leading certifications. As well as receiving the highest "Great" rating from independent ethical brand directory Good On You.


The organic cotton is certified by Fairtrade and Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). The factory where the cotton is knitted, dyed, cut & sewn is certified by GOTS, WRAP, Oeko-tex etc. It is also audited by Fair Wear Foundation.

  • Fairtrade Cotton


    All of the cotton is Fairtrade certified, traded, audited and sourced from Fairtrade producers. Visit www.info.fairtrade.net for more info.

    Fairtrade cotton ensures that all cotton farmers receive the Fairtrade Minimum Price and the Fairtrade Premium (an additional sum of money which goes into a communal fund for workers and farmers to use – as they see fit – to improve their social, economic and environmental conditions). Find out more here.


    Our cotton is labelled under the Fairtrade Labelling Organisation (FLO), licence no: FFLC0862

  • Global Organic Textile Standard


    The world leading textile processing standard for organic fibres and ecological impact. This ensures all fibres are grown without any synthetic pesticides and are sustainably produced from farming, harvest, and textile processing. Find out more here.


    Click here to see our suppliers GOTS certificate.

  • Fair Wear Foundation


    Fair Wear Foundation is an independent, non-profit organisation that works to improve conditions for workers in garment factories. Find out more here.


    Our supplier Continental Clothing have been given "Leader" status (Fair Wear's top rating) for their ethical practices across their supply chains. Click here for the latest brand performance report from Fair Wear (FYI this report looks at Continental's full supply chain, we are only working with their Indian factory).

  • Business Social Compliance Initiative (BSCI)


    BSCI audits ensure accountability for supply chains that all labour is safe, fair, and free from discrimination and forced labour or labour that does not provide sufficient employee bargaining. Find out more here.

  • Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP)


    WRAP demonstrates that the facilities obey the laws of the country, treats workers with dignity and respect, and are conscious of the impact the facility has on the environment. Find out more here.

  • PETA approved Vegan


    100% vegan - free from all animal products and animal testing. Find out more here.

What are good wages?

We’re part of the Fair Share Scheme, this means we pay an additional premium on every t-shirt which goes directly to our garment workers. This scheme has already increased the lowest paid workers wages by 50%. It is a pioneering scheme in the industry to actively increase garment workers wages.


We're really passionate about Living Wages in the fashion industry. So instead of trying to squeeze all that info in here we've written a whole other section below. Scroll down to read more about Living Wages, the myths about them and what we're doing.

Do your t-shirts really produce 90% less CO2?

Yes! Our t-shirts are made in a wind and solar powered factory. This along with organic cotton farming, efficiency in manufacturing and transportation has led to a 90% reduction in CO2 compared to an identical t-shirt made using conventional energy sources. It has been calculated that our t-shirts save around 6 kilograms of CO2 without using carbon offsetting.


The carbon footprint has been certified by the Carbon Trust Certifications and calculated in accordance with the BSI PAS2050 methodology.

What is Fairtrade and organic cotton?

Fairtrade


Fairtrade cotton means we pay a Fairtrade Minimum Price for the cotton, ensuring a more stable price for farmers. We also pay a Fairtrade Premium this is "an additional sum of money which goes into a communal fund for workers and farmers to use – as they see fit – to improve their social, economic and environmental conditions". You can read more about Fairtrade cotton here.


Organic Cotton


Organic cotton is farmed without the use of hazardous synthetic pesticides and fertilisers. There are many benefits of organic cotton, we've listed a few below:


  • Organic cotton emits 46% less greenhouse gasses than non-organic.
  • Organic cotton is primarily rain-fed, reducing the need for water irrigation. 
  • Organic cotton is better for farmers and their families because they are not exposed to toxic pesticides.
  • Organic cotton is better for your skin as it eliminates exposure to irritating chemicals.

You can read more about organic cotton here.

What dyes do you use?

All our dyes are GOTS certified (Global Organic Textile Standard) to avoid the use of toxic chemicals in production. The leftover dye mud is then sent over to a cement factory to be processed.

What happens to offcuts?

Offcuts from our T-shirts are primarily reused to make other garments from recycled cotton.

Do you recycle water?

Yes! We recycle water at our factory to minimise water usage.

Where we want to improve?

Our main focus is to continue increasing wages for garment workers throughout the supply chain. We’re proud of the pioneering work we’re already doing, but we’ve still got further to go.


We have three goals:


1. We want to gain enough buying power to ensure Living Wages for all workers in our partner factory (more on this in our "Living Wages" section below).

2. We want to be a voice for change among other brands and politically advocating for Living Wages across global supply chains.

3. As we expand our collection, we want to partner with more factories to provide Living Wages for garment workers.

What's wrong with the fashion industry?

