Misleading labelling is pulling the wool over customer’s eyes

High street retailer confusing shoppers with ‘Fake it British’ branding

Fake it British Bulldog misleading label

When you see a coat for £59.99 with words like ‘luxury’ and ‘wool’ together, along with talk of traditional tailoring and a picture of a British bulldog, what thoughts does it conjure up?

Well if you are anything like some of the shoppers that saw this coat in a promotion in TK Maxx this week, you might have thought you were getting yourself a bargain.

But look closer, and you will see that things aren’t quite what they seem on the surface.

Thanks to Brant Richards, founder of British-made menswear brand HebTroCo, who spotted this coat by The Spitalfields Clothing Co., in his local Halifax branch of TK Maxx.

Fake it British TK Maxx Spitalfields coat
Spotted: Brant Richards of HebTroCo came across this coat by The Spitalfields Clothing Co. being sold in TK Maxx

Made from a ‘luxury wool blend’, and sporting a label with a bulldog wearing a top hat and bowtie, the label tells of its “immense pride that the Spitalfields Clothing Co reflects British fashion at its finest”.

TK Maxx Spitalfields British style wool coat, Fake it British

But look inside, as Brant did, and you will discover that 90% of the cloth is made from that most un-luxury of fibres – polyester! And ‘British fashion at its finest’ is actually made in China!

Whilst there is nothing essentially wrong with calling a fabric a ‘wool blend’, because the coat does have 10% wool fibres in it, calling it luxury is stretching the truth somewhat.

And although nowhere does the retailer or the labelling say that the coat is made in Britain, talk of Spitalfields being the ’centre for fine gentleman’s attire’ does give the impression that you are buying something that has been made by a tailor in the East End of London, rather than the Far East!

If someone walks into TK Maxx and thinks that they can get a ‘British’ wool coat for less than 60 quid, what does that do to the price perception of brands that genuinely make in the UK, using 100% wool cloth?

Authentic British brands like HebTroCo invest heavily in relationships with UK manufacturers, developing products that are made to last, using the cloth made from natural fibres from UK mills with decades of experience. They aren’t the cheapest, but you get what you pay for.

When other brands and retailers try to piggyback onto this British brand wagon, selling inferior products at ridiculously low prices, it’s misleading to the consumer. It’s what we call Fake it British.

Spitalfields TK Maxx made in China wool coat, Fake it British

Here’s what brant had to say upon discovery of the ‘luxury wool blend’ coat, made from only 10% wool: 

It’s just ridiculous. This is like when you get a meat and potato pie from the pub – there’s only a tiny meat content needed. I mean, how can a Wool Blend only have 10% wool? It’s crackers! Why do the government allow this?

Although they’re not doing anything illegal with all the British imagery and references, and it does obviously say “Made in China” on it, for those of us making stuff in the UK really doesn’t seem very fair.

Brant Richards, Co-founder, HebTroCo

But before you say “what if I can only afford to pay £60 for a coat?”

If that is all you have to spend on an item that you will wear at least 5 days a week for the next 6 months, don’t waste your money on tat like this one from The Spitalfields Clothing Co / TK Maxx. Because chances are that ‘luxury wool blend’ will have gone bobbly and threadbare within a few weeks and will be fit for nothing but the dustbin.

Instead, either save up your pennies and buy from authentic British-made menswear brands or go to your local charity shop and pick up something pre-loved that is made from 100% wool.

Want further convincing about the true value of buying a quality coat? Head to this article about the true cost of buying British-made.

Spotted something ‘Fake it British’ in your local store? Let us know in the comments below

7 thoughts on “Misleading labelling is pulling the wool over customer’s eyes”

  1. I am really upset with a company called Seasalt – its claim to be a Cornish company selling ladies clothes. The label on the back of the collar just shows Seasalt Cornwall but when you find the washing instructions its then that you find out that the origin of the garment is usually India or China and the quality is not that good. I think this is grossly misleading – at first sight it appears that the product is coming from Cornwall and it is easy to buy not knowing the true origins

  2. We absolutely need to call out these brands. Nothing will change until consumers take control, call them out, boycott them and name and shame them all over social media. Let’s see TKMaxx respond to this and justify their label. Retailers and manufacturers are screwing us over for profit margins. Not everyone checks a label. You assume you are not being lied to. And the loop hole in what constitutes a UK made product, which means companies can effectively lie to their customers, and not be seen to be breaking the law is at best shady and at worst illegal.

  3. They’ve improved it… just bought the same one but it’s made in Cambodia and is 40% wool. Seemed ok for me in the cold today.. it was £80 though

    1. Mine says 50/50 I think at this stage they just made up several numbers, anyone want to scientifically test my coat ?

  4. I got one of those for £15,. I read labels so I knew what I was buying and can call a fake from afar. However I bought it because it was the perfect fit to my body shape and the price was unreal. Interestingly enough, this brand has a website where everything is out of stock, and I have only been able to find it in certain outlets. If you read the labels, they are improving the % of wool as of late. In any case I have seen more cases were wool garments in the shop can’t be found in the website of the brand, or have different aesthetics. Those blends are around 50% wool / 50% synthetic, which sometimes it is not bad for the durability of the fabric. But still raises the question.

  5. Can anyone clarify please what origin labelling must/should be shown on a garment sold in UK? If looking at a garment from a brand I don’t know or who manufactures in multiple places I acidly check for the country of origin, but a good proportion don’t specify it seems, TIA

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