My thoughts, research, and one minor new item in my closet.
One thing I personally like to do is participate in a challenge. I challenge myself to eat plant-based and avoid sugar for a period of time (normally a month). I’ve also given up listening to music and social media for spiritual reasons. Giving up certain things and learning to live without them can bring some clarity and helps you to refocus on some things. For three months starting June 2018, I decided to not purchase any new clothing items.
This challenge was started by Fashion for Good, a company that is using their platform to promote good fashion practices. On their website they talk about the 5 Goods: Good Materials, Good Economy, Good Energy, Good Water and Good Lives. For the summer months, they challenge consumers to not pay new clothing items. No new first-hand clothing; use up what you have, borrow, swap, thrift, and refashion.
This challenge was not the hardest to participant in because it’s easy to not buy new clothes. The times I was upset about participating in this challenge was when some of my favorite Fair Trade clothing companies were having a special holiday sale. I did buy one new item from Susi Studio. Susi Studio is a vegan shoe company that makes their shoes from recycled water bottles and their shoes retail for $115-$135. They had a rare sale were a few items were only $24 and let me repeat that.
$135 PAIRS OF SHOES FOR $24!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(These shoes were $135)
It was a no-brainer I had to get these pair of shoes. I only own one other pair and I got them for around $40 because it was a one-day sale for Cyber Monday.
Some reading and research:
During this no new clothes challenge, I promise myself to study more on fast fashion and the impact it has by reading Overdress: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline. In Cline’s book, she travels to the Dominican Republic to check out Alta Gracia, a garment factory owned and operated by an American company called Knights Apparel a producer of college logo clothing sold at universities. I did look up Knight Apparel and to see if they have references to their ethics and the website wasn’t allowing me to go anywhere but the homepage. Cline did say that “Knight supports the factory’s labor union and Worker Rights Consortium” (pg. 140).
- Side note: I look up Workers Rights Consortium (WRC) and discovered it’s an independent labor rights monitoring organization to combat sweatshops and protect workers who work in garment factories and produce others goods. The organization was founded in 2000 when university administrators, students, and international labor rights experts discovered the truth of overseas factory workers. They wanted something better for clothing items that bear any university logo. WRC had 44 universities supports since starting and now they work 190 universities and are still growing! 🙂
Cline asks the production manager, Gemma Castro if huge brands such as Gap, Old Navy, American Eagle, and Calvin Klein would order from Alta Gracia’s. Castro said, “I don’t think so. This is a very different factory” (pg. 141). Castro said that big brands are strict about health and safety codes, local labor, and wage laws but these brands do not pay more than the legal minimum for the country they are in. “And most countries minimum wage is not enough for people to live decently.” (pg. 141). This fact I knew for a while now. I knew big brands were using sweatshops and factories overseas because they want to pay the factory workers the legal but lowest cost possible. Sadly these companies are not held responsible for the conditions of the workers because they are far removed from the factory workers.
Big brand companies do send auditors to monitor the working condition of overseas factories but I personally believe it’s to help the individual company look like they are trying and from more research, I’m not totally wrong. According to Dara O’ Rourke (global supply chain expert at the University of California, Berkeley) said little has improved in monitoring factories overseas within the past 20 years. It’s an auditors job to check the safety of the factories and know the reports of employees being harassed. Due to the pressures of monitoring many factories, auditors are checking off the boxes and ensuring the building is safe but are not fully aware of what is happening to the employees.
As I continue with my second month of this no new clothing challenge, I want to explode on my knowledge on understanding how factory workers are being treated, the harm fast fashion has on the environment, and also do some refashion projects to freshen up my wardrobe. Also, I will be sending some old clothing pieces to ThredUp and be looking into Postmark. Will I try to find some new second-hand goodies from a thrift store? Maybe… for now I will be wearing what I have, give away what I don’t want, and refashion what I want to keep. Here’s to a new month!
Overdress: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline
Fashion For Good: What Is Good? https://fashionforgood.com/who-we-are/what-is-good/
Workers Rights Consortium https://www.workersrights.org/
Fast and Flawed Inspections of Factories Abroad by By Stephanie Clifford and Steven Greenhouse.