  • Social Issues
  • Environmental Issues

In 2015 the Ethical Trading Initiative did a study that found "71 per cent of companies believe there is a likelihood of modern slavery occurring at some point within their supply chains". 


The fashion industry is full of social issues, below we highlight and give examples of some of the key areas:


Factory fires are still an issue.


Garment factory fires are not a new issue In 1911, the deadliest industrial disaster was a fire in a clothing factory. It killed 146 people. Fires were so common that some mills had their own fire engines. And these deadly fires are still a problem today.


- In 2013, the Rana Plaza Disaster killed 1,134 people and injured many more in a factory fire. 

- In 2019, more than 40 people died in a factory blaze in India.

- March 2020, more than 2 fires a day were reported across the fashion industry’s global supply chain. The fires resulted in 4 deaths and 50 injuries.


Sexual harassment, abuse and violence are still an issue.


- On-the-ground reports from CARE International show 1 in 2 women workers in garment factories in South-East Asia experienced some form of sexual harassment in 2019.

- The Global Justice Organisation surveyed 200 garment factory workers in Dhaka, Bangladesh and 80% said they had experienced or witnessed sexual violence and harassment at work.

- Over 540 workers reported abusive incidents between January and May in 2018. The abuse includes rape, slapping, gendered bullying, and misuse of power to pursue sexual relationships.

- In a report on European factories released in April 2020, in every factory investigated workers reported threats, insults, humiliation and intimidation. Workers also unanimously spoke about constant exhaustion and chronic fatigue. 


The Guardian reported in 2018 that in a dispute about wages and working conditions in a factory in Bangalore, a female tailor explained to researchers that she had been grabbed by the hair and punched and told “You whore, your people should be kept where the slippers are kept.” Another garment worker told researchers that she was beaten as punishment for not meeting production quotas.


Child Labour is still an issue.


- Global estimates indicate that 152 million children — 64 million girls and 88 million boys — are in child labour globally, accounting for almost one in 10 of all children worldwide. 

- Nearly a third of children in child labour up to age 14 are completely deprived of schooling.

- With children not getting an education this means they get trapped in a poverty cycle. If parents were paid a living wage children wouldn’t need to work, could get an education and end the poverty cycle.


Forced overtime is still an issue.


- A 2016 study which looked at four factories in China, found that workers were doing between 80 and 150 hours of overtime per month.

- According to Labour Behind The Label, overtime is usually compulsory. Workers are mostly informed at the last minute that they are expected to work extra hours. In many instances, workers report being threatened with dismissal and subjected to penalties as well as verbal abuse if they cannot work the additional hours.

- Factory managers typically push employees to work between 10 and 12 hours, sometimes 16 to 18 hours a day. When order deadlines loom, working hours get longer. A seven-day working week is becoming the norm during the peak season, particularly in China, despite limits placed by the law.


One 22 year old Thai garment worker said this “We work from 8 am till noon, then have our lunch break. After lunch we work from 1 to 5 pm. We do overtime every day, from 5.30 pm. During the peak season, we work until 2 or 3 am. Although exhausted, we have no choice. We cannot refuse overtime: our basic wage is too low. If we want to rest, our employer forces us to keep working.”


Low wages are still an issue.


- In the same report which looked at the factories in China, it found the basic wage workers were receiving barely covered enough to live off. The wages in the factories ranged from $196 to $231 per month. Taking overtime work was a way of earning enough to survive.  

- A report was released in April this year called “Exploitation Made in Europe”. It looked at suppliers of German brands and retailers. In Croatia a well known luxury brand supplier was paying workers 32% of a living wage and in Bulgaria another supplier was paying workers 20% of a living wage.

- In none of the production facilities supplying German brands were workers able to earn above the EU’s own poverty threshold - not even with the addition of overtime and allowances.

- In Leicester, UK The Sunday Times reported in July 2020 that workers were getting paid £3.50 per hour. This has been a problem for a long time. Vogue reported in 2016 that workers in Leicester were getting paid £3/hour. 

- Oxfam did a report in 2018 which showed that “On average, it takes just over four days for a CEO from the top five companies in the garment sector to earn what an ordinary Bangladeshi woman garment worker earns in her whole lifetime.”


The problems within the fashion industry are vast. Brands, MPs and activists are standing up to demand the fashion industry changes. 


Here's three ways you can help transform the fashion industry:


Talk. Have conversations with your friends about the issues within the fashion industry.

Challenge. Message brands asking them about their factory working conditions, pay and sustainability practices.

Support. Keep buying from, sharing and liking posts from ethical fashion brands transforming the fashion industry.

