Monday, 14 December 2015

ethical fashion forum: why dig? what dirt?

Why dig into Ethical Fashion Forum?

This set of posts looks nasty to some people; if you don't want to know the score, look away now. All it is is a bit of background nose-poking to find out what sort of people are drawn into Ethical Fashion Forum, Ethical Fashion Consultancy, Anti Apathy (company and charity) and Re-Fashion. There's no single piece of illegal dirt to find unfortunately - just a lot to distroy UK jobs and good things worldwide at UK taxpayers' expense in a mundane legal way. For example each of this cluster of companies had a postal address at Rich Mix, a multi-million pound removal of taxpayers' money from benefits and social services into a grant design in Shoreditch. Millions were spent converting a white-painted commercial building into a white-painted commercial building that had less commercial space.

Business support, like arts, is a low priority compared to health benefits and social care, but these little budgets were neither abolished nor spent wisely; they were raided too. Rich Mix is a monument to evil. One of the first controversies was to commission a mural on the walls of a white woman being raped by black people. Each of these companies is un-embarassed to have Rich Mix as a landlord, and the first used the postal address even before this scam was built.

Unfortunately nothing illegal happened. The government ministers who approved related schemes like Creative Connexions and London Fashion Week in the 2000s are now directing the BBC or seeking a new life in Australia. It is legal to believe in globalisation at all costs and spend taxpayers' money to promote it, even if this money is meant for the opposite purpose of promoting UK employment including manufacturing. It is legal to believe that there is some historical reason why people in the UK should encourage enterprise in Bangladesh, and it is legal to use public money meant for arts of business support to commission a mural of black people raping a white woman, but there are counter arguments in each case.

The regional government people who approved funding for the rape mural and Ethical Fashion Forum live in obscurity, and the generations who lost job prospects, human rights and dignity because of bad government get the blame as always.

What dirt has Ethical Fashion Forum got?

If you had tried to find-out what help was available from your nearest development agency during a recession, and found that the money went to a PR outfit trying to put your firm out of business, you'd be nosey too. For example if you hoped to retail shoes made by Equity Shoes, a hundred year-old worker co-op in Leicester making shoes, you went to a public-funded lecture on buying from co-operatives, and you found that the speakers all spoke about buying from the third world and knew nothing about Leicester.  Equity shoes went bust that year. Or if you had found one of the last cheap wallet manufacturers in Manchester, JJ Blackledge, and found that the very weekend that they went bust, Ethical Fashion Forum were speaking at taxpayer-funded event called "making it ethically in China", hosted by Creative Connexions on another public grant, you'd be cross wouldn't you? If there were no adult education classes in using better e-commerce software for people who weren't concentrating too well, but you found that business advice grants had been diverted to a pro-globalisation lobby instead of training, wouldn't you be cross? Or if, all your life, you had coped with the effects of the 80s manufacturing recession on yourself and others, tried to promote the ethical advantages of UK products, and saw them actively discouraged as an ethical choice on the Ethical Fashion Forum web site? The quote is on a page called "The Issues" date, and has been on their site since 2009. The gang also includes a firm called Terra Plana, exhibited at London Fashion Week's Esthetica event under Ethical Fashion Forum's influence, which sold Chinese leather shoes. Why "China is arguably more democratic than the UK", they quote an employee as saying on their 2008 web site. In 2010 they published another "Issues" page, rejecting any kind of tariff barrier to protect a welfare state, and quoting an american pressure group in support of their case. As late as January 2011 the group still had a charmed existence borne I suppose of ministerial decisions. In January 2011, The Victoria and Albert Museum published a long uncritical interview with an Ethical Fashion Forum pundit after publicising the group with an exhibition. There's also a relationship with members to publicise un-critical training notes in the style of Centre for Sustainability in Fashion like the the ones at the bottom of this page headed "case study: Monsoon"

