If you follow this blog you probably know for the past 6 months we have been trying to shop ethically... (side note: "ethically" has become such a trendy word, how we like to define it is that the company or brand knows where their clothes are being manufactured and can guarantee that their manufacturing facilities are practicing safe and fair labor laws).
Over the weekend we went walking through the mall and we weren't really seeing anything from the brands we are familiar with and know we can shop. Walking through the mall when you are an ethical shopper is like one of those horses pulling a carriage, the kind with the blinders on the side of their eyes, but minus the pulling a carriage part. You don't want to spend a bunch of time looking at things you simply couldn't buy if you wanted to. Well, I had a weak moment and I peeked around my blinders. I saw this shirt from a brand that I know isn't strict about their supply chain. I was just setting myself up for failure because then I continued to try it on :) OOPS! It was so perfect and I would've worn it everyday. I really wanted to buy it. Drew just looked at me like why are you doing this to yourself? Luckily, he was there because if I was alone I'd most likely be sporting that shirt right now, and boy would I look good in it, just kidding, we would've talked about it when I got home and I would have returned it.
So the point is, I didn't get the shirt and I walked away super bummed about it and not excited about what we have chosen to do this year. I walked away so annoyed that I can't even buy a shirt that I really like not because we don't have the money (you better believe I've been saving up!!) but because the people who make it don't value their workers. It may sound dramatic to you, I couldn't get a shirt, whats the big deal? Let me tell you what the big deal is.. It's that many women in the world don't have the opportunity to be mad about buying or not buying a shirt because they are forced into labor and have no fair options or the choice to leave. The other part of the big deal is that huge corporations don't care enough about the lives of these women to guarantee them safe and fair labor, instead they take advantage of them and turn a blind eye. If I wasn't having enough of a cow the thing that tops it off is that WE EAT IT UP. We love it. We brag about the cheap deals we get without considering at whose expense we are getting a deal.
Something has to change in the fashion industry. I think choosing whether or not you buy something depending on the company's labor practices will make a difference. I'd like to believe that if we start shopping places like Everlane or PeopleTree, instead of places that can't and won't give information about their manufacturing practices, it will make companies change their ways of treating employees. I don't know, am I crazy for thinking this? That we could single handedly take down the man? Ha, I'M KIDDING. But I know money talks. And I think when we (ME TOO, I'm so guilty of it) throw our money at brands who don't care about labor practices we essentially say fair labor isn't important to us.
We pick the things that the media cares to talk about it. When we turn our attention to the Kardashians and Fantasy Football that is what they are going to cover. We as the public pick the things that are popular or cool. When we start saying things aren't cool and we want change, businesses have to listen or they won't last. We as the public have to engage and search and care about things that matter. That is when we will have a large affect.
I guess what I learned isn't to not go in the mall. What I'm learning is that we all have a voice. And how we spend or don't spend our money is a way to use that voice, I think its one of the most effective ways. We must remember that until all of us are free, not one of us is free.