All the visible labels in the T-shirt neck area (Image: Toby Manhire)
All the visible labels in the T-shirt neck area (Image: Toby Manhire)

MediaMay 8, 2018

On Denise L’Estrange-Corbet’s statements about The Spinoff’s reporting

All the visible labels in the T-shirt neck area (Image: Toby Manhire)
All the visible labels in the T-shirt neck area (Image: Toby Manhire)

A note from the editor regarding the WORLD founder’s response to Spinoff revelations about its ‘Made in New Zealand’ garment labelling

Give Dame Denise L’Estrange-Corbet this: she didn’t attempt to hide from the story published on the Spinoff yesterday. The WORLD founder and ethical fashion proselytiser spoke widely to media, scattering arguments in her own defence like – how to put it – like sequins on a T-shirt.

She made a number of statements which were at best inaccurate, some of which went unchallenged by the radio hosts she spoke to. We list them below, followed by what our reporting actually revealed.

That “there is no garment in any of my stores that states that they’re made somewhere that they’re not made.”

That there was nothing to suggest the T-shirts in question, manufactured in Bangladesh, were made in New Zealand. “We don’t say that they’re made in New Zealand. The label is quite clear about that.”

(the T-shirts quite clearly carried tags attached to the collar that read, “Fabrique en Nouvelle Zelande” which is French for “Made in NZ”; labels on the inside lower hem said “Made in Bangladesh”, as stated in the original.)

That the labels that stated “Made in Bangladesh” were all in the neck collar.

(The Spinoff provides photographic evidence showing this to be false.)

All the visible labels in the T-shirt neck area (Image: Toby Manhire)

That the words “Fabrique en Nouvelle Zelande” printed on the tag attached to the T-shirt referred not to the T-shirt but the tag itself. “The WORLD clothing tags that say Made in NZ are Made in NZ, so there’s nothing misleading about this,” she said.


That customers usually ask for the “swing tag” to be removed at point of sale anyway, and over seven years no one has returned an item complaining they’d discovered it wasn’t made in NZ.

(OK, but this really is not the point.)

That the Spinoff was set upon “ripping to shreds” WORLD, that it was all an example of the NZ tall poppy syndrome, and that it was the kind of attention that imperiled WORLD’s continuing production in NZ. “The Tall Poppy syndrome I see is alive and well and still raging in NZ. Please remind me again why I should keep my production here?”

(The Spinoff has no wish to see WORLD ripped to shreds and wishes it well.)

That Hong Kong is not part of China, and the sequin patch on the T-shirt was made in Hong Kong. “Francis Hooper [WORLD’s co-founder] travels to Hong Kong. He actually personally goes to the factories and buys the sequinning for us. So he knows the factories, and how they run, and how ethical they are.”

(Hong Kong is part of China, albeit a “special administrative region”. The Spinoff does not know which factory they were made in, and L’Estrange-Corbet was unwilling to provide specifics. We do note that the patches are available online from at least two different vendors in mainland China – “mainland China” being the accepted shorthand for China minus Hong Kong.)

Coverage from last night’s Newshub and TVNZ bulletins

That the Spinoff has published allegations labels have been cut off.

(This became, over the course of yesterday, the WORLD founder’s primary argument. It is wrong. This is what happened. The Spinoff asked L’Estrange-Corbet about cutting off labels as part of emailed questions. She dismissed any such suggestion in response. Satisfied with this response, the Spinoff published no such allegation. When L’Estrange-Corbet on Monday morning urged us to publish the emailed questions and answer exchange “verbatim” and unedited, we obliged. The only change we did make was to include a clear note, which was there from the start, for avoidance of any doubt, that stated: “The Spinoff accepts that labels were not cut off”.)

That the Spinoff and its reporter Madeleine Chapman whose personal and professional integrity was shamefully attacked all day by L’Estrange-Corbet  were guilty of “gutter journalism” and “blatant lies”, all of which heralded “the death of journalism”, by publishing allegations that labels had been cut off.

(Per the above, this is demonstrably false and defamatory.)

That, after a telephone conversation with Spinoff managing editor Duncan Greive, the Spinoff had “pulled the article, and he has put up on the Spinoff the questions that she asked me and the answers that I gave, verbatim.”

(The Spinoff at no point pulled the article. It did add another article including her responses and the full questions and answers. Please read it here. The above remarks, by the way, were made by L’Estrange-Corbet as part of a RadioLive interview with Wendyl Nissen, who introduced her guest with “good afternoon, doll”, and farewelled her with “all right, doll, all the best!”)

It hardly needs saying, but for the record: the Spinoff stands foursquare behind its story and its outstandingly good reporter.

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