Topshop is in the frame over sweatshop accusations

By agency reporter
March 2, 2008

As local action associated with fair trade and labour practices continues, Topshop is facing a day of protests from its core customers, with students across Britain staging demonstrations today at the company's stores.

Students will protest against sweatshop conditions outside Topshop's flagship store in London's Oxford Street, and in towns and cities ranging from Reading and Oxford to Preston and York.

Topshop targets students with discounts, student nights and campus tours, but many students are now backing the Redress Fashion campaign run by People & Planet, Britain's largest student network concerned with human rights, global poverty and the environment. Redress Fashion has also won the support of trade minister Gareth Thomas MP.

Topshop's embarrassment became clear last week, when the company pulled out of a Fairtrade discussion in Oxford for fear, say campaigners, of student criticism. Topshop forms part of the Arcadia Group, whose owner Philip Green has refused to sign up to the Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI).

Sarah Waldron, People & Planet campaigns officer, said: "The Arcadia Group is the biggest high street retailer not to sign up to the Ethical Trading Initiative. Time and again, Philip Green's business has been associated with unacceptable working conditions. If he wants to continue to attract students through the doors of Topshop, Philip Green must drag his company into the twenty-first century and change his business ethics."

Rebecca Jones, costume student at Rose Bruford College in London, added: "Young people love shopping and fashion but the big retailers like Topshop are hiding the true sources of their clothes. They blind us with celebrity collaborations and 'must-haves' which make us lose sight of what is truly valuable - human lives."

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