The other day, two ladies were browsing our sale rack just outside the store. I was inside and heard them commenting on how cute the clothes were. When they got to the end of the rack, one of them said, “$99 are you F#@$’ing kidding me?” They were looking at an ethically made dress from our partner in Portugal (BTW, it’s on sale at 40% off of $99 in the store). I wanted to run outside and explain to her why our boutique may seem expensive compared to shopping at fast fashion retail stores. They didn’t bother to come into the shop, and I was left realizing what a long way we have to go as a society in understanding and recognizing what fair labor practices are in the garment industry. Afterall, education is a key piece to our vision and trust me, we are still learning too!
When we first started talking about Ginger Threads, I went into my own closet and surveyed what I had inside. It was a mixture of clothing from stores like Zara, H&M, Nordstrom, TJMaxx and a few pieces I splurged on from little boutiques. I looked at the labels on some of my favorite ones - only to find that most were 100% garbage fabric (like polyester) and made in China or Taiwan. You might not think that’s an issue, but after all we learned during our research for Ginger Threads, it made my heart sink. These countries are notorious for high rates of human trafficking, forced labor, and exploitation. Had I been so selfish that I supported substandard labor practices in order to find a good deal or to have more clothing? Yes, I had, but not because I didn’t care about garment workers, but because I didn’t know any better. And honestly who and how my clothes were made really never crossed my mind every time I purchased something. But as I tell my children, ignorance is not an excuse. Go - look in your own closet, what do you find?
Let’s talk about ethically made - as children we learn to treat others how you would like to be treated, yet the entire fashion industry is built around the exact opposite premise. We want cute clothing to wear at the cheapest price possible because it's likely we will only wear it a few times and get rid of it. In order to make that possible, people are working for minimal wages, often in horrific conditions. You have to consider the entire supply chain from picking the cotton, to producing the fabric, to sewing the product, all the way to the sale. Can all of this be done for the price you want to pay?
The sustainable fashion movement is something many of us are just learning more about. We can get behind it without any doubts because we love people and we believe we should be kind to others. We know that many of us didn’t think about who made our clothes when we found that great summer dress for an amazing price. We didn’t think about buying versatile clothes that are made well, so we could mix and match it throughout the entire year. As our closets got bigger, we thought that meant we should never be seen in the same clothing twice.
We can assure you that the sustainable fashion boutiques are marking up the products less than fast fashion boutiques. The prices are higher because it costs more to make the clothing - to pay the people fair wages and to use quality fabrics and sustainable processes. Here’s an example of fast fashion - this plaid blanket scarf wholesales for around $5. We found it in stores/boutiques for anywhere between $19.99 and $29. Do you think for that price it was made ethically?
When we travel the world, we explore the culture, meet new people and no matter where we go, their hearts are just as ours. They want what’s best for their children - to be able to put food on the table, give them clean water to drink, and a shelter to live in. We want that and more for them. Love one another and think before you buy - because you can make a difference in someone's life - whether you are buying clothing or anything else you may need.
So today we challenge you to thoughtfully decide what to put into your closet. If you can support a business that pays fair wages to everyone within the supply chain, why not? Maybe it means instead of buying three dresses, you buy one well-made, ethically produced dress. And yes, it may be $99 effing dollars instead of $39!