Welcome back to True Cost Tuesday where we unpack some of the reasons behind why we at Yobel only provide fair trade, ethical, and sustainable clothing, and accessories. October is Fair Trade Month so we have a couple more volumes to share about the importance of Fair Trade.
Today I’ll talk about the pricing of fashion, specifically Fair Trade compared to fast fashion. At a glance, Fair Trade is expensive in comparison.
Over the years of fast fashion ruling the industry, brands have conditioned us to expecting things for an extremely low price. Now that the expectation is set among consumers, it’s taking more time to change that mindset.
There is so much that goes into a product. From materials to shipping, to labor and rent of a factory, utilities for the factory and product packaging. Purchasing Fair Trade actually pays for everything involved, rather than taking short cuts. Fast fashion companies hide costs and often don’t pay for labor so they can control their narrative and make a bigger profit. Sadly, they get away with it. You will most likely never hear the price breakdown of a product from a fast fashion company. Unfortunately, this simultaneously makes it harder for Fair Trade fashion companies to survive.
Fair Trade companies do their best to be transparent with pricing. One of the brands we carry, ABLE, publishes their company’s wages and have started a campaign with one of their competitors to urge other companies to do the same. Other companies will publish the hours and materials it took to make a product. This is all to help tell the truthful narrative about the real value of an item rather than the perceived value. We also believe that knowledge helps which is why we have become storytellers.
We at Yobel share the stories behind our products. The gorgeous Guatemalan bag straps we carry can take one woman, Manuela, up to 7 days to hand needlepoint and weave and we love to share her story. Another company we work with in Los Angeles is owned and operated by the seamstress, Haley. I messaged with her yesterday about a product delay. She had employee turnover and had to cover for them which took time away from her sewing. She was messaging me while sewing, hoping to get the jackets to me this week.
I spoke with another company owner the other day, Parth, and several men’s shirts we ordered from him were cancelled. They had a flood in the factory that ruined the fabric they sourced responsibly which cannot be remade. Those shirts won’t exist because of this. A fast fashion company would have remade the fabric immediately with even more overtime for workers just to meet the deadline. Fair Trade tells the story of real life. Stories of people like Manuela in Guatemala, Haley in LA and Parth in India, working hard to do things the right way.
I LOVE fashion and I want that new coat or pair of shoes too, but never at the expense of a person. We need to take a second thought when we pick up an item at a store with an extremely low price. Ask yourself, "who made this?" and then decide to make the purchase. Our purchases communicate to companies. The hidden laborers, costs, and untrue narratives from in the fast fashion industry must be challenged.
When people and our planet are priority, we all profit.