MAS Intimates– Globe Award Sustainable Innovation winner

This company represents a radical rethinking of garment production in the developing world. Generally when clothes and any country in the developing world is put together, people think about Sweatshops, exploitation, chemically intensive production and artificial materials. MAS Intimates is an entirely different proposition.

They embarked on the ambitious task of creating a factory to create green and climate friendly apparel that supports the education and livelihoods of those local Sri Lankans that live there (within 25km of the factory). The kicker of course is that Marks & Spencers , a key client, were not willing to pay any more for the clothes. So, MAS took a broad and integrated approach and focused on cost efficiencies to ensure that the factory could compete on price while also focusing on the personal development, wellbeing and education of the workforce. This new factory employs 1050 local Sri Lankans for wages three times higher than the minimum wage and each employee has their own career development plan.

It is a very interesting challenge for an ethical apparel manufacturer that does not have a direct relationship to the consumer and has to deal with retailers who are not or were not willing to alter their prices for more ethical, sustainable apparel. What I find absolutely fascinating is that MAS Intimates, whose key clients include true giants such as Marks & Spencers and Victoria’s Secret, is evidence of a changing world, a world where those countries that were expected to provide lowest priced labour, big manufacturing capacity and low cost has changed. Now MAS intimates, in addition to manufacturing their products at a highly competitive price (in a way that is environmentally and socially responsible) also add value in terms of product design and research and development.

This value added strategy and development trajectory of MAS echoes the changes seen in the Indian IT outsourcing Industry. Maybe this is the beginning of a fundamental rebalancing in the global economy towards a world that is more equal and equitable. Maybe, on this model there will no longer be a place in the world that firms can flee to for rock-bottom labour prices while practicing social and environmental practices. Congratulations to MAS Intimates and may you conquer the world!

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