Where do your clothes come from?
“It hurts us to be paid so little. I have to do this and they sell one piece of clothing for more than I get paid in a month […] We cannot eat nutritious food. We don't have a good life, we live in pain for the rest of our life and die in pain.” – Sakamma.
Sakamma is a 42 year old mother of two, who worked for a large factory in India that supplied clothing for one of the worlds biggest high street brands. During her time there, she was physically and verbally abused, subject to terrible working conditions and forced to meet unrealistic targets. She earned the equivalent of 22p an hour. You can read more about her story here:
Have you ever thought about who makes your clothes? Maybe even looked in to it a bit? Chances are if you’re reading this you probably have had at least a hint of curiosity as to where your favourite high street brands get their supply from and chances are what you found was shocking. The reality of the process behind making clothes makes you feel at best, uneasy and at worst, sickened.
In a world where consumerism reigns supreme and supply is constantly chasing ever-changing demand it’s hard to live life without somehow being involved in the exploitation of others. The food that we eat, the cars that we drive, the electronics we enjoy. The clothes that we wear. Most of us would never dream of funding slavery but the reality is the Western World is largely maintained by the exploitation, degradation and suffering of the poor and desperate in other countries where our crushing and pressing demand for more cripples those who work non-stop to provide for us.
The quote above is just one of the thousands of testimonies to the injustices that go on within the factories all around the world that make the clothes we wear.
The truth is – a lot of the brands that claim to ethically source their clothing often do not. According to FairWear.org, an independent company that audit brands to ensure safe and fair practices are in place for workers, no well known, high street brand currently meet any of their standards. To find out more about their criteria and the process of making your clothes, check out their website or watch this short video.
It’s all a bit overwhelming. Sometimes, in the face of such vast injustice it’s easy to do nothing because we simply do not know where to begin. But we can all do something. Big brands don’t always have to call the shots! As consumers, we can change the way the whole industry works. Supply always complies with demand, so maybe it’s time to demand a fairer system.
Here at Just Threads, we are not a big brand. We want to make it easier to purchase real Fair Trade, ethically sustainable clothing. We believe that it is wrong to exploit cotton farmers, factory workers and the environment to produce clothing and pledge to only ever use suppliers who uphold these same values. Our slogan is Righting Wrongs because we believe that we can and with every T Shirt you buy you are sending a message that you believe this too.
Our supplier, Continental Clothing, is one of the only suppliers in the UK listed as ethically sound on FairWear.org. This ensures that every single thing we receive from them is, from start to finish, ethical and fair. Continental themselves offer three different brands, Continental, Earth Positive and Salvage. Right now, we have products sourced from all three. At Just Threads we promise to always be transparent. As well as being passionate about workers rights, we care about the environment and the carbon footprint each of our T Shirts, bags and hoodies leave on the earth. We promise you that we’re still looking for new ways to help the environment with the products that we sell, but for right now we at least can ensure the process behind our products is safe and fair for all involved.
Even something as small as checking your label can increase awareness and help us learn to shop better. This month, as we launch our website and as you all get ready for Christmas, we want to invite you to actively participate in Righting Wrongs. As much as I love tucking people’s clothing labels in, this month we’re going to encourage you to Get Your Label Out! Take a picture of your jumper label, look for the FairTrade or Rainforest Alliance logo (don’t be disheartened or embarrassed if it isn’t there, you’ll probably be surprised by what you learn by doing this) and take to social media, use the hashtag #getyourlabelout, tag us at @JustThreads_ and let’s start spreading awareness about buying fairly.
If you want to do more, check out FairWear.org and make a shopping list, so what you buy for your loved ones this festive season, helps other peoples loved ones have a happier Christmas across the world.
"Nothing can be more important than a decent living wage for workers working day and night to clothe the world."
- Anannya Bhattacharje (international co-ordinator for the Asia Floor Wage Alliance)