I saw your fluff piece in the Mail on Sunday. I’m sorry to hear that you’re facing a “wave of investor fury”, despite “ending your factories shame”.
I’ll be honest, I began reading your article in a sort of twisted, self-torturous way. How can anyone worth £120 million put themselves in public eye, looking for pity? Especially when many of the UK factories that made you rich were allegedly found to be employing people for less than minimum wage?
Yet once I started reading, I couldn’t stop. It said you’re “nurturing famous high street brands back to health”, like some kind of Mother Theresa to the British High Street. At the same time, it made you out to be a glamorous jet setter, wearing your “fair share of Gucci and Louis Vuitton”, and recently taking a “trip to Italy’s fashion hotspot Florence to meet new suppliers”, even if it involved suffering “enforced isolation” afterwards. Thankfully you were able to spend that time sorting through your “Staffordshire home ‘dressing rooms’ – previously bursting at the seams with your own clothes but now expanded considerably as part of your ongoing house renovation project.”
I wonder if you heard from within your dressing rooms that there is very public criticism that you’re drawing a salary of £450,000 from Boohoo, which you increased by 3.5% for yourself and Co-Founder Mahmud Kamani last year? You made this increase during a year which saw Boohoo allegedly pay illegally low wages to garment workers in third-party factories that were allegedly not Covid-safe. That little nugget of information, I found elsewhere online.
Thankfully, of course, you “made significant efforts to draw a line under the furore”. Because, of course, the furore is the issue. Not the workers being exploited. And instead of creating clear lines of communication between yourself and your garment workers, or better yet, providing workers the structure to unionise, you made Boohoo’s alleged crimes into a Crime Drama. As you say yourself, you’ve “gone to a forensic level”. You’ve “exposed factories”. You’ve “uncovered fraudulent activity”. You brought in lawyer Alison Levitt QC, retired judge Sir Brian Leveson, and even former police commissioners to “‘forensically’ examine” your supply base.
(Side note: I especially enjoyed how Alison Levitt QC’s report begins with her outlining her impartiality, before dedicating more than three sides of A4 to praising Boohoo, and then quickly removing Boohoo from any responsibility for the conditions these factory workers experienced.)
At the very least, I was relieved to hear that you felt “humiliated” by the “scandal”. How embarrassing, to have known about all these issues since December 2019, and to not do anything about it until it found its way to the press in Summer 2020. Like an adulterer caught red-handed, you’ve proceeded to insist you will now act as a “‘champion’ for Leicester”, just like the many cheaters of this world act as a “champion” for their initial relationships.
Did you ever even apologise?
To top it off, I’m so glad you conclude on the topic of sustainability. You really know your stuff, asking your suppliers “what can we do that’s sustainable?” and revealing that you’re “looking into growing [y]our own cotton so we can go from farm to factory.” I find it ultra-reassuring that the Chief of one of the UK’s biggest fashion houses can completely ignore social sustainability, opting for colonialist-like ownership of cotton farms instead. I also love how relatable you are, with “high street stuff like Topshop or Miss Selfridge” still in your wardrobe from “ten or 15 years” ago. Loved clothes certainly last!
And of course, you’re right when you say “There hasn’t been such a demand [for sustainable fashion] in the last few years”, but thankfully you’ve seen “a massive drive from the influencers who are wanting to work with sustainable brands”. You say “‘that tells me there’s a sea change to come.'”
As one of those influencers, I only see two possible sea changes:
- The rising tides caused by climate crisis, of which you are a major contributor, or;
- The drowning of brands like Boohoo, and your exploitative fast fashion practices.
I understand that this article is nothing more than a vote from the red-topped media to encourage your investors to keep you in your role. But honestly, how low can you get?
– Besma @besmacc
P.S. Loved hearing how you too enjoy binge-watching Vikings. Let’s grab a cocktail sometime and giggle over Ragnar?