High street retailer confusing shoppers with ‘Fake it British’ branding
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.
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”.
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.
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?Brant Richards, Co-founder, HebTroCo
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.
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.