I'm very particular about my purchases. From food to fashion I tend to try and find things that are produced in Britain (with food I try and buy local produce - which is easier than you think) and if not Britain then from the EU or USA.
When it comes to clothes that is getting harder and harder to do as very little of what is sold in British high street retail stores is made in Britain. What is more, the majority of items available at reasonable prices are made in countries where it is likely that their ethical codes of practice won't be as stringent as they are in the UK - India, China, Indonesia, Taiwan and so on - but if you need a shirt it has to be made somewhere.
So I use a simple rule of thumb when it comes to buying goods that are made in a country where manufacturing standards may be a little lax. Basically, if it is too cheap - regardless of how well made it is or the quality of the material - I won't buy it.
Look, it simply is not possible for someone to make a shirt in Indonesia, ship it all the way to England and sell it for £2 unless someone, somewhere is using very very cheap labour - possibly even child or slave labour. I don't care what the retailers say, I don't care what the manufacturers say - it can not be done.
Everyone knows that - whether they think about it or not - you don't have to be a high flying economist or manufacturing expert to work out that a shirt costing £2 in a shop must have a very dodgy background. That £2 includes the profit the shop is making and, for all the pile it high, sell it cheap philosophy, that profit must involve a few bob at least. It's not hard to work out.
But that is a personal choice. For me, it matters - but for many it doesn't. I don't care much whether people who buy these £2 shirts worry about the ethical background behind that shirt or not - for many I suspect that is a luxury they can not afford - but I do hate these companies who try to convince us that they didn't know.
They know that there is the material cost, the manufacturing cost (power, machinery, etc.) the manufacturer profit (yep, even the manufacturer makes a profit on that shirt), the transport cost and so on. And of course there is the cost of labour. These retailers know what that is - they know it is, at best a pittance, so they must know that it is exploitative.
Who are they trying to fool?