A common question I get is "why are your pieces so expensive?"
I don't mind one bit because it gives me a chance to talk about the importance of ethical and sustainable production. The attention around sustainable fashion is growing and with good reason, the mass-market fashion industry is not only a large polluter but is also responsible for the climate, equity, and labor consequences of fast fashion.
If you take a single garment like a pair of jeans, there are up to 100 people who come in direct contact with that garment. Weaving the fabric, cutting it into patterns, sewing and assembling the zippers and buttons involves dozens of people. This journey, takes from seed to store is a long one that passes through more than 100 farmworkers, designers and factory workers. And it takes 1800 gallons of water to produce a single pair of jeans! As consumers, we may be miles away from many of these people, but the impact of our purchasing choices is direct and profound. And as I connect with clients about where our clothes come from, my hope is that they see a small part of the production, and the people behind the process. I hope they are inspired to seek out brands, and stores, that respect and support the people who make your clothes.
It’s important for each of us to align our values to our purchasing decisions. When I am selecting designers for Dish I typically start with, “where are your designs made and under what conditions?” Buying from responsibly, and demanding that all brands respect workers in the production chain, is the easiest way we can contribute to a more sustainable apparel industry.
One of my favorite designers, Tracy Reese has done just that. Her new line Hope for Flowers is centered on sustainable and ethical production. Using a completely different business model, she strives for responsible, accessible fashion while keeping a commitment to community. Her art enrichment programs for young and old are an integral part of her business model, as she teaches people about the importance of investing in sustainable fashion.
As Tracy says, "There are a number of simple things we can do to change some of our habits. When it comes to clothing, we can select items that we need, that really bring us joy, that we will keep and wear for a long time. We can be more curious about the brands that we buy from."
The changes needed in the fashion industry are far and wide. And there are many of us who have committed to this change, but the biggest force for good comes from consumers. Where we spend our dollar really does matter. And yes, a garment made responsibly, that compensates the people and communities who help make it, may cost a little more, but it is an investment piece for all the right reasons – an investment in a better world.
As consumers, our power is our voice and our choice.
pS~ here are a few things to keep in mind:
* Invest in quality and well designed pieces ~ quality over quantity
*Find brands that are centered on empowering workers, and sustainable practices
*Support local stores that are value centered and being conscious about the lines they carry
*Shop from your closet
*Wash less and repair