Once we’d exhausted the fun bits and had to get to the nitty gritty, we sat down to discuss the finer points of the business. After focusing on the impact of fast fashion within the fashion industry in my final year of University there was no question of this being at the forefront of our business model. If you are only just learning about the overwhelming effect the fashion industry is having on our environment a great resource to watch is the ‘True Cost’ film which is available on Netflix. Once you become informed about the detrimental effects of clothing production it is hard to imagine sourcing in any way other than sustainably.
Working on the first sample of our Marilyn Kimono Jacket
Fashion industry supply chains are long and complicated, thanks, in part to Neoliberalism and the result of globalisation. Fabrics and garments can be shipped halfway around the world and back again before they finally make their way to our wardrobe. The USP for fast fashion is the time for production and the speed at which it can make it to the retail stores. This generates an insatiable appetite in the consumer for constant new trends. This has historically, and by historically I mean over the last 20yrs or so, meant that major high street retailers do not have established working relationships with their suppliers. They will merely place their order with the supplier that can produce the product quickest. As the supplier often works as the middleman between the factory and the retailer they can then place the retailer’s order in any of the factories they have access to, this means essentially that retailers often don’t actually know where their product is being made. The supplier might tell the retailer it’s a certain factory but they might also be outsourcing to a totally different factory with lower standards in order to complete the order on time and gain a higher profit margin. You’d be amazed at how many companies are selling a product with their brand name on and they don’t have any idea where the product is actually being made. As I’m sure you can imagine this type of manufacturing encourages allsorts of bad working practices. It can mean excessive working hours for the garment workers and also encourages the employment of temporary workers with no formal contracts or set pay as they work to tight deadlines.
After much deliberation we decided to source from India. India is without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most fascinating countries in the world. It’s abundance of colour is a catalyst for creativity, even a simple stroll down the street throws inspiration in your face. Aside from the fact it is the second largest producer of cotton in the world, it is also historically known for it’s expertise in natural dyes. Yes, the rumours are true, you can make fabric dye from flowers, avocado skins, spices, you name it. Yet we’ve spent the last few decades dying everything with carcinogenic petrochemicals. It’s actually baffling when you stop and think about it.
After extensive research of India we decided to source from Jaipur, the home of block printing. We’ve all done block printing, remember the potatoes you carved as a child and made patterns with paint. Well there is slightly more than that to the traditional Indian artisan craft, but in Layman’s terms that does sum it up. The great thing about sourcing from India is that it is a hub for textile production. We were able to contact several garment factories in India through the Ethical Fashion Forum ultimately we had our heart set on sourcing from Mehera Shaw. Like most of the factories on EFF, Mehera Shaw are registered with the Fairwear Foundation and their fabric is GOTS certified. GOTS stands for Global Organic Textile Standard which basically means their cotton meets the industry standard organic certification.
If you are considering starting your own Ethical Fashion business the Ethical Fashion Forum is a great place to start. They are a London based not-for-profit which aim to support and promote sustainable practices in the fashion industry. They are essentially a one-stop-shop for support and their database has contacts from every corner of the globe and of course you can always get in touch with me over at Enchanted Rebels and I’ll happily answer any questions you have in exchange for nothing other than gratitude (unless you can offer me guestlist to something fun and/or a lifetime supply of Prosecco).