Personally, I would be happy to see the ring leaders in prison but doubt they have broken any law so I can't wish it. An explanation and apology would be nice. This bit of detective work is a kind of mundain account and no explanation of motive. It lists the people involved as directors at the cluster of organisations that share an address at Rich Mix Foundation in London, itself a near-criminal waste of public money by people who cannot be prosecuted for the harm their waste did to council social services and allied charities by taking so much cash. There is more than a landlord-tenant relationship between Rich Mix and Ethical Fashion Forum. Ethical Fashion Forum had a postal address at Rich Mix while it was still a building site, even as it first registered as a limited company. There was also a connection with cross-ministry funding.  The Hospital Club, a hangout for ministerial advisers, hosted an ethical fashion show. The London College of Fashion published a subsidised "book" published online, quoting Ethical Fashion Forum founders' antics before they had founded Ethical Fashion Forum, to use as examples for a new course to be promoted at the UK's fashion colleges

Any nosey person would check the directors of a company, just digging. The mundane thing I discover in public records is that Ethical Fashion Forum are not "the industry body for ethical fashion"; next to none are in the rag trade; most are consultants in how to look ethical. An exception I found was someone who has a shop and teaches at St Martin's college. Another - Cyndi Rhodes - recycles. A third has opened a shirt shop alongside her consultancy work, selling £80 shirts made in the far east. I wish I could dig more dirt but public records are mundain.

Other people have been nosey too. Assembly members at the Greater London Authority managed to get a forensic accountants' report done into how the then London Development Agency spent billions of pounds, and the next mayoral regime commissioned another one. Both found few examples of corruption but lots of examples of stuff that's just puzzling wierd and naff: - temporary staff at the London Development Agency trying to hold meetings with ministerial advisors sitting-in; projects and agencies to deliver these projects chosen on political whim with outcomes measured as a box-ticking excercise. The second report quoted Westfield Shopping Centre being subsidised by taxpayers, without comment. I think that's so obviously opposite to the purpose of the agency that it's probably a sign of corruption, but the accountants said nothing. Nearby, unemployed youth were kept busy with a scheme that signed a receipt for "youth related activities" in order to spend the full budget up to the end of the year. The accountants noticed that in a wry way. I have not seen an exposure central government at the time, which was used to interfering in regional London government after running the London Residuary Body before the Greater London Authority was invented, as well as running budgets like the Higher Education Funding Council grant for Creative Connexions, set-up to promote globalisation at the expense of UK tax payers and I guess signed by a current BBC director who was then a minister called Charles Parnell.

I expect directors were unpaid and drawn-in, as I was, in hope that a vague forum would include something to like. There was a call for members on the Anti Apathy mailing list in about 2005. I replied saying I was keen on things like the Maker Spaces that have appeared anyway. I discovered from a successful applicant, minding a stall at London Fashion Week, that my application had been rejected. Oddly enough this person wasn't in the rag trade except to promote saris from a war zone at a few competitions. Later, the job was advertised again with a specification: applicants needed to bring consultancy work to the organisation.

Not The Industry Body for Ethical Fashion

You can check this yourself by getting director names and looking online for their CVs if you can find them, and going-on as long as you want until you form an impression. If the issue effects your business and the bunch seem to be on a public grant, then you dig further as I did in the mid 2000s. The trend in the past few years is away from public funding and towards people with fewer directorships. Either way, people who were the "Industry Body for Ethical Fashion" would show plenty of cobblers stitchers and rag traders; these lists do not.

Lucy Shea on Linkedin

Overlapping directorships with an add agency - Futerra Sustainability Communications - that was a big government contractor to DEFRA at one time. A freedom of information request to Defra asked whether any government advertising could have leaked into overlapping projects by Futerra, and the answer was that surviving documents don't say.

Tamsin Lejeune

This one is best in summery because I have dug a lot. The evidence belongs in an archive somewhere.

There is an operatic sense of truth about her history, landing in grand newspaper PR in 2005 as a former "award winning architect" or even a qualified one, and as having traded as an ethical fashion business called "Juste". Have you heard of it? Me neither, nor can consumers confirm her architecture qualification to practice, but the PR was on a grand scale including public exhibitions at The Crafts Council and the V&A of products seldom if ever produced. There are multiple joint appearances with Junky Styling, Terra Plana, Sari Dress Project and other clients - I guess without evidence - of Futerra Communications the PR agency.

