Do you know where your clothes come from? That may sound like an odd question, but take a second to really think about the answer. If you answered a store name I want you to think a little deeper, before the clothes reach the rack how did they come to be?
This is not a post to judge or talk down to anyone, but more to inform. I myself shop at name brand stores, but it is something I work to change as much as possible every year. Part of that whole less is more, quality over quantity-update wardrobe kick I'm on.
Melanie is a Seattle local designer who creates all of her pieces by hand. Yes, people still do that. Melanie, founder of Klad Apparel spends up to eight hours a day creating one piece of clothing by hand. Some items may take a little less or a little more time depending on the design.
A few posts ago I made a comment about Zara being one of my new places to shop. In my mind it was an upgrade from Forever21 quality, but in reality they are all the same. U.K. magazine Daily Mail did a piece on Zara in 2013 after a lawsuit was brought against the company. Employees were found working 12 hour days, and only making between $147 to $272 a month. How does that add up?
Think about the pay rate of the person who made this dress from Zara, and the cost of the dress. Now I want you to think about the cost of the material, time spent creating the pieces with prices listed from Klad Apparel- all of a sudden shopping local seems like a very reasonable option.
Huffington Post did an interview in 2013 with TS Designs about manufacturing and the ins and outs of the clothing business. Based in North Carolina, TS Designs pays their employees $15 an hour- according to the Institute of Global Labor and Human Rights, an average factory worker in Bangladesh makes $0.21 an hour. Let those facts sink in for just a second. This pay rate difference is the reason TS Designs produces less clothes, but is able to keep their brand state side. Ridiculously low pay, child labor, and workers from impoverished countries are being used to create multi-billion dollar companies.
If you think this only happens overseas, you are wrong. Before I started writing this post I did a lot of reading and came across two articles by Huffington Post and Business Insider on Forever21 that changed how I looked at the company and their clothes. Before a lawsuit in 2001 many of Forever21s clothes were being made in LA, where employees complained they were being paid CENTS per item they made. Cents- I couldn't believe it, however after reading countless interviews and lawsuits, I came to the realization that this is a real problem. Little pay, unsafe, and unfair work conditions are a reality for many people who work for many different companies.
So the next time you go shopping, think of where your clothes come from and consider shopping local. I know I will.