I visited a whole bunch of our makers this year. It was so great, it really filled my heart with all of the people, all specialists in their field, helping us create our range.
I've got a 3 year old now, and it meant that I didn't visit any makers for a little over 3 years (usually I travel twice a year for visits!)
This visit, China looked so different to me. Tall eucalyptus trees lined the freeways in Dong Guan and there were blue, sunny skies - in previous visits air quality had been a real issue. Many people I chatted to spoke of all the big factories moving away, to Vietnam and other parts of China - due to high wages and high environmental standards making the cost of producing there less attractive. (I was really pleased to see and hear of these things though - blue skies! no pollution! high wages! high environmental standards from government! Yes!)
Hangzhou, in northern China, where we produce our digitally printed, and often silk garments and scarves, was unexpectedly green and lush. I became obsessed with taking pictures in the back of the car of signs on buildings, but my absolute favourite thing there, was the digital printing factory. All of their waste water, as is typical, is held in settling pools on site. As the particles of waste settle the water is then taken to another pool for further filtering, etc etc until the water is at an acceptable level to be disposed of. The "hard" waste is then picked up by government agencies who dispose of it. What I loved, was a digital sign, displayed for all to see on the front of the building, probably 2 metres wide or so, with the ph levels and other indications of water quality from the settling pools, displayed in either green or red, depending on whether the levels were at approved levels. So as soon as they are not complying with standards, everybody knows about it. Love that.
Here are some of my photos from the road, in Dong Guan and Hangzhou, China.