Wideboy Jeff Banks elbowed his way into my consciousness last month when he unleashed his ego on the unwitting British public during an interview on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour. He had been drafted in to debate the issues surrounding Lucy Siegle’s new book “To Die For: is fast fashion wearing out the world?” with the author.
If, like me, you had forgotten the man existed until this point, allow me to summarise his career highs:
- 1966 – opened ‘Clobber’ boutique
- 1970 – created the British Fashion Council (BFC)
- Late1970’s - opened high-street clothing store Warehouse
- 1984 - started Bymail, the UK’s first mail-order catalogue
- 1986 – 2000 – the Clothes Show was broadcast on BBC One, created and presented by Banks
- 1996 – founded incorporatewear, which supplies workers uniforms to companies such as Premier Inn and Barclays bank.
Banks may also be known to you (if you’re long enough in the tooth) for his famous “paraffin from a pram” venture, or perhaps from his visit to Swindon’s Designer Outlet Village just last month.
Fashion to the masses
Jeff Banks has been on a quest to bring fashion to the masses since his career began, about 300 years ago. Britain’s best-known trash-fash blabbermouth has previously stuck the boot in to high-end designers, childishly dismissing Stella McCartney’s clothes as “amateurish” and Alexander McQueen’s as “unwearable.” In fact, he has recently been heard ranting that the whole of London Fashion Week is “irrelevant”. I might be inclined to agree with him there, but you’d expect a little more compassion from the bloke who set up the BFC, the driving force behind the event.
Wildly contradicting his own opinions (designers don’t make clothes for real people), he’s also slammed Kate Moss for designing for Topshop.
And it seems Banks is equally as happy to wade in in defence of sweatshops.
‘Intense labour’, not sweatshops, apparently
During the Woman’s Hour debate, in what would appear to be typical contradictory form, he ranted that accusations of the fashion industry having no conscience are wide of the mark, while simultaneously admitting that consumers are “greedy”, and companies are “ruining global resources just to move money around”.
At one point he regressed to a pantomime-esque “No I didn’t! Yes you did!,” when scrambling to rebuff Siegle’s charge that cheap clothes are, well, crap. Banks spluttered that “economical” clothes from Asda, Primark or Matalan, aren’t poor quality, backing up his argument with this absolute stonker; “The amount of intensity that goes into manufacturing that product is very high.”
Sounds like a sweatshop to me Banks.
“And it’s not based on sweated labour, it’s not based on low moral standards, it’s actually doing a very good job.”
A very good job?
Having just read the brilliant book ‘Fair Wages’, I can assure him that most “economical” clothes probably are based on sweated labour. The book reveals that many garment workers in China (where 60% of global clothes are made) aren’t paid even the local minimum wage (which itself is often not enough to cover basic needs), never mind a living wage. I doubt that these workers would take kindly to some fat cat Western businessman telling them they’re doing a very good job.
Ambassador for the poor
Aside from Banks’ blatant fast-fashion propaganda, what really gets my goat is this slimy, self-centred toad masquerading as an ambassador for the downtrodden underclasses.
All they want is to buy a pretty dress every now and again – why are we miserable sods so determined to stamp out the one glimmer of joy in their otherwise bleak existences?
He may have come from a poor background, but Banksy’s made millions from fast fashion, and it’s clear as day that the only reason he defends it is to protect his own bank balance.
Whatever you do, don’t mention jeggings
Like a flapping and sweaty bug-eyed frog on a caffeine overdose, Banks got so roused by the debate that at irregular intervals his voice would fly to number 11 on the volume dial. And never more so than when Lucy Siegle dared to name jeggings the “style antichrist”. The poor guy’s heart nearly imploded. "JEGGINGS??! JEGGINGS… HAVE BEEN AROUND FOR 30 YEARS!!"
And so have you Jeff. Longevity isn’t necessarily a stamp of quality.