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France's Knicker Industry: In A Twist And Losing Jobs

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Think French underwear, think French knickers.

No, think again.

Think men's pants, patriotic pants with a white waistband embossed with the colours of the French flag and selling for around £32 ($49; 37 euros) a pair.

I must admit I was mainly thinking about the price as I watched the Le Slip Francais label being machine-stitched into a large pair of jersey cotton boxers, but I'm sure the company director, Guillaume Gibault, was thinking that Gallic confidence was at last being restored to where it matters most.

"It was a bet," he laughs, "a bet to show it's still possible to make things in France."

"Le Slip Francais is just like a little Frenchman saying, 'Yeah, we can still do it!'" he added.


Tangled in high taxes and wedged by rigid labour codes, France's knickers are in a twist.

Last year the leading luxury underwear firm Lejaby prompted national fury when it relocated to Tunisia in a bid to bring down production and labour costs.

When a French business pays a worker, it must pay almost the same amount again in social charges, national insurance and so on.

Unable to compete with cheaper products coming from European neighbours and from Asia, many smaller textile firms have simply folded.

The financial burden of the famed social model has made it practically impossible for manufacturers to compete globally.

OK then how high is it for the other industrialised countries? Are these benefit costs as high in the UK, US, Germany?

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  • 241 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

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      • down 5% +
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