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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Produced for £60 in an East End factory, the Posh frocks stars snap up for £1,500

By John Stevens and Colin Fernandez

Her designer frocks have won plaudits on the Paris and Milan catwalks and found favour with the most glittering celebrities.

But Victoria Beckham’s £1,500 haute couture dresses are made in far less auspicious conditions.

The spring and summer collection is being stitched together in a shabby factory with a broken window on a bleak East London industrial estate for just £60 a dress, the Daily Mail can reveal.

Neighbouring businesses include a bargain tyre warehouse and a spare parts garage where battered cars are fitted with new gearboxes.

A greasy spoon café and a kebab shop are among the local dining options.

Inside the first-floor factory, around 30 mainly Bangladeshi and Bengali workers earning £8 an hour sew the garments that will grace Hollywood stars and well-heeled fashionistas.

The dresses, which are understood to have cost £60 to make, not including material, go on sale from £1,425 at Harrods, Selfridges and Net-a-Porter.com next month.

Industry sources explained that the ‘double crepe’ material used to make the dresses would be expected to cost around a further £50 per garment.

Mrs Beckham’s self-titled label reported sales in excess of £15million in the first quarter of 2011, putting it on track to make £60million this year.

Mrs Beckham, 37, debuted her first designs in 2008. Her dresses have become a popular feature of the red carpet, worn by stars including Demi Moore, Eva Longoria, Cameron Diaz, Gwyneth Paltrow, Drew Barrymore and Elle Macpherson.

She also wore one of her own numbers when she accompanied her husband David to the Royal Wedding this year.

So far the workers have made around 1,500 dresses in five designs this season.

They are currently producing a navy and tangerine block print dress and a navy and black version in the same style.

There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by Mrs Beckham or the factory, which appears to be well-run.

Mrs Beckham is understood never to have visited the factory, which she has been working with for three years, but has previously sent handwritten thank you and Christmas cards.

When approached by the Mail, Chomok Ali, who co-owns the factory with Allan Scott, said he would need to get permission from Mrs Beckham before he could comment.

‘I’ve been trying to get through to them about something else, but I can’t,’ he said.

Hard at work: A seamstress puts together one of Mrs Beckham's dresses in a factory in Leyton, east London. They are paid £8 per hour

Giveaway: The label shows it is one from her range

Mr Ali said he could not afford a smarter factory, adding: ‘That’s the fashion industry. Here, the business isn’t actually good enough to make the factory glamorous.

‘There’s not enough production. We work in batches, and there is a gap between the seasons, so we’ll have nothing to do for a few months before the next season begins, and we have to pay the overheads for that.’

He declined to comment on claims that the dresses cost just £60 to make.

A spokesman for Mrs Beckham said: ‘Victoria Beckham’s Ready To Wear dress collection is proudly made by skilled dressmakers, in London using the very best fabrics, corsetry and hardwear detailing.

'We are recognised around the world as an award-winning, British, creative company and we choose to support British industry rather than making our dress more cheaply abroad.

Factory floor: So far, the workers have made around 1,500 dresses in five designs this season

‘Our retail prices reflect the exclusivity, top quality design and craftsmanship that goes into every one of our hand made, signature dresses.’

Mrs Beckham’s label received a cool welcome from the notoriously snobbish style pack when it launched.

But she won over her critics and her label was named Fashion Brand of the Year at the British Fashion Awards this year.

Her range also includes luxury handbags, which cost up to £18,000.

She also has Victoria Beckham Denim, Victoria Beckham Eyewear and two fragrances. Last night a spokesman for Mrs Beckham declined to comment.
Lingerie chain La Senza last night announced plans to enter administration due to ‘poor trading conditions’.

But the retailer, which has 2,600 UK staff at 146 stores and 18 concessions, said it would continue to trade as normal and there have been no unplanned redundancies or store closures.

Outdoor clothing retailer Blacks Leisure also fuelled speculation yesterday that it would go into administration. The chain put itself up for sale this month but said the only offers it had received would have left its shares worthless.



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