Finally, someone has gotten to the crux of the problem. In this latest article from the Business of Fashion, they finally admit that the problem is more than simply appealing to peoples’ consciouses. As grand and noble as this sounds, the bottom line is still the bottom line. It’s going to cost more to make clothing that pays a fair wage, that is durable and is well-constructed.
This is a company that is grabbing the bull by the horns and doing something about it. I was so impressed with their outlook on their company (grown, combed, ginned, spun, woven and made all in the USA by well-paid employees), that I purchased a hoodie simply because I wanted to support the company, but also to look at the craftsmanship of the garment – to check it out to see how it was made.
It was made very well, and the hoodie wasn’t cheap – it was $168, but here’s the breakdown on this. You get a hoodie for $27, and you have to replace it at the very least about every 2 months (more if you wash it more often). That’s 6 hoodies/year at $162. You wash the American Giant hoodie over and over and it’s great for 5 years. By that time you would have had to have purchased almost 24 more of the cheap hoodies. Good grief! And this doesn’t count how many times you have to go to the store to get all those 30 some odd hoodies. THAT’S why the more expensive hoodie is actually more of a bargain and a better deal.
But I digress because this article in the Business of Fashion has finally hit on the big point: there hasn’t been any comprehensive response to either the slave labor situation. Finally, it comes down to this:
Ultimately, it comes down to economics: to fix the issue, somebody has to pay for it. And in today’s cut-throat world of fast fashion, that’s a highly challenging proposition.Business of Fashion, December 29, 2019
This is exactly what I’ve been saying all along. That the economics of making a well-made garment made by well-paid employees, all the way through the chain from the farmer, fabric manufacturer, the garment manufacturer to the retailer is expensive and way more expensive than what the consumer is used to. But with good education, this isn’t something insurmountable. For one thing, I’ve stopped buying anything that’s not from the US. In the US, I am sure that the item I’ve purchased is made by properly-paid employees, but also the quality is more likely to be better. Now I don’t purchase many clothes, but I do purchase fabric and other notions, and as much as possible I try to make sure it’s from the US, or from another source that I know is quality-oriented. I can tell as the price usually isn’t cheap.
As I’ve mentioned before the impact on the sewing and making industry is going to be phenomenal. The trickle-down effect for sewists will be in so many areas.
I was thrilled to see this article because this is the bottom line – no pun – I promise. This has been a big issue with getting more durable, well-made clothing. And this sort of realization is in its infancy. I talk about this in detail in my weekly email (You don’t get it – oh you should – sign up here – it’s free and you don’t want it, you can always unsubscribe). But this is the way the fashion industry is moving – they have no choice. The ethical implications are enormous because although tragedies in the past have helped make manufacturers and brokers and reps all more aware, it’s not enough. There has to be a global move toward more ethical production. Otherwise, you will always have one company getting away with skimping on the rules (or more likely the pay) just to undercut another more ethical company. This has to be something like, “You must prove that you pay your employees a living wage or no one will purchase from you and you will be put out of business.” This is the only way this will work.
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