“I got this on sale for next to nothing!”
It’s a comment I hear often when I compliment a friend on her adorable top or great looking shoes. Twenty years ago, her answer may have impressed me. Back then, it was cool to be thrifty and finding a great deal felt as if you pulled one over on the retailers. Sadly, this bargain race to the bottom is devastating the planet and creating an ugly mess.
Retailers have created this muck (we all know who they are). They’ve trained consumers to shop only when items are drastically reduced or ridiculously low priced. When I had a boutique, some shoppers actually complained to me if a garment cost over fifty bucks and some would even try to strike a bargain. (Honestly, I had a lady ask me if she bought two bras, would I give her one half off!)
Most of us don’t realize our desire for lower costing goods is not only polluting our planet but also hurting our fellow human beings.
When I realized how warped we as shoppers have become, I began my mission to educate consumers and create clothing that doesn’t harm the environment or the people in it.
Time to start asking yourself, “Who made my clothes?”
Let me paint a picture for you:
We’ll start at the stores. You’re holding a delightful tank top made from 100% Cotton with a great little detail on the neckline and a unique stitch along the hem. You’re actually wondering if it’s worth the fifteen dollars (not marked down) on the price tag. (Hint: our MAJAMAS fabric alone costs more than the cost of this tank! That doesn’t include any tags, trims, packaging or labor costs.)
I can break this down for you. The company that makes and sells the $15 tank you’re holding doesn’t care about the human factor involved in making it. They don’t care if the cotton was dyed in a factory that dumps their water along with the dyes, heavy metals and other chemicals into a town’s drinking water. They don’t care if the person sewing the garment makes next to nothing per day and they don’t care if an entire town has lost it’s identity because a big clothing company moved in, hiring half the people living there, promising big payouts and steady work just to destroy their cultures and traditions.
You think I’m being overly dramatic, right?
You think there are regulations worldwide protecting the people who make your clothes from being abused and taken advantage of. You think there are environmental regulations in place protecting their drinking water, animals and farms. You think the people making your tank top work eight hours a day, getting hour lunches and basic bathroom breaks but this, my friend, is far from the truth.
In reality, if a garment sells for that little, there is NO WAY the company making it cares about your planet or the people making it. We must all wake up and care as much as I do about changing how we view the cost of clothing, shoes and all goods related to fashion and home decor in the retail market place.
That’s why Fashion Group International (FGI) is hosting a seminar one week from today called Ethically Made: The Human Element Behind Our Clothes.
FGI has pulled together a group of us in the fashion biz who actually care about how clothing is made to speak about the importance of uncovering the perils of the fashion industry. We’ll be discussing why “Ethical” Fashion is so important and why we must educate consumers on how to ensure the clothes we wear come from companies who care about the planet and the people making them.
I invite you to join us at Mata Traders, 5112 N. Ravenswood from 6:30-8:30 June 28th to learn how you can help. Click here for tickets and more information.
I realize this is far from sexy fashion talk. There won’t be a fashion show, champagne or celebrities. Just a group of designers focused on changing an industry that is the second highest polluter behind oil.
Can’t make the forum? Then start doing your homework! Fashion Revolution is doing a great job educating the world and starting a conversation about where our clothing comes from and how it’s made. Read and share these links to learn about it:
Vogue UK | How the World Has Changed Since Rana Plaza
The Guardian | A Sustainable Model for Fashion
The Guardian | Why Sustainable Supply Chains Make Business Sense
Business of Fashion | Preventing Another Rana Plaza
Business of Fashion | Stripped Bare: Brands Move Towards Transparency and Traceability
Educate your daughter begging for the shorts she found for $10 bucks at one of those fast fashion stores. Educate your neighbor who’s so proud of her “great deal” (yeah, you may bring the mood down a notch but she needs to know the true cost of her purchase.)
Most importantly, review often and THINK, THINK, THINK, before you have that minimum wage employee ring up your tank or ship your online order. Force yourself to THINK about the true cost of that cheap tank and perhaps then you’ll realize, it’s very, very expensive!
– Germaine Caprio, Company Owner & Designer