Have you ever thought about how your clothes are made? Or about the person that made them? I didn’t for a long time, but now I’m becoming more familiar with how millions of people are treated each day and it has to stop.
“For the past decade, apparel companies have seen rising costs, driven by rising labor, raw material and energy prices. Yet despite the higher cost of making clothes, the price we pay for our clothing is cheaper than ever before. This system isn’t working.”- fashionrevolution.org
Pre 1980, fashion used to consist of four seasons: fall, winter, spring, and summer. Now many brands produce 52 micro-seasons annually. Brands like Zara and Forever 21 have new lines going into their stores 2-7 times a week. With the rapid growth in the fashion industry, ‘the biggest corners fast fashion cuts are human’ (Remake).
75 million people are making our clothes today. 80% of the workforce is made up of women between the ages of 18-24. Some are even 14-year-old kids who enter the industry to work an average of 14 hrs per day in sweatshops to produce cheap clothing. Many of these workers are exploited, physically and verbally abused, work amongst harmful and toxic chemicals (that can lead to death) while enduring sexual harassment on a daily basis (1 in 3 garment workers in Cambodia said they experience sexual harassment in 2016, and similar figures can be found in other countries like Bangladesh). Many women are forced to take birth control and take pregnancy tests regularly so factories can avoid paying maternity leave or any health benefits related to pregnancy.
According to Remake, a majority of these workers earn less than $3 per day, live in extreme poverty and can’t afford their basic needs. 70% of their income is used for food alone. Women are forced to leave their families for years on end to work in these factories so they can have an income. These women see their children once a year.
Women in Sri Lanka work 12 hours a day/6 days a week. The minimum wage is 5x less than a living wage, so many have to take up prostitution in the evenings just to survive. On top of this, if they do not meet their unrealistic quota of production, they are forced to work even more hours to catch up.
Over the past ten years, there have been fires, collapsed buildings, and destruction to the fashion industry. In November of 2012, a Bangladeshi factory used to produce garments burned down and killed 112 workers. After examining the scene, it was clear the building had been locked so that factory workers were unable to leave the job site. This was a dramatic prequel to what was to come in Bangladesh only 5 months later (read more about that here).
Are you starting to understand my frustration behind where we get our clothes? If we buy items without knowing the impact it has on the manufacturers, then we are only contributing to the problem. Unfortunately, there’s no neutral ground here.
The facts you just read display why I wanted Atonement Design to be a hub for ethically produced products that are fashion-forward, trendy & unique. I don’t want to wear clothing because it’s fair-trade, I want to wear it because I love it, because it’s cute and coincides with my unique style. It is HARD to find fashionable pieces we actually want to wear that also fight for people to flourish. So, I decided to take the guessing game out for all of you. I will do all the research, I will hand pick products from various brands that are trusted in the industry, and all you have to do is find something you like.
I hope you enjoy this place as much as I do. I am so glad you are here!