In the glamorous Schmatta (rag) biz this week, the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association won a fight to keep a measly 40,000 low-paying jobs in America by continuing to dump our unwanted clothes onto African countries. The domestic apparel industries in these countries suffer terribly when used American clothing is so much cheaper than new locally-made clothing. So now we’re punishing Rwanda for not taking our trash. Trash we could turn into designer-level fashion fabric, if current textile recycling facilities weren’t so painfully outmoded. They don’t seem to realize circular fashion is what all the cool kids are wearing these days.
Last week I had the honor of joining filmmaker Andrew Morgan, Eileen Fisher’s Shona Quinn and Reformation’s Kathleen Talbot on a panel moderated by eco-fashion diva Taryn Hipwell.
Beyond The Label, a pre-event for next year’s TEDxLA, was a lovely evening, with a great turnout. After the panel we broke into round table discussions on various sustainable fashion topics, which was really interesting.
Here’s the full story on California Apparel News. See Morgan’s film The True Cost, as it does an excellent job of showing the full process, from farm to store. To me the film was old news, but to people who have never considered how their clothes are made, it’s a real eye opener. What’s sad is that it’s still NEW news, with another factory collapse last week, this one in Pakistan. The only thing I didn’t like about the film was how they’d flash to runway shows.
Most clothing in the designer price point is made in countries with excellent labor standards. Or used to be, at least. However, there is a growing trend to use Chinese factories while maintaining designer-level prices. This is fine if those factories and brands are members of the Sustainable Apparel Coalition. But if not, that markup is probably not going to the workers. Judging by the great turnout and the growing numbers of sustainable apparel brands, the industry is willing to change. Now it’s just a matter of convincing our customers to buy responsibly as easily as we’ve always been able to convince them to buy irresponsibly.