A domain name for Juste, samples produced by volunteers out of muslin made by a firm like Remploy in Bangladesh, and some photos do exist and quotes given in support of a degree state that she hopes to sell via a Greater London Enterprise Agency shop that briefly existed for new designers in Covent Garden. There is also a long account of a trip to Bangladesh at Dfid expense to obtain these fabric samples, appearing in the same subsidised textbook at Elizabeth Laskar's Sari Dress project, which was a temporary project selling Saris out of a war zone (if Sri Lank ever gets a freedom of information act I'll try to find out whether their government funded this). There is no evidence of Ethical Fashion Forum ever promoting Remploy before it went bust. Obviously, I think that Bangladeshi taxpayers should help set-up a welfare state in Bangladesh and promote a firm like Remploy; I think that UK taxpayers should help set-up a welfare state in the UK and should have helped promote a firm like Remploy or any successors.

There is a Lejeune degree in international development from Brookes Uni, based in large part on a long project describing the work done running Juste, which didn't run, and Ethical Fashion Forum, which did. There are convincing accounts is an interest in architecture and doing some live-in volunteer jobs around the world for development agencies. There is a long association with the Rich Mix address in Shoreditch, started even before the current building was built on Greater London Authority subsidy which was much reported as being mad. There is some loose association with the Estethica room at London Fashion Week. There is, I'm assured by Tamsin Lejeune, no public subsidy of Ethical Fashion Forum at the time of my phone call which was mid 2014; she has also been absolutely open in showing scans of grant proposals for at least one small grant obtained when the agency was in fashion at the Greater London Authority and Defra around 2005. It is a Development Awareness Grant. Another grant is given under the heading of training for small businesses and delivered in some form for a single year at Newham College in East London. There is evidence of Tamsin Lejeune doing a job for Labour Behind the Label, and then doing something I admire as an ex voluntary-sector worker: she got some small grants for her own project. We also have name changes in common; I used to be called David Robertson. If I could have used that to pretend a degree in one subject in order to qualify for a funded second degree in another subject, I might have done so but I can say that I have no architecture qualification and am not an award-winning architect.

I have had about a couple of phone conversations or email exchanges with Tamsin Lejeune and get an impression that impression and people are what she is good at, rather than whether what she says is contradicted by words on her web site. She suggested I be unpaid "ambassador" for UK manufacturing at Ethical Fashion Forum while retaining her warnings against buying UK products on her website. That's thinking of the "Issues" page in which she urges people not to buy British goods on ethical grounds. Someone introduces her in a video trade show and seminar as "Tamsin - good at getting people together".

Elizabeth Laskar on linkedin - one directorship at Ethical Fashion Forum where she was also company secretary

Alice Gartland on linkedin


Alice Gartland Research and Consulting
– Present (5 years 6 months) UK, China, India
Projects include:

Open Contracting Partnership, Consultant: Providing focused advocacy support to secure a robust commitment to open contracting in the UK's open government plan and anti corruption strategy.

Founder, A Lotus Rises. A Community of Women who inspire, and are inspired by, a love of open water.

Global eHealth Foundation, Chaired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Partnerships and Communications Consultant.

Institute for Strategic Dialogue, Senior Fellow: Leading ISD's research on digital technology on the future of economic and social development in Europe. Author of 'Europe's Got Talent: Learning, Creating and Growing in our Digital World'-Commissioned by the Vodafone Institute for Society and Communications as part of the Vodafone Digitising Europe Summit, opened by German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Thomson Reuters Practical Law China, Consultant: Developed a legal news column for General Counsel working on China-related matters, and their advisers. Topics include IPRs, labour unrest, and environmental regulation; Feature articles re: due diligence; impact of anti corruption legislation on business operations; and working with SOEs.

