Help start a revolution on April 24 by shopping these ethical brands. Photo: Stephanie Sian Smith
“At a certain point it’s hard not to look at those prices and wonder, ‘How does any clothing company make money?’ But let’s be honest. You know the answer to that.” — John Oliver, Last Week Tonight With John Oliver
Despite increasing demand for transparency in fashion, as consumers struggle to understand where and how their clothing is produced, and what the environmental and human effects of their sartorial choices might be, for many of us, resisting trendy clothing at a low price is really hard. Sure, there are plenty of t-shirts that are “handmade” here in Brooklyn, but where was that cotton grown? Spun into yarn? Turned into fabric? Did the smiling artisan you’re chatting with cut and sew it, or did she just silkscreen a geometric design on it? It’s very difficult to figure out where, exactly, most clothing is made, and what the working conditions and labor practices are like, let alone the reverberations throughout the entire supply chain.
Most days it’s all too easy to just forget about sweatshops and labor laws. But April 24 is a day to remember.
Fashion Revolution Day is a response to the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh on April 24, 2013 that killed 1,134 garment workers. It’s a yearly reminder to ask: Who made my clothes? Just as we’ve embraced farm-to-table eating and organic and local everything, the Fashion Revolution movement wants to bring a new level of transparency to the fashion industry by asking brands to reveal who grew their cotton, spun their threads, dyed their fabric and sewed everything together.
The good news is that there are brands that are already transparent, so you can shop ethically beyond buying second-hand clothing or making your own duds. Everlane has made waves in the industry by providing detailed information on their sourcing and factories, as well as providing information about the cost of every item, indicating how much of the price went toward materials, labor and transportation. In Brooklyn, Marlow Goods produces leather bags (and soon pants and other apparel) from hides that come from the animals that provide meat to the restaurants Marlow & Sons, Diner, Roman’s and Reynard. Karina Dresses are sewn and designed in New York City and in the Hudson Valley, by workers paid a living wage. Brooklyn Industries is working on a “dirt to shirt” supply chain for a line of tees produced from cotton grown, processed and sewn entirely on the East Coast. Here are a few more companies at the forefront of the “slow-fashion” movement, producing better quality, fair trade products, many at surprisingly competitive prices. (more…)
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