True Cost Tuesday, Vol. 2

True Cost Tuesday, Vol. 2

Hi there and welcome back to True Cost Tuesdays where we will unpack some of the reasons behind why we at Yobel only provide fair-trade, ethical, and sustainable clothing and accessories. Last week for our first True Cost Tuesday, I (Emily) gave a bit of background into how we (Clay and I) got involved with ethical fashion. You can read that here. For this week’s True Cost Tuesday, we’ll start talking about what’s called “Fast Fashion”.

When I learned that the majority of our clothes and fashion accessories come from sweatshops full of slave and underpaid laborers, I was baffled and heartbroken. I couldn’t imagine why sweatshops exist! Why are sweatshops even an option? The answer has always been money. My teenage self, desiring a career in fashion thought, “I will become rich and famous so I can buy sweatshops, remodel them, have safety protocols and pay good wages!” I was a lot naive but feeling hopeful.

Business exists to make a profit; we get that. We want Yobel to make a profit too! But companies quickly figured out that labor costs in developed countries are significantly higher than in underdeveloped countries. In many cases the governments in underdeveloped countries don’t monitor wages and often don’t have infrastructure for benefits or safety standards for their workers. This was, and is, a major opportunity for companies to reduce costs and maximize profits in manufacturing. This means the majority of sweatshops are in underdeveloped countries where millions of people are being exploited.

Poverty is the core of exploitation. Those in poverty are more vulnerable and desperately need work. Hard work for long hours and little pay is better than nothing. Companies who utilize sweatshops (and knowingly) are putting their profit over the lives and dignity of people. When we purchase an item from a company using sweatshops, we are inadvertently communicating to that company that we agree with their manufacturing methods.

Over the years I’ve been very conflicted knowing sweatshops are more normal, and I still can’t wrap my mind or heart around it. In comes the world of Fast Fashion. Fast Fashion started in the early 1990’s by the extreme increased demand for trendy clothing and fashion accessories at affordable prices. Fast Fashion is produced quickly, with low quality materials, and is actually made to be thrown away. Fast Fashion has only increased sweatshops and once companies saw their profit margins, it seems there’s almost no going back.

About 14 years ago, I was no longer the naive teenager with only the feeling of hope, I actually experienced hope for fashion when a friend of mine introduced me to the company TOMS. I thought, “This is what I’m talking about! Fashion can make a profit and do good at the same time!” I became obsessed and wanted to find companies doing more than only making a profit. Yobel is also one of those companies I discovered around the same time, and I was so excited that there were options to offset Fast Fashion.

As consumers, we have a choice in what we consume. Every purchase we make, as I mentioned earlier, communicates to companies and to the economy what we are OK with. Supply and demand is an age old cycle and when we purchase goods we are contributing to that cycle. Consumers have the power to change the entire world! We did when Fast Fashion started, so we can also make it stop. We can choose to do a little more research about where products come from before we make the purchase. The shift in how we consume will create a new type of supply and demand. When companies see that consumers are purchasing more from fair-trade companies, they will have to change their manufacturing methods if they want to stay in the game. We make this happen. Will you continue to be part of this with us? I believe with all my heart we can accomplish it!