The Economist Intelligence Unit: Research for the Access China Service

Upmysport: Community Engagement

China Business Law Journal. Feature articles re:Chinese investment in CEE; role of women in the Chinese legal system;national security review, anti-monopoly law;VIEs.

CottonConnect: scoping study on China re the cotton and textiles industry and wider macro environment. The basis of CottonConnect's decision to enter China in 2011.

Civil Initiatives for Development and Peace, CIVIDEP, (NGO Bangalore, part of OECD Watch): Author 'Business Law and Human Rights in India' cited in the CIVIDEP manual 'Workers’ Rights and Corporate Accountability’, published in July 2011.

Publicly listed mobile telecommunications manufacturer (UK and China) - Conducted an evaluation of the Company's product transfer from the UK to China.
Abi Rushton was also on a committee for the

Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs

Abi Rushten on linkedin

Courtney Blackman on linkedin

Courtney Blackman's Overview Current
Managing Director at The Industry
Founder & Managing Director at Forward PR

Board Member at Ethical Fashion Forum
Co-Chairman & Co-Founder at Fashion Business Club
Director of Sales & Marketing at World Trade Office, Vermont
see all
1 person has recommended Courtney
500+ connections
Courtney Blackman's Experience
Managing Director
The Industry
2011 – Present (2 years) London, United Kingdom
Founder & Managing Director
Forward PR
October 2005 – Present (7 years 11 months)
London-based fashion PR agency.
Board Member
Ethical Fashion Forum
Nonprofit; 1-10 employees; Apparel & Fashion industry
September 2009 – February 2012 (2 years 6 months)
Co-Chairman & Co-Founder
Fashion Business Club
2006 – 2011 (5 years)
Director of Sales & Marketing
World Trade Office, Vermont
November 2001 – August 2002 (10 months)
Director of International Projects
VisionTrust International, Dominican Republic
1999 – 2000 (1 year)
Database Manager
Michael Ryal Group, Costa Rica
1998 – 1999 (1 year)
7 UK directorships

Eric Urbani on linkedin

Founder & Managing Partner at The Black Emerald Group
San Francisco Bay Area
Renewables & Environment
The Black Emerald Group,
Forward Leap Foundation,
Tâcheron Group
The Ethical Fashion Forum (UK),
Richard Gere Foundation/Healing the Divide,
Oceans Alert Foundation
Tufts University - The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
Send InMail
More options
Founded in 1994 as one of the first merchant banking firms exclusively focused on the green investment space, Black Emerald has evolved into a leading ‘fundless sponsor’ of and partner to seasoned management teams in the renewable energy, sustainable agriculture and waste management sectors.
Black Emerald Capital Limited is authorized and regulated by the Financial Services Authority of the United Kingdom and throughout the European Union pursuant to Article 31 of the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive 2004/39/EC.
The Black Emerald Group
Managing Partner
The Black Emerald Group
March 1994 – Present (19 years 6 months)
Founded in 1994, The Black Emerald Group invests in new energy and environmental technology companies and projects.
(Open)1 recommendation
Eiléen Lee-Connor
Eiléen Lee-Connor
Beauty Expert & Makeup Artist at eiBeauty
Eric is an amazingly creative businessman with true empathy for the worldwide community; a rare combination indeed! It is with astute financial acumen, an enviable track record of successful projects, and a strong belief that ethical businesses make...View
Forward Leap Foundation
Forward Leap Foundation
April 1997 – Present (16 years 5 months)
Forward Leap works with producers, writers, directors and curators to facilitate the production of media with progressive social and environmental messages.
(Open)1 recommendation
Mark M. Whelan
Mark M. Whelan
Business Development and Social Engagement Professional
Eric is a principled centered leader: intelligent, integral, and inspirational.View
Tâcheron Group
June 2011 – Present (2 years 3 months)San Francisco Bay Area
Invests in artisan food and beverage (wine) producers.
BoomGen Studios
Advisory Board
BoomGen Studios
June 2009 – Present (4 years 3 months)Greater New York City Area
BoomGen Studios is a transmedia storytelling factory that tells big stories across multiple media platforms and can be experienced at the cinema, on TV, on your mobile phone or tablet. They can be played in an online gaming environment, or simply read as a graphic novel. BoomGen's success is rooted in our ability to blur the line between storyteller and audience, between story and content promotion.
Advisory Board
The Ethical Fashion Forum (UK)
June 2006 – September 2009 (3 years 4 months)
Advisory Board
Richard Gere Foundation/Healing the Divide
March 2003 – September 2006 (3 years 7 months)
Advisory Board
Oceans Alert Foundation
February 2004 – February 2006 (2 years 1 month)
J.S. Frelinghuysen & Co.
June 1992 – March 1994 (1 year 10 months)
Boutique investment banking firm founded by former First Boston partner.
J.P. Morgan Chase
Financial Analyst
J.P. Morgan Chase
September 1989 – July 1991 (1 year 11 months)
Venture Capital Group
Lehman Brothers
Lehman Brothers
January 1988 – September 1988 (9 months)
Equity Research Group.
View Eric Urbani's professional profile on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the world's largest business network, helping professionals like Eric Urbani discover inside connections to recommended job candidates, industry experts, and business partners.

