Up until a year ago, I never really cared but I always took pride and smiled when I saw the sticker “Made in the USA.” Truth be told, I shop predominantly online and usually look for comfort, decent quality (because I still somehow manage to shrink clothes), and preferably anything on sale. In short, trendy and cheap. I mean, don’t we all?
It wasn’t until my little sister started her own company milo+nicki that I was exposed to the lasting effects that the fashion industry has on our economy, health and ultimately our planet. It was eye-opening and to tell you the truth, a bit depressing.
On April 24, 2013, a factory collapse in Bangladesh shed light on the terrible safety standards and practices existing in the fashion industry. This factory, employed thousands of people, collapsed killing over a thousand and injuring over 2,500. The collapse was attributed to poor structure and strict management; employees were locked inside to ensure productivity and minimize breaks. As the deadliest disaster in the history of the garment industry, the publicity, concerns and wide-spread blame lead to the birth of the Fashion Revolution. It was created to help educate and spread awareness of the reality behind the fashion industry.
The highly-competitive fashion industry gears new designers to seek the cheapest, a.k.a. the most cost-effective method, to create new pieces. What consumers are not told are simple facts such as where the fabric is coming from and the final production costs, factors which ultimately determine wages and other work standards. Consumers are also not told about the treatment of the factory workers. Unfortunately, their treatment is directly relative to the competition and the demand; prompting brands to bargain on pricing, fabric and labor.
“Fast fashion” is where quick trends go from the runway to your closet. Consumers want to wear the latest trend at a “knock-off” price, leaving brands to compete for the cheapest price (and maximum profit) possible. This leads brands to international factories and labor forces, which come at much cheaper costs and many do not have the same labor protections developed nations do. Foreign factory owners are left deciding between paying their employees proper wages in safe working environments or losing the business to another factory.
As we demand more, they’ll produce more…it’s a continuous vicious cycle…one that only we as consumers can stop. Educating ourselves with where our clothes come from, what processes each entails all the way to how each piece or even brand ultimately effects our environment is vital in making positive and healthy changes in this industry. We need to make sure we use our dollar to cast a vote to support companies that prioritize the safety and security of their employees. Each purchase can make a difference. Easier said than done, I know because every time I get a coupon or sale alert via email I have to physically restrain myself from taking advantage. We are all bogged down with responsibilities, bills and can sometimes barely make ends meet…but at the end, we get to choose. The more I learn about the unethical standards and practices in profit-sharing, it kills me to know that I have been blindly feeding the garment industry.
I, like most, find styles from magazines, websites and mannequins. It is quick, efficient and you never have to step foot in a store. However, that all changed about a year ago. While facing unusual health obstacles for a prolonged period of time, juggling multiple jobs, and trying to find her passion, Nicki was forced to prioritize. She chose health, family and happiness. Nicki focused on pursuing her passion, something close to her heart, and created a new line. milo+nicki is an ethical, cruelty-free womenswear line that empowers women to conquer their fears and pursue what sets their soul on fire. Her passion is not only to raise awareness of the sub-standards in the fashion industry, but to create ethically made pieces that give women the confidence and inspiration to help them achieve anything their heart desires. Not only as a proud sister, but an eco-conscious consumer, I continue to learn and am forced to be more aware in the purchases I make.
Ask questions, know who made your clothing, how it was made, and where it was made. When you educate yourself, you feel more empowered to wear the pieces and share their stories. I dare you to look at your label…do you know who made your clothes and at what price?