fashionista, for a long long time I wasn’t really thinking about where I am buying my clothes. I am always ready for endless wandering around for vintage hunts so with all of my clothes that I was collecting over the years I could easily open decent boutique. From early age I am experimenting with DIY. And there’s of course the bunch of high street brands that I buy. As I wasn’t obsessed with where I am buying my clothes calling myself open-minded I wasn’t obsessed either with where my clothes had come from. So one day, feeling all open-minded I saw short films on BBC Thread about few British girls and boys that took part of this project where they saw in real the factory and worked with people that produce their clothes. I was always somehow avoiding the day when I will have to go to my room, open my closet and see the truth. After I saw these short films I started with checking of my non-vintage or designer clothes hanged so carefully in my closet. And on tags - list of countries like I was traveling around the world in 80 days. Don’t get me wrong, I love Malaysia, Taiwan and Vietnam but these labels in my closet are not from some Malaysian, Taiwanese or Vietnamese designer. They are all British, American, Swedish or Spanish labels.
How come? It’s simple; most of the high-street fashion is produced in third-world factories called the sweatshops. These retailers don’t own the sweatshops but they sew the clothes there because it allows producing of fast fashion caused by today’s trends. Trend changes overnight, market is huge. Briefly, it brings the profit.
So what is the real cost of our super affordable dresses? You bought a lovely dress on the sale that costs few pounds or dollars and has the made on the other continent tag. How much costs fabric, details on dress and transportation? How much costs at the end most important: The Hands that made it on sewing machine. Seems that those hands don’t cost anything. And why? Because your dress is probably made in sweatshop.
What is sweatshop? Sweatshop is factory that has working conditions unacceptable by countries with high standard of living, wage is under minimum, includes children labor and with its cruelty violates basic human rights. Although we like to believe that sweatshops are placed just in third- world countries, they also exist in many first-world countries that proclaim themselves as democratic and developed.
Big corporations like to think that with sweatshop labor they are helping the locals in third-world countries by providing them jobs (read meal). Yes we know about poverty and cultural differences, but at the end we are all the same and no one deserves to work in these awful conditions. Maybe those that want to provide jobs should look upon brands as People Tree and Asos and its Africa line and many others to find out what they do about that. So ethical Fashion Company would be the company that respects not only the environment but also people, and not just people that come into the glossy store, they respect those people that are producing for them.
As the consumers we have the right to demand few things when we buy the latest fashion! Money in today’s system doesn’t grow on the trees so you should be careful how and where you are going to spend it. Of course it would be very naive to think that with one consumer’s behavior world will become a better place, but that consumer is part of this community. And community makes our planet.
It’s hard not to buy clothes from the label that is affordable and really really knows your style. Believe me, I know that very well. My advice is if you want the affordable rather buy the vintage stuff. Also on this great Internet of ours you can find a lot of advices about recycling and DIY. Every that little DIY you do is recycling and you did something good for community and the planet. Avoid malls and big clothing lines if you can. There are so many independent designers around that are offering affordable fashion that is cruelty free. Also there are your local designers and all the busy bees on pages like Etsy.
Furthermore today when market is overloaded with products, it’s hard to distinguish ethical from unethical because your local designer, that sells just on Etsy and it’s ethical, if not fabrics, buys zippers or buttons that may be made in sweatshops. But even if that is true, the designs aren’t made in sweatshop. And at the end do we want that our rituals of dressing, which are beautiful and for many of us something sacred have such a bad karma. A new dress makes us happy, but should we think about if that dress had made someone else unhappy?
* You must know that all of the clothes I share with you here on misslikey are not sweatshop free. That’s why there’s you and your lovely mind to decide.
photo via Webgol on flickr
If you want to know more about the subject visit:
Labour Behind the Label
The Clean Clothes Campaign