On April 24th, 2013 Rana Plaza collapsed killing over 1,000 and injuring over 2,000. The eight story building housed clothing factories, a bank, apartment homes, and several shops. The lower levels were closed and people were evacuated once cracks were noticed, owners ignored the warning signs to close the building the day before. Factory garment workers were told to return to work the following day and the building collapsed during morning rush-hour.
Who made my clothes?
I made a personal pledge to shop more ethically and fair trade focused in 2015, after my first Dressember experience. Before then I hadn’t bought much that was ‘ethically made’ and if we’re being honest I wasn’t sure where to start. I began with the idea that I would buy things as necessary, I often failed at this but began to notice the holes in my wardrobe and when I filled them I chose ethically made pieces. I tell you all this because if you are wanting to convert your wardrobe please know it takes time, I started 5 years ago and am happy today with a mostly ethical closet.
Today, I know who made most of my clothes. I still have pieces from Target in there, but I’m working to wear them out before I replace them. (While ethically made is important to me, so is sustainability and textile waste.) I’m still given clothes as gifts, and I plan to use and enjoy them as much as possible before donating or thrifting.
What has changed?
Back in ye olden days there were two retail seasons for clothing, fall/winter and spring/summer that is why we still have runway shows for these 2 prominent seasons in the opposite season. Because it gave designers the oppurtunity show off their designs/work and allowed buyers to order, then garment factories had time to manufactuer pieces before the start of the season. Yes, really. Now we have many more micro retail seasons, which drives our fast fashion economy and our insane amount of textile waste. And the unhealthy way garment workers are treated.
While Ethical Fashion & Purchase with Purpose have become buzz words in the last several years, you still need to be aware of greenwashing. Brands for the most part are open to being transparent and even some larger brands are actively working towards sustainable goals. More small ethically focused boutiques have shown up making it easier to shop, and there are a lot of online options. Including wearwell, which offers a monthly membership to be styled by a human stylist with fair trade, ethically made and sustainably focused pieces that fit your lifestyle. (shameless plug…sign up and request me as your stylist!)
And in just the last year the Bangladesh Accord has made a lot of noise. The Accord is an independent, legally binding agreement between brands and trade unions to work towards a safe and healthy garment and textile industry in Bangladesh. The Accord covers factories producing Ready-Made Garments (RMG) and at the option of signatory companies, home textiles and fabric & knit accessories. Several brands who have their garment factories in Bangladesh have signed the accord. While I think the Accord is a step in the right direction, I feel it’s important for brands to do the hard work and make sure their employees are safe and cared for. If we want to change business, then businesses need to change. It’s important to me that garment workers are cared for because more than 80% of garment workers are women. (Clean Clothes campaign) This is an ethical issue as much as it is a feminist issue.
What you can do…
Purchase from brands dedicated to caring for their employees. Look for brands like Elegantees, who use organic cotton, employ young women who are at high risk of being trafficked or have been rescued from trafficking and are provided with skills and the opportunity to support themselves. Look for brands like The Root Collective that employ small batch artisans who work in the poorest areas of Guatemala to provide jobs. Look for subscriotion services like Globe In that buy from artisan groups all over the world bringing hand crafted goods to your door. Look for brands like Noonday Collection, Sseko Designs, and Equal Exchange. When you choose to buy from brands that focus on employing folks, you are solving a bigger problem. Look for brands like live fashionABLE, who work with disadvantaged women locally in Nashville, and Mexico, and Ethiopia, who publish their wages to become the most transparent brand out there.
This post is not sponsored in any way. But there are affiliate links in this post, that earn me income when you shop through them.