Lately, I have been seeing all of these ads popping up on Facebook… “Love This Dress? It’s only $7!” When I see my friends “Liking” this, I want to scream! When you buy a garment at a price that low, you are supporting an unethical industry. If you’re not quite sure how that works, follow me…
I get calls all the time from “designer wanna be’s” who want me to make this or that fashion garment for $10-15, so that they can sell it for $25. After a lengthy, polite and educational conversation about “how things work” in the garment industry, the crux of what I explain is that in order to get things made at that price they’d have to order about 5,000 of them, source and buy rolls of fabric, sent a prototype and pattern I would charge $500 to reverse engineer from their stick figure drawings and pintrest photos, not to mention shipping, along with choosing notions and after they are sewn, shipping to the USA, paying customs, all for a hefty investment of about $50,000. Right about that time they are pretty darn deflated and most likely scrap that bright idea, because I have just peed in their Cheerios and will never hear from them again. Sorry to burst your bubble, but even if I made that dress in an hour at minimum wage you still have to buy the fabric, notions, thread, gasoline to pick it up from me, pay me to make the pattern and so on. Do the math, it costs more than you think.
Here is how it’s really made at that price… Every day, millions of woman and children are forced into labor and denied their fundamental rights to freedom of choice, safety and security. The garment industry is a huge “employer” of women and children forced into labor. With that being said, maybe if you begin to understand WHY “Made In China” or other countries is an important factor to consider.
FAIR WAGE is something we all earn in this country, but we take it for granted that someone else was able to earn the same when making you that $7 dress in a foreign country.
There is a movement going on in this country right now and it is leaning toward making purchases all across the board that are ETHICAL. WHERE it’s made, isn’t necessarily as important as HOW it’s made. AND YES, we WILL PAY MORE, but the goods you will be receiving will be made with INTEGRITY in exchange for a FAIR PRICE. If this upsets you, then maybe you should start working twice as many hours for half as much pay OR NO PAY at all, until you understand the concept of FAIR WAGE.
I think most of you will remember that story a few years ago involving Jaclyn Smith and Kathie Lee Gifford who fell under scrutiny when it was discovered their lines were being made in sweatshops for Kmart and Wal-Mart retailers…
The story was front page news and created an uproar of awareness, but if you think those practices ended there, I’ve got more news for you.
This is more likely the scenario, Watch this video made by Simple Plan for MTV stand on Ethical Fashion Practices for a peak into the world of child labor and the story of how a child’s cry for help got sewn into the hem of a shirt… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1__N77CLoEc
Do you shop for ethical products? I didn’t even know what that was until recently, when I was approached by an Ethical and ECO Designer to pattern and prototype her Eco Lux Collection. Slowly through working with her, I became aware of things that are considered to be the “norm” in the fashion industry. For example, she has been the first designer I have ever worked with that was concerned about the origins, working conditions and sustainability of the fabrics she was choosing for her collection…. Who knew that making silk fabric required the death of the silk worm? I had no idea that was even an option, well, it is an option and there are companies who allow the worm to live! A worm may seem like an insignificant sacrifice to some, but to others it is an animal rights issue and business practice, worthy of consideration. (and I thought drowning one in a bottle of Tequila was cruel!)
To learn more about the death of the silk worm and some Eco Fabric Choices Click Here… http://www.greenlivingonline.com/article/guide-natural-and-eco-friendly-fabrics
Once I become aware of something, especially something that is wrong or unethical, I become “convicted” for lack of a better word. I begin thinking about why it’s wrong, then try to figure out if there is a way to make it right. This is how you make a difference in this world, one person at a time, changing the way YOU think and hopefully changing the way YOU do things because of this new awareness.
Everything happens for a reason and the more things that start coming into my awareness under the same heading, I take as a sign from the Universe, that I should be paying attention. Enter my former employer. Mind you, when I was working for Marc Palmer, it was unrelated to the Fashion Business, it is his day job that funds his passion, which goes by the name of Fashion Hope, a Human Trafficking Awareness and Ethical Fashion Organization that supports setting up Ethical Production Facilities with Ethical Designers.
Me, (yes, I am AD/HD LOL and DUH) Marc Palmer, Founder of Fashion Hope Organization and Frieda Friedman, Designer and Seamstress of Award Winning Competition Dancewear and Costume Fabrication Specialist at Universal Theme Parks
I knew about Marc’s Fashion Hope Organization in general, when we worked together, but since our jobs were not fashion related, we didn’t really talk about it much until I quit my day job working for him and began pursuing my sewing career full time a few years ago. Marc and I met up this last week and when we began discussing his new leather bag line Marko Taylor and the fashion business at my new home studio and Headquarters for Orlando Fashion District, which I am in the process of establishing! I share my home with 3 other Seamstress/Wardrobe/Costuming Ladies who all work with me at Universal Theme Parks.
While my roommate Elisabeth was sitting in, with the intent of using the fashion related meeting to write a post for her blog “Confessions of a Wardrobe Assistant”. The evening ended with Elisabeth accepting the role of Social Media Coordinator for Fashion Hope and planning a trip to NYC to attend Fashion Week to represent Fashion Hope’s Eco Couture and Ethical Designer, David Tupaz! Wow, stay tuned for more on that and go follow her blog @ http://confessionsofawardrobeasst.blogspot.com/ for all the latest on her adventures at Fashion Week and Beyond!
Ironically a few days earlier, Frieda’s client Shirl Clark came by to visit our home studio to discuss some of the issues she was having with the factories producing her line in China. Enter Marc and Fashion Hope, now they are working together to get Shirl on board with sourcing and producing her line through Fashion Hope.
Marc Palmer of Fashion Hope and Shirl Clark, Orlando Fashion Designer of Resort and Yacht Fashions.
Here is one of Shirl’s Best Selling Swimsuits, patterned and prototyped by Frieda Friedman, a genius pattern maker and now business partner in establishing Orlando Fashion District. https://www.facebook.com/fafdesignsfl
Well, now that you’ve become more aware, what are you willing to do about it? Business as usual or change the world?
6 Ways You Can Help Support Ethical Products…
You may be saying to yourself, “I can’t afford to spend more money on the things I buy!” Life is about making choices. Sometimes the hard ones are not easy. If what you have learned here has made you more aware, that will continue. More stories like this will catch your eye.
1. “How many slaves work for you?” Take this quiz and find out… http://slaveryfootprint.org/survey/#where_do_you_live After you take the quiz you can get access to information that will help you make better shopping decisions.
2. COMMIT. If you would like to STOP supporting industries that are unethical, then start by saying this “What would it take for me to stop supporting unethical industries?” When you ask questions, you get answers. (This is a prayer I say daily about many things in my life.)
3. DISCRIMINATE. Next time you are tempted to buy that $7 garment, wonder how it was made and ask yourself, “Do I really NEED this?” Maybe you could SHOP LESS and SPEND MORE by treating yourself less often with something that was made with integrity. Research companies that sell Ethical Goods and BUY THEM! Here is one… http://www.ethicalfashionforum.com/source-directory/directory/4
4. RECYCLE. Shop at clothing resale stores and support recycling! Find one that you can take your gently used clothing to on a regular basis that has equally nice clothing to choose from.
5. HIRE DIRECT. Next time you want a new item of clothing for that special occasion, hire that local seamstress!
6. MAKE IT YOURSELF. Do you have a stockpile of fabrics and patterns for things you’ve intended on making for yourself? Commit to making yourself one item on a regular basis!