Commenting on allegations that the Whistles for Fawcett Society feminist T-shirt may not have been produced to ethical standards, Eva Neitzert, Deputy CEO of the Fawcett Society, said:

“As a charity that campaigns on women’s rights in the labour market, we have been concerned right from the outset of our collaboration with ELLE magazine that any products meet rigorous ethical standards.

“The Fawcett Society was approached last year by Elle magazine asking if they could help coordinate a redesign of our iconic ‘this is what a feminist looks like’ t-shirt as part of their December issue on feminism.

“After discussion, it was decided that we would approach the high street chain Whistles, headed up by known feminist and proponent of ethical manufacturing Jane Shepherdson.

“We met with Whistles over the summer to discuss the t-shirt design and production and, upon querying, were assured that the garments would be produced ethically here in the UK. We also agreed that 100% of the profits would be donated directly to the Fawcett Society.

“Upon receiving samples of the range at our offices in early October we noted that the t-shirts had in fact been produced in Mauritius, upon which we queried (over email) the ethical credentials of the Mauritian factory, and the fabric used.

“We were assured by Whistles (over email) that the Mauritian factory:

is a fully audited, socially and ethical compliant factory which has the following accreditations.

CMT is a world class multinational company, with manufacturing sites in Mauritius and regional offices in U.K., France & Asia. It is a completely integrated textile mill and its ongoing success can largely be attributed to its innovative & integrated approach. The vertical integration stems from production which has been transformed from spinning, knitting, coloration & make up. Each of these operations are using the latest & most modern state of the art equipment. All accessories, including sewing thread is being produced in-house.

CMT has Oekotex accreditation, which fully conforms to the highest standards in quality & environmental policy, whilst having world class policies for sustainable development, social, ethical and environmental compliance. See below the various accolades that CMT prides itself of at the base of this mail

Whistles also has full SMETA sedex audits from CMT and there are no outstanding CAP reports to be closed off.

I hope this allays any fears on social and ethical compliance from Mauritius. This unit is one we can be proud of in our supply chain. Hope this reassures you.’

“Given these assurances, and the fact that the entire range of t-shirts and sweaters had already been produced, we decided to continue with the collaboration.

“We have been very disappointed to hear the allegations that conditions in the Mauritius factory may not adhere to the ethical standards that we, as the Fawcett Society, would require of any product that bears our name. At this stage, we require evidence to back up the claims being made by a journalist at the Mail on Sunday. However, as a charity that campaigns on issues of women’s economic equality, we take these allegations extremely seriously and will do our utmost to investigate them.

“If any concrete and verifiable evidence of mistreatment of the garment producers emerges, we will require Whistles to withdraw the range with immediate effect and donate part of the profits to an ethical trading campaigning body.

“Whilst we wish to apologise to all those concerned who may have experienced adverse conditions, we remain confident that we took every practicable and reasonable step to ensure that the range would be ethically produced and await a fuller understanding of the circumstances under which the garments were produced.”