Josie Nicholson on linkedin

1 UK directorship

This one had work experience on the Ethical Fashion Forum board and choosing people for public subsidy, sitting on a selection panel for Estethica at London Fashion Week. She helped choose how more public subsidy should be spent via the Defra Clothing Roadmap.

She went-on to work for clothes importers rather than regional development

Choosing who got government subsidy was this person's first volunteer job after college in 2009. And 2010. And 2011. I get these names from in hope of finding an "industry body" but the names so far are an overflow of consultants from Ethical Fashion Consultancy Ltd of the same address.

Claire Lissaman on linkedin - 6 UK directorships

The last director of Ethical Fashion Forum to quote is a consultant with experience in rug import, large company supply chains including Nike, and now Indian shirt import for nearly £80 including VAT. She was the one who told New Internationalist something like "you're just as likely to find a bad factory down the road in London where I work than in China", missing the point that UK factories like pay towards the democratic welfare state that she uses and has no equivalent in China. Nor Bangalore where the £80 shirts are made for her import business.

Christian Benigni on linkedin - 4 directorships

Another company that quotes its trade is a management consultancy; others leave their trade unstated

Ralph Goodstone on linkedin - 2 directorships

The other company is called "RG Sourcing". This one was "interim MD" at ethical fashion forum when a lot of directors changed in 2014. He has experience at M&S and running a clothing import and sales business.

Brigitte Stepputtis - 2 directorships

The other company is called "German British Forum". Someone with the same name has the job title "head of couture for Vivienne Westwood".

Marisa Todd on linkedin- 1 UK directorship

Prima Bhardwaj - 1 UK directorship

Pamela Daniels on linkedin - 3 UK directorships

Kirstin McIntintosh on linkedin - 5 UK directorships

Training, social work, and "low carbon skills consulting ltd"

I'm not sure if anyone reads down this far, but my impression from trying to research directors of Ethical Fashion Forum and Ethical Fashion Consultancy is that they are mainly consultants. I think the only UK stitchers when I first looked were clothes recyclers - Junky Styling and Worn Again. The new team of directors includes a wholesale clothes importer and someone from high fashion.

Some people have attempted to join the rag trade, more or less. Tamsin Lejeune nearly set-up Juste; the person from Futerra Communications does "Swishing", and a consultant who did some Corporate Social Responsibility work for Nike has opened the Arthur and Henry shirt business in Harringay. There are shirt factories within walking distance, but these people prefer to import from countries without a welfare state.

Someone's ex-teacher from St Martin's College is on the list. She also runs a small shop called Ciel that sometimes sells clothes, so that's someone in the rag trade if not the stitching trade. Another one imports pants from India. Even if you count all the stitchers and rag traders together, they're a small minority compared to consultants.

Planb4fashion is a blog by which is a vegan shoe shop

No comments:

Post a comment