I had the pleasure of meeting Michael of Faces Behind the Label recently in LA. His passion for migrant workers and his knowledge of the garment industry mean he’s uniquely positioned to make a big impact. I talk about the great potential that the garment industry has to be an important tool in lifting people out of poverty. This is EXACTLY what I mean.
Faces Behind the Label has developed a “Factory in a box” model, which seems like a great idea. Basically, they build a garment factory inside a shipping container and move it to an area where a few jobs could have a big impact.
In case you didn’t see the comments in the last post, TOMS responds! And then I respond to TOMS and make a super-special offer.
(I out Taylor as a TOM employee in my response. I got his last name from his email address. Here’s the proof.)
April 7th, 2011 | 11:50 am Taylor said:
If you would look at the actual facts of what happens when they are made, not just where, you would see the truth. TOMS uses multiple countries to make their shoes. The fact is, TOMS has factories in the same countries they give their shoes. Like Ethiopa. Here’s a thought, even the same factory with the same workers paid the same amount as SoleRebels. The reasoning for this is so they CAN provide jobs in the…
2013 Update: TOMS has taken many of the questions I and others have posed very seriously and are rethinking their model. They are opening a “responsible and sustainable” shoe factory in Haiti to provide opportunities/job to Haitians. They also plan on manufacturing their “giving shoes” in the countries where they are given.
These are very positive moves in the right direction. Kudos to TOMS. And kudos to all of the brave souls willing to speak out about how the TOMS brand could be used to make a real and lasting impact on our world.
A hundred years ago today 146 people scrambled toward the exits attempting to flee the inferno that had enveloped the Triangle Shirtwaist factory.
The exits were locked. The women were trapped in the factory and they were trapped in a world that didn’t value them beyond their piece count.
The only way “out” was the windows. Women hand-in-hand jumped to their death.
I’ve read about the tragedy in countless books, but none of them paint the tragedy with more humanity than Robert Pinsky in his poem “Shirt.” I appreciate poetry more when it’s read aloud, so give this a listen. The poem begins at 2:49, but his comments before will be of interest to any engaged consumer.
I’ve been asking people where they are wearing for about two years straight now. But George Stephanopoulos asks it and folks start stripping in Grand Central Station. It must be his impish TV-ready good looks.
Anyhow, people don’t know where they are wearing. I had the pleasure of talking with a few fashion/design classes recently and they didn’t even know. If they don’t know, no one does. Except me. Right now I’m watching the Colbert Report about to hop into bed and my underwear were made in Nicaragua. How about you?
When it comes to clothing American consumers should try.
I’m speaking at the Progressive Jewish Alliance tonight in LA. I’ll be sharing some thoughts on how to be an engaged consumer, so I though I’d share them here too.
What we buy impacts our world for better and worse. Things like sweatshops and child labor are symptoms of the immense poverty that exists in our world. I believe the apparel industry should play an important role in lifting families out of poverty, but it has a long way to go.
Here are a few tips and tricks on how to be an engaged consumer.
How to think
Check the tags of your clothing everyday before you put them on. Take a moment and think about the hard work, sacrifice, and skill that went into making…
Nope, this isn’t me talking about myself. Below the cut you’ll find excerpts of a report a girl named Kelsey did on Where Am I Wearing? for her high school Social Studies class.
WAIW has found its way into classrooms in middle schools and graduate-level courses, into book reports and theses, into the hands of students who are studying globalization for the first time and professors who’ve studied it their entire lives.
It’s fun to write something and then have so many people tell you what it meant to them or how they saw it. They bring their own beliefs, world-views, and global perspectives into the discussion. Every reader is indeed my co-author.
AN OFFER YOU CAN’T REFUSE
I owe them all. If I divvied up my advance or royalties, everyone might get enough to buy a really, really cheap cup of coffee. So here’s an offer: If you’ve read Where Am I Wearing? and you are passing through Muncie, Indiana, I’ll totally meet you for cup of coffee and we can talk about the next book we’ll work on together.
Is it possible to get an outfit that you could wear to a job interview at Goodwill for under $30?
I work with a group in Muncie called Teamwork for Quality Living that matches up members of the community who are trying to get out of poverty (captains) with other members of the community (allies). Together we break down the barriers that can keep someone living in poverty. One of those barriers might be: “I can’t afford nice clothes to get a good job.”
Teamwork teamed up with Ball State University’s fashion department to bust that myth.
(Note: this is about the only time you’ll see me wearing a sports coat.)
On Friday the population of the United State doubles. Or at least it seems to in Muncie, Indiana. Starbucks will be crammed with saggy-eyed shoppers selling sleep for a good deal. Target’s parking lot will be bumper-to-bumper, the chaos moving tectonically slow if it moves at all.
Ears will be filled with Christmas music, hearts with joy, credit cards with debt, and fingernails caked with the epithelials of the other shoppers you had to claw out of the way between you and the Chia Obama. Muncie CSI will find them later, but for now you can enjoy shopping.
What would the world be like if when everyone put on their shirt in the morning they checked the tag and took a moment to think about the people who made it and what their life was like? How would it inform our worldview?
I spent the weekend at the a conferencein Olympia, Washington. I’ll do a summary later, but for now I wanted to share this picture of a painting by Janet Essley. The painting is part of a traveling exhibit. To bring it to your community contact Liana at liana(at)sweatfree(dot)org.
Here’s what the artist had to say about the paintings:
“As we remember [the sewer’s] hands on each piece of clothing that we wear, may…