Folksy Ltd

Butterfly Twists Yet Another Big Business Misusing The Word Handmade

I’ve been attacking this company on Facebook for a while but never expected to hear back from them. However, yesterday another couple of ladies agreed with my comments and this prompted “Rob” to provide me with his e-mail address and here is his reply. (I’ve had to type it as Folksy can’t take the file size for my screen shop)

Rob Young rob@butterflytwists.com

Hi Samantha

My team passed on your enquiry and I also saw your comment on Facebook questioning our use of the term “handmade.”

Our shoes are made with the use of tools and machines but are still stitched by professional seamstresses and for that reason we believe the term stands.

If they were to be made entirely by robots then we would of course not state it.

I’m sure you can appreciate that in this day and age hardly any products are made entirely by hand and those that have been in the past have almost always required the use of tools. Even a cake requires an oven to bake. In 2017 our tools are sewing machines.

All products are cut, stitched and finished by humans and as we rather wittily replied IMHO - sewing machines still require hands to operate.

I hope this helps and you enjoy our products. Here is a £10 voucher to help you do so.

Have a great day and don’t hesitate to contact me directly if you have any more questions.

Best,

Rob Young Head of E-Commerce.

The arrogance of this chap is breathtaking. And please also note the #everydaysexism when he talks of “seamstresses” working in the factory. Please help me educate this young man as to the error of his ways @folksycontent

Sam x

This is always going to be a thorny issue. Big business has people operating machines to produce their products but how many of us are also using machines (be it a sewing machine, dremel or electric kiln) to help us make our products? The difference is in the mindset of the person behind the machine so maybe rather than calling our items ‘hand made’ we should switch to ‘artisan made’ to differentiate us from them - their sewing machine operators might be humans with hands but I doubt they are artisans, if we asked them to make some knee high stilettos rather than their standard ballet pumps they would struggle whilst a proper cobbler wouldn’t have any issues.

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It is tricky! The bit about robots really got my goat. Everything has some human input somewhere along the line. The term “handmade” has been adopted by the artisan community but it didn’t take the big boys long to catch onto it. I replied to “Rob” and asked him whether or not his “seamstresses” worked in factories and where these factories were. He has since stated that it is indeed “factories” plural and that they are “family run businesses” but not where any of them are. As you say, these workers (who probably are all women) are probably paid a pittance to do the same sewing task over and over again. Probably none of them ever even make a whole shoe, let alone a pair of knee-high stillettos! And the factories are in China. That famous land of family businesses.

Sam x

The use of the term ‘handmade’ in this instance could be considered ‘misleading’ under the Trades Descriptions Act, especially if it the value is perceived to be higher because of it.

Handmade is usually understood to mean small-scale or individually handmade items, with an element of design input by the maker, not mass-produced, assembly-line production, even if the process does include an element of making by humans.

It’s a grey area, up to interpretation, but I’d say the intention here is to mislead buyers into thinking they’re getting something more than a factory-made, mass-produced shoe. It might be worth flagging it to Trading Standard and see what they say.

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Thanks @ciesse! I think you’re absolutely right, and I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me before. The term “handmade” ceases to mean anything at all if it is applied to an assembly line.

Sam x

Apparently they’re now looking into their wording.

Sam x

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