The rag trade is hard graft - just ask the string of Kiwi clothing shops who've failed in the last year.

Many New Zealand retailers - from new entrants to the most experienced operators - have struggled to adapt to the intense and relentless competition introduced by online shopping giants.

And so few people would condemn local companies who make the call to shift manufacturing overseas during a time when global juggernauts' rock-bottom labour costs allow them to entice Kiwi shoppers with rock-bottom prices.

It's unfortunate for Dame Denise L'Estrange-Corbet that she is one of the few.


Just over a fortnight ago she spoke out against fellow fashion designers about having clothes made "in a third world country".

She held forth on how disappointed she was with her industry colleagues over where they source their products and their lack of what she described as "moral obligation".

It's why revelations that a handful of L'Estrange-Corbet's t-shirts are made in Bangladesh are all the more damaging for her World chain.

It is admirable that World, since it started in the late eighties, has made the vast majority of its clothes in New Zealand.

That commitment to Kiwi manufacturing has no doubt won World favour with consumers who feel strongly, and can afford to care, about where their clothes are produced.

I find it hard to believe that those consumers would desert the brand because it struggled to find someone to locally make a small fraction of their garments.

It is much more likely, in my view, that they would take their money elsewhere if they think the chain can't live up to the expectations it sets for others.