The fashion industry has long been know to cause serious environmental damage. Below we highlight just a few of those issues:


CO2. It is estimated that more than 1000 billion kilowatts of electricity and 132 million tonnes of coal are needed to power the global fashion industry. The industry produces around 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions: more than aviation and shipping combined.


Water. The fashion industry creates 20% of global wastewater and dyeing textiles is the second biggest polluter of water globally.


Pesticides. Textiles account for 10-20% of global pesticide usage, little attention is paid towards water contamination in the supply chain or other major environmental consequences – like desertification in Central Asia.


The problems within the fashion industry are vast. Brands, MPs and activists are standing up to demand the fashion industry changes. 


Here's three ways you can help transform the fashion industry:


Talk. Have conversations with your friends about the issues within the fashion industry.

Challenge. Message brands asking them about their factory working conditions, pay and sustainability practices.

Support. Keep buying from, sharing and liking posts from ethical fashion brands transforming the fashion industry.

Debunking the myth: "It's expensive to pay Living Wages" 

What's the difference between "Minimum Wages" and "Living Wages"?

"Living Wages" are defined as a wage high enough to cover a family’s basic needs plus some discretionary income and can be earned in a standard work week (no more than 48 hours). "Minimum Wages" are what governments legally require companies to pay employees. There is often a huge discrepancy between these two figures, meaning garment workers across the globe live in poverty.


For example in Tirupur, India (the region where our t-shirts are made) the minimum wage is around 7,000 rupees and a "Living Wage" is around 14,000 rupees.

Myth 1: It's expensive to pay Living Wages

ActionAid did a study in 2010 which found that if a major UK supermarket had paid 2p more per t-shirt they could have paid their workers a Living Wage. 


A more recent study by Queensland University found that it would cost only 20 cents (11p) extra per t-shirt to pay a Living Wage to garment workers in India. 


Our supplier, along with a local NGO found that in the region of South India where our t-shirts are produced, it would cost 10p extra per t-shirt to pay garment workers in our cut & sew factory a Living Wage. 


All this to say, paying Living Wages costs pennies.

Myth 2: Ethical brands are expensive because they pay Living Wages

Many of us would fairly assume that if a brand says they are "fair" and "ethical" they pay Living Wages. This is unfortunately not always the case.


As we have seen from the studies above, Living Wages aren't expensive to pay. Often ethical fashion brands will produce in countries like Portugal, which will be more expensive to produce in and hence the price of clothing will be higher. They may also produce in small batches, again increasing the price of the final garment. 


But producing in more expensive countries like Portugal does not guarantee Living Wages (more on this in the next tab). Brands may talk about strict supplier Code of Conducts but these also don't guarantee Living Wages. Unless a brand can prove through a particular certification or through other means that they are paying Living Wages we can't trust they are doing this.


There are ethical brands that can prove they pay Living Wages. There are other ethical fashion brands who will be doing brilliant work in other areas, such as sustainability or factory safety (the fashion industry has lots of issues). We think this work should be celebrated and supported. But the idea that all ethical fashion brands pay Living Wages and are expensive because they pay Living Wages is a myth. The same goes for luxury fashion brands. In fact, the final price of the garment may have very little to do with the way it was made and how much the makers were paid.

Myth 3: Clothes made in the UK and Europe guarantee Living Wages

Unfortunately not. To give a recent example from the UK. The Sunday Times did an undercover report in 2020 which showed that workers in Leicester, UK were being paid as little as £3.50 per hour to make clothes for a British brand. Truly shocking.


This is not a new issue. Vogue reported in 2017 that clothing factory workers in Leicester were being paid an average wage of £3 per hour and some workers were being paid as little as £1 per hour. The "Made in Britain" tag is not all it's hyped up to be and certainly doesn't guarantee Minimum Wages, let alone Living Wages.


Another study released in April 2020 by Clean Clothes Campaign and Bread for the World looked at exploitation in European clothing factories. It focussed on German brands and retailers working in Serbia, Ukraine, Croatia and Bulgaria. They found that none of the workers in the factories received a Living Wage. They wrote “to make things worse, in none of the production facilities supplying German brands were workers able to earn above the EU’s own poverty threshold”.


Brands need to be held accountable, simply saying they work with European factories is not enough to ensure Living Wages.

If it costs so little, why don't brands pay Living Wages?

A study of 219 brands showed that only 12% could show any progress towards paying wages above the legal minimum. Below are some of the reasons brands give for not paying Living Wages:

One of the reasons brands cite is that they don't own factories or have enough buying power at a factory therefore they do not have the power to increase wages. This maybe the case for smaller brands but for larger brands who have enormous leverage through their buying power this is not an excuse.


