When thinking about ethical or socially conscious fashion, many of us think just about the materials used, or perhaps our minds wander for a moment to where the garment or product was made. But we rarely stop and think about the people who make them?
Imagine if labels stated the below minimum wage or unethical working conditions those producing the products we wear are forced to endure. Rather than ‘Made in China’, imagine if the label on your new top read: ‘Made by Bangladeshi girls, aged nine, in unsafe conditions for a few cents per day. Enjoy.’ or ‘An old woman went blind in the dark making this. Happy times.’
Would this make you think twice before purchasing?
Deborah Ross used these exact examples in a piece she wrote for The Independent (http://ind.pn/1IG2eaz). It’s one of our favourite insights into ethical fashion, and perfectly illustrates the impact it could make if we all paid a little more attention to how our clothes and accessories are made.
So what is the practical impact when we choose to buy ethically?
The Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh killed 1130 garment makers in 2013, highlighting the dangers faced by workers in developing nations supporting the global textile industry. Not only were they working in terrible conditions, many were paid below the minimum wage. The minimum wage in Bangladesh is currently US$68 ($92) a month.
According to the recent Australian Fashion Report the production cost of a t-shirt in Bangladesh would increase from about 50c to 80c if workers were paid a living wage.
So next time you make a purchase, stop and think. Check the label and ask a few questions. Where was the product made and did the people making it receive fair conditions? If you can’t answer the questions yourself, find a label that does.
Choosing ethical, or socially conscious brands, can change lives.
Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not happening. Just because it doesn’t affect your life, doesn’t mean you can’t affect change. Be passionate about making a powerful impact. Become a trendsetter and wear your impact.