I'm almost embarassed to admit it, but I first saw Aubin & Wills Portland Jumper in this paparazzi photo of Taylor Swift. I'm not a fan and I don't recall how I stumbled across the picture in the first place. I do recall saying to myself - THAT is a super cute sweater! I did a little googling and found out who made it and where I could buy it.
The Aubin & Wills website was sold out of the oatmeal color, but still had a large in charcoal. It was the last one in stock, so I was just hoping it would fit. I didn't see an indicator of where it was made either, so I crossed my fingers and completed the purchase.
The impression that the Aubin & Wills website gives is that it is a long standing British brand with a long heritage of creating fine crafted goods. They use marketing slogans such as "A genuine refined quality that is always guaranteed." I even found a page on their website about their brand protection. All of this said quality workmanship to me and that I was getting my moneys worth from my purchase.
The packaging the sweater arrived in also said quality (custom printed tissue paper, branded tissue seals). I opened the wrapper gingerly, careful not to tear the tissue or the labels. Whenever I receive a package where the item is wrapped with such care, I can't bring myself to just tear into the tissue paper. Inside the sweater was folded nicely, complete with a piece of tissue paper in-between the sweater body and the folded arms.
If you look closely, you can see the fox crying a small tear because I can't keep him on principle.
The sweater had fancy hang tags proclaiming "Made from the highest quality fabrics available by the most skilled craftsmen. This product has been made to last and last. It can be passed down from generation to generation. It is to be cherished and loved, cared for and mended where necessary." and "The noted establishment for the finest threads and silks and unsurpassed workmanship." I began to search for the "Made In" tag. It wasn't in the neckline, but I did find it on the side seam.
I headed over to my favorite place to buy hand made goods: Etsy and dug around a bit to see what I might pay for a custom sweater. There are plenty of people who will knit you a sweater to your custom specifications for under $200.00 any day of the week. Heck, I even found a lady who knits unicorn sweaters in one of five standard colors, or in any color you want! All for $80.00 USD. I'd much rather put money directly in the hands of the craftspeople instead of going through the unknown conduit of a retail brand website and ending up with Chinese goods.
C'mon! You know you want a unicorn sweater!
We the consumers have to send the message to the retail establishments that we will not provide the financial backing to support the continued exploitation of the Chinese labor force at below living wages and substandard working conditions. You have to vote with your feet and your wallet.