Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Dear Fabric, Where do you come from?

For some time now I've been very conscious of where I buy clothing, ensuring I don't buy from retailers who are not known for their support of ethical manufacture.  Now I don't want to name names (you can do your own research!) and my experience / knowledge is limited to Australia... however there are some big retailers who were very vocal on ensuring ethical standards in the wake of the Rana Plaza disaster and others whose silence was deafening. 

I have often wondered about the manufacture of fabric (being the hoarder collector of fabrics that I am!), but am embarrassed to admit that I sort of pushed it out of my mind.  However when Marge Clothing brought to my attention that they only source ethically manufactured fabrics from Europe and the USA all those little questions in my mind came flooding back.

Why is that fabric so cheap?  Also a question we can ask in relation to ready to wear clothing.
Where does that fabric come from? 
Where are the fibres manufactured/grown?

Have I been ignorantly supporting the exploitation of children, inhumane working conditions, sweatshops and environment polluting manufacture through the seemingly innocent act of shopping? 

That does not sit well with me. 

So I took a break from shopping (including buying fabric!).  Moving forward I will only buy fabric that I know to be ethically sourced.  I would rather pay a few dollars more but feel good about the fabric I wear against my skin.  I do have a vast collection of fabric that has been gifted to me and I will not let it go to waste, however I will not purchase anything of unknown origin.   

There are a few films/documentaries out there which cover this topic; including The True Cost.

I know my change in buying habits will not change the world, however it will change how I feel about my place in it.

So please stop and ask yourself "why is that so cheap" next time you're shopping.  If the answer doesn't sit well with you, then you shouldn't buy it.


  1. Yes!

    A great book on the subject is Overdressed by Elizabeth Cline. She talks about the entire process and has some good resources in the appendix.

    1. Thank you! I look forward to reading it. I really appreciate the recommendation. x Allison

  2. Thank you for writing this! Over the past year, my curiosity about fabrics and the "why is that so cheap"? question have been on my mind too. I've certainly been guilty of buying very inexpensive clothing in the past, and I would like to make a commitment to only buying from companies that manufacture in an ethical manner. I know this will take some research on my part.

    Generally speaking, if a company has a section on its website about its commitment to social responsibility, vendor/supplier code of conduct etc., do you take this to mean that they are OK to buy from or do a lot of companies just slap some social responsibility wording on their websites because it sounds good? As an example, I've been reading what J.Crew has to say on the topic on its website because I really like their clothing. I'm not sure if I should do more research apart from reading the statements on J.Crew's website but it seems like I should try to find independent sources that verify their statements/stance and I'm having trouble doing so. Would love to hear your thoughts and strategies on verifying since I'm somewhat new to this.

    Also, I think by changing your buying habits and by using your platform as a blogger/influencer, you are indeed changing the world. You can only control what you do/buy yourself, right? And if you're inspiring people like me and your other readers to analyze our buying habits, then you're changing the world even more. Huzzah!

    I'm going to share your post on Twitter and FB. Yay!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words Beth!

      At this stage, I don't know the answers to your questions. But as we learn/research and share more we will all be better informed. Surely a company wouldn't make claims of being socially responsible if they are not? The backlash from the bad press when they are discovered in a lie just wouldn't be worth it, right?!

      I'm so happy that this issue is important to you to. The more aware we are, the more we can effect change.

      xox Allison

  3. Good point regarding bad PR backlash if the company is simply paying lip service to its policies and commitments but not actually following through with its actions. I found a couple of good articles and websites earlier and will continue to research. :)