Who are you?
We are 3 friends who until the Rana Plaza disaster paid, at best, lip-service to trying to be ethical in their choice of clothes. We knew that sweatshops existed but preferred to remain largely ignorant. We decided this needed to change; we needed to align our buying choices with our values. This blog is an effort to share some of what we learn.
Isn’t it a good thing that because we buy clothes in the west, we create jobs for those in the developing world?
Yes and no. The clothing industry is extraordinarily complex. The more we understand the more we realise how much more we have to learn. And yet we remain more certain than ever that from a moral perspective it is straight forward; it is wrong that people are enslaved in producing clothes for us.
In a globalised world there are enormous opportunities for trade, and with that the creation of jobs and possibilities for the marginalised and disadvantaged. However, because of their poverty, and therefore lack of opportunity, those employed in even the worst factories rarely have a choice. They cannot quit no matter how many hours and how little money they are paid. We do have a choice. We can choose to buy our clothes from companies who treat their staff fairly.
Why don’t you focus your efforts on buying from local sources or recycling clothes?
There are of course multiple considerations when making ethical purchasing choices, including concern for people and the environment. All these considerations are important and there are amazing people doing extraordinary things in the world of ethical trade who are highlighting the issues and providing alternatives.
We live in a global village and are therefore connected to people we have never met; for example 98% of clothes in the US are outsourced to the developing world. We see buying clothes from people in the developing world who have been treated fairly as a great opportunity to play our part in overcoming extreme poverty.
We have a passion to focus on people, whilst also recognising the importance of environmental issues (and indeed the impact of the environment on people). We hope that one day the clothing industry will be so drastically different that exploitation will cease to exist. Companies that seek to fairly produce in the developing world provide a viable alternative to those companies that exploit others in the developing world and we have therefore chosen to buy our clothes from them.
Why the name ‘Who Made My Wardrobe’?
It is easy to ignore the rights of the individual who made our clothes because we don’t know them. We don’t know their names, where they live, about their daily struggles, or what they dream of. By knowing even the smallest detail about them our mind-set can begin to change, and they move from being an invisible cog in the machine to a human being that deserves respect, dignity, and fair treatment.
Where did you buy your clothes from and would you recommend those companies?
We will be posting a couple of times a week our experience of the brands we are purchasing from. We take our hats off to all the companies we have purchased from, and all those we have yet to buy from, who work hard to provide a viable alternative for people who want to make ethical purchasing choices.
What about the farmers who supply the workers with raw materials such as cotton?
The complex nature of the industry means numerous people are involved in the process of bringing our clothes from the fields to our wardrobe. We desire transparency so that we can make informed choices about the treatment of everyone in the supply chain.