Thursday, March 03, 2011


I want to say a big thank you to everyone who expressed their views (and hopefully will continue to do so) about the Made in Australia issue that I have been blogging about over the past few days.  I originally blogged about it because I was genuinely surprised that Nancybird didn't manufacture in Australia and I was curious in general whether this sort of information encouraged or dissuaded people to buy a product - any product. It's definitely a complex and massive issue and obviously one that is not going to be resolved by this blog or anytime soon.  I certainly didn't intend to try and resolve it - it was something that has been on my mind for a couple of weeks, and the blog is a place where I like to talk about these things sometimes, get feedback - have my opinions challenged and opposed.  It's important to me, because I like to think and I definitely like to be informed.

I am also really glad that Emily took the time to respond - she is clearly extraordinarily passionate about her business, and is invested in running an ethical and sustainable design business.  I really do wish the best for her as I have always loved what Nancybird have created.

I am genuinely not trying to persuade anyone to either support or boycott the label, of course we should support local designers and small Australian industry, but I think we do need to be informed to make the right decision for ourselves.  My Georgie partner Bec, who discovered the label in her bag and was as disappointed as I am has actually changed her mind with the conversations we have been having.  Having visited Hong Kong earlier this year and viewed some terrible conditions, she is quite passionate about this issue. I hope she doesn't mind me repeating our conversation, but her viewpoint is:

I think nancybird is back on my list of shops okay to shop at. and this is why:

Emily is clearly passionate and has made decisions based on what she feels is ethical and fair. throughout her email, she struck me as honest and i believe that she would not allow practices like those we associate with 99% of the products out of china to be associated with her brand. because of course money is important, but so are her ethics. ROCK ON NANCYBIRD, via Emily.

I think this is great and this is the point of debate and discussions - people have to do what they are comfortable with.  As for me, I am not so sure at the moment.  There is clearly a Nancybird bag that I am currently have a passionate long distance affair with, but I think first I would try and purchase something I know is made locally first .


JoeyNomad said...

I followed the discussion and I thought it was so interesting - I take your point of view completely but it was also enlightening to read Nancybird's response. I have just started selling my own little bits and pieces and it is incredibly hard to compete with companies who produce overseas. I had one lady say to me about a pair of my baby pants "but I can get baby pants from Bonds for $20". Hum. I mean, I already put such a teeny mark up on my items that it almost makes me think twice about whether it's worth selling them. So I think I understand the need to manufacture elsewhere to be able to compete with lower prices but where will that lead us? I worry that we often can't have insight into or control overseas manufacturing standards, and I think that's where the pressure needs to be applied. I think it's great that Nancybird are so involved and care about the standards in the factory they are using, but other brands certainly do not (as the BBC documentary on Threads revealed). I think consumers should demand insight into manufacturing standards so that they can say no to non-ethical products. Thanks for posting this Sally!

Frankie and Ray said...

And isn't it fantastic that we live in a country that allows us to freely have this kind of debate? Perhaps it's our sense of powerlessness about what is presented to us as consumers that's really the heart of the issue. And a big thanks to you Sally for never shirking the big issues here on your blog. No, we may not be able to save the world in this forum, but we can all have a damn good think.

Ink and Spindle said...

But Sally, where does one draw the line? If the fabrics used are MADE in (toxic/questionable processes!!) and imported from (carbon miles!) China they're ok, but if they're sewn in China they're not ok..?

It seems silly to grab one tiny part of the whole process to hone in on. Particularly when it could possibly by the least evil of all the processes!!

I feel this discussion needs to begin where the production begins (at the farms where the cotton & cows are grown!) if we hope to have an informed, legitimate opinion as consumers.

xx Teegs

Georgie Love said...

Hi Teegs,

Thanks so much for taking the time to contribute to this issue - it's awesome to have such a wide variety of perspectives and experiences. The funny thing is - I absolutely agree with you on all points.

I started Georgie Love 5 years ago because I was passionate about creating a space for people to purchase items that were handmade locally and ethically. I know and can appreciate how difficult it is for any maker to start a profitable business that is self sustaining, particularly in a market where we are flooded with cheap, factory produced imports. Educating the consumer is a start - if you want something made locally and ethically, you need to pay the maker fairly.

Of course I have many, many chinese manufactured items - as everyone does. It's, I would say, impossible to avoid. However, I think a person can make informed choices where and when they can. I love and admire that Emily is so transparent about her manufacturing origins, but at the same time as that informs me, it also empowers me to decide if I want to purchase it. Particularly as an individual with the tools, resources and network to source a bag that is made in Melbourne (I have been recently looking at leather bags to purchase). You are absolutely right about fabric as well - we need to support and put pressure on local industry to fulfil the need to produce and use in their manufacturing process locally sourced everything. And obviously also put pressure on ALL industry to be upfront and transparent about how, where and with what their items are made.

The truth is and I have tried to highlight this in everything I have written about it - I don't know what the answer is and I don't know what the correct ethical choices are. I wrote my original blog post as I was having second thoughts about making a purchase and was curious about how other individuals approach this dilemma. Do people consider origins of manufacture, how do they feel about imported items etc. I didn't anticipate, perhaps naively, that we would all then get in this much wider conversation, but I am glad we have because it's certainly informed me and given me so much food for thought over the past few days.