A public feud has broken out between ethical fashion designer Katharine Hamnett and UK grocery-retailer Tesco. The pair teamed up to sell an organic tee stating “Choose Love” in select Tesco stores. Bringing eco-fashion to the masses. Sounds great, right?
Hamnett isn’t so happy anymore. She feels that Tesco’s commitment to the environment isn’t quite so sincere. Could it be she says so because the store has chosen to sell her product line in only 40 of its 1,800 stores? That was the original agreement. Perhaps Katharine was expecting that number to grow over time. She said, “I was initially really excited about the tie-up,” but thinks instead that Tesco “simply wants to appear ethical, rather than make a full commitment to the range.”
Her style of tees was originally very popular in the 1980s, with her “Choose Life” shirt being prominently featured in Wham‘s Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go music video (see below). Incidentally, “Choose Life” in those days was meant to address the issues of drug abuse and suicide, not abortion. In recent years she’s worked towards making her line much more ethical & sustainable and continues with political, social, and environmental messaging.
We’re not sure if Tesco is deserving of Hamnett’s critique. They have made progress on green, including offering rewards for bringing your own bags. They also offer cell phone & ink cartridge recycling. However, are they not promoting their new green fashion line sufficiently? While I agree with Forbes when they say, “one might be tempted to believe that if Hamnett’s clothes were flying off the shelves, Tesco would make more of a ‘commitment,'” it is possible the store is not sufficiently promoting the line. For instance, why is the eco-line not listed as a brand on their fashion website?
Perhaps this little feud will be just what the clothing line needed in publicity, and sales will begin to pick up? We’ll be watching.