Another reason brands give is that change needs to come through collective bargaining agreements, enabling workers to negotiate wages for themselves. This is undoubtedly an important step in creating a fairer fashion industry and ensuring Living Wages are commonplace across supply chains. But in a context where brands are continually trying to push down prices and factory owners are reliant on complying to keep their business, garment workers are left in a weak position to negotiate wages.


Some brands are making steps forwards by working on methods of negotiating contracts with suppliers by taking into account labour cost. This form of open book accounting makes it easier to protect workers wages and is a step in the right direction.


We believe these initiatives and explanations are not good enough or fast enough for garment workers living in poverty now. Therefore we have chosen to partner with a pioneering scheme to increase workers wages now.

What we're doing differently

A very brief overview


We’re part of the Fair Share Scheme, this means we pay an additional premium on every t-shirt which goes directly to our garment workers. This scheme has already increased the lowest paid workers wages by 50%. It is a pioneering scheme in the industry to actively increase garment workers wages.


The detailed version


The Fair Share Scheme aims to provide a Living Wage to all garment workers in our factory. We have chosen this scheme because it is the only scheme we’ve found in the industry which actively increases garment workers’ wages in a factory that uses green energy and also benefits from the efficiency of large scale production.


We pay an additional premium of 10p (see section above on "Myth 1: It's expensive to pay Living Wages") which goes directly to our garment workers. This scheme has already increased the lowest paid workers wages by 50%.


But the scheme does not yet cover the full production output of our factory - so not all garment workers receive Living Wages. This is why buying power and the scalability of our vision matters. As our buying power increases, so does our impact.


The fashion industry will only truly change when brands working ethically carry the buying power to make a change. We’re proud to have already raised the bar and be paying good wages compared to the rest of the industry but we know there's further to go.


It is our goal to see Living Wages as commonplace across global supply chains. We have three goals:


1. We want to gain enough buying power to ensure Living Wages for all workers in our partner factory.

2. We want to be a voice for change among other brands and politically advocating for Living Wages across global supply chains.

3. As we expand our collection, we want to partner with more factories to provide Living Wages for garment workers.

Additional Resources

Here's some extra resources and articles worth reading on the topic of Living Wages:


https://cleanclothes.org/poverty-wages

https://fashionchecker.org/

https://labourbehindthelabel.org/campaigns/living-wage/

https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2019/may/30/despite-fashion-living-wage-pledges-low-pay-still-a-reality-study-says

https://goodonyou.eco/the-impact-of-a-living-wage-for-garment-workers/

https://www.vox.com/2018/2/27/17016704/living-wage-clothing-factories

Orders

Delivery, Exchanges & Returns

Delivery


Free UK shipping on orders of 3 or more t-shirts. Standard UK shipping is £1.99.


Exchanges


If the size isn't right send it back to us within 28 days and we can swap it for you! In order to keep our pricing super low, exchanges cost £2.99 to cover processing and return postage.


Returns


Because this is a pre-order campaign we need to guarantee the sales with our manufacturer and therefore unfortunately can't offer returns.

Do you offer international shipping?

Yes! International and EU shipping costs £14.99 exc. import VAT and duties.

When will my t-shirt be shipped?

After the pre-order campaign has finished (at the beginning of May), we’ll start production by putting in our first order with our supplier. Exciting times. After this, they’ll start making lots and lots of T-shirts. We’ll receive them, package them up and deliver them straight to you in the Autumn.


We're aware this isn't the fastest delivery, but over time as we build up stock levels we'll get much quicker. But to launch Yes Friends we need all the help we can get to place our first order and get you your first £7.99 sustainable & ethical t-shirt. Thank you so much for believing in us and our dream to make ethical clothing affordable!

How do I look after my t-shirt?

  • Machine wash at 30℃. It's waaayyy better for the environment compared to 40℃.
  • Line dry.
  • Wash with similar colours.
  • Do not bleach. But do wear on the beach.
  • Do not tumble dry.
  • Use a cool iron. 
  • When you’re done recycle your t-shirt.

Where can I find sizing info?

Sizing info is on our product pages. Just tap on the "Size" link and it'll pop-up.

Do the t-shirts shrink?

The organic cotton is pre-shrunk before cutting & sewing to minimise shrinkage. But do allow for a small amount of shrinkage on first wash (3-4%).

What happens if we don't sell 3,000 t-shirts?

In the unlikely event that we don't hit our target and sell 3,000 t-shirts we'll have two options. 


1. We could look for additional outside investment and continue with our order so you'll still get your Yes Friends t-shirt!

2. If we don't get enough investment, we'll refund everyone who pre-ordered.


Either way, we'll make sure to keep you updated on our progress and you'll either get a Yes Friends t-shirt or your money back :)

Want to get in touch?

Drop us a message at hello@yesfriends.co.uk

Press Enquiries

For press enquiries please contact johnny@yesfriends.co.uk