First off, kudos for trying to send a positive message if you own an item of clothing promoting female empowerment! I'm with you, actively trying to make a difference in support of women's rights. Unfortunately, the mass majority of these trendy tees like "The Future is Female" and "Feminist" have been mass produced in places that directly exploit third-world garment workers. This is a women's issue- according to the Labor Behind the Label campaign, approximately 80% of garment workers are women.
Fast fashion is a lot of things. It's cute, it's cheap, it's easy to layer... sure. We've all been there- a bad day= spending spree, only you don't have to spend that much to shower yourself in inexpensive clothing gifts that you feel like you deserve. The truth is, we are so far removed from the clothing supply chain, that we forget the other aspects of fast fashion. Cheap clothes are deadly. Fast fashion is women being locked in sweatshops, inhaling toxic chemicals, and non-living wages. This doesn't mean "broke" the way we mean it (I'm so guilty of this. "I can't go to the movie AND out to eat, I'm broke.", it means not having enough money to have food and proper shelter for their families. Beyonce's 1-year old brand "Ivy Park" boasts "We are IVY PARK. A new activewear brand co-founded by Beyoncé, made for women who want to look and feel at the top of their game." Sadly, this brand is actively doing the opposite. The label is produced by way of poverty stricken women, often working 60+ hours/week, making less than $10 per day. In the words of Jakub Sobik, from the charity Anti-Slavery International, "This is a form of sweat shop slavery."
Coming up this month is International Women's Day, March 8. In preparation, I think this information is important to think over. Where do we individually stand on women's rights and empowerment? What does feminism mean to you? If we make decisions with our money, brands listen. In a capitalist economy, I believe a dollar is the only way to deliver your vote. Luckily, we have the opportunity to lessen the demand on these exploitative processes.
Here are some easy steps you can take to do your part:
- Buy from Indigo Apparel. You're already here! We are as transparent as possible, do all of our production in New York, and use eco-friendly textiles & low-impact dyes.
- Purchase from brands who don't produce in an exploitative way. It's that easy! Download the app Good On You to help you choose brands that align with your values: https://goodonyou.eco/app/
- Take it one step further: find brands who support women in the workplace. Women run companies, and brands who are 100% involved and integrated in their garment manufacturing process.
- Buy from companies that are made in the USA, Australia, or other countries with stricter labor laws.
- When it feels like you can't afford a quality-made item, think about how often you will wear it. Often, when we think about the $20 trendy tee vs. a $60 quality top, we forget about the "cost per wear". If you wear something once because it doesn't fit exactly right, or the color is off, it turns out to be much more expensive than a piece you continue to wear time and time again.
- Continue to educate yourself. By doing your research and reading up on the current status of the clothing industry, you are working towards a better future for women- one where we can be confident in saying "The Future Is Female".
by Jackii Ramis