Another article appeared a few months ago about the horrific conditions of the fashion industry. This time, it was about women who were promised good jobs, but were actually modern-day slaves held by guards in a factory making clothing for H&M in India.
It’s shocking information, but have you ever wondered if a $19.99 blouse you bought from H&M is creating modern slaves?
As consumers, we lull ourselves into ignoring these horrific conditions because it’s just comfortable to buy cheap clothing. Previous generations might have worn eight outfits during one month. Now, we have 30.
Disposable fashion is a luxury we take for granted. But for each inch of fast fashion garments we buy, someone is paying the price.
Why buy an expensive all-natural cotton T-shirt or an organic silk blouse when you can just get a cheap look-alike?
There are a few ways we can look at this.
First, we tend to value what we have paid more for, or value something that is of higher quality. When you buy all-natural clothing and launder it properly, it will be a staple in your wardrobe for years to come. Some of these items actually grow in value as the years pass, (think of grandmother’s pashmina scarf).
Second, cheap clothes are in our closets for a year or two and then we toss them for the next cheap item. We may spend more over time by tossing out clothing on a regular basis, just to buy the next cheap thing.
And third, our demand for low cost clothing creates a market for it. Major brands push small factory owners in other countries to cut costs year after year, with threats of taking their business elsewhere. These practices create ever-worsening pay rates and working conditions in an effort to keep the desperately needed work.
As long as we keep buying the brands that benefit from modern slavery, they will not see a reason to change.
Fortunately things are changing. An organization called "Behind The Barcode" has been surveying more than 300 worldwide brands since 2013. They are graded on their knowledge of worker conditions and willingness to help.
In the past year, they report they have "found significant improvements in the policies and practices they have in place to mitigate the risks of child and forced labor in their supply chains”, according to the report.
Last year only 14% of the companies surveyed were able to demonstrate their workers were earning above the minimum wage. Now that has climbed to 32%
The majority of companies still fail to pay their workers a living wage.
You can help improve these numbers! You can use Behind The Barcode to find ethically made clothing.
Download your guide here:
Another way is to buy local! Here are some local San Francisco brands which I know for certain manufacture in the U.S.: The Podolls, Erika Tanov, Jesse Brown and Amour Vert.
You can also check out: http://www.thegoodtrade.com/features/fair-trade-clothing
Here is a list compiled by the Huffington Post:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/…/fashion-brands-made-in-amer…
And another from the blog: Fashionista http://fashionista.com/…/made-in-the-usa-our-top-25-favorit…
And, of course, there is us. At Indigo Handloom we provide jobs in India and in the U.S. We ensure that our workers are treated fairly, and with dignity and respect. This is what fairtrade and sustainable fashion are about. Creating natural clothing that brings a better quality of life to those who spend their time weaving and sewing to bring us beautiful clothes.