Saturday, 27 October 2018

How Much Children's Clothing Is Made By Children?

It is a horrible thought isn't it? Clothes being made by children. Not that it is any worse than adults' clothing being made my children, but it is strange to think that some children's clothing will have, at some point, been made by children who are a similar age to those who wear it - both children living such a different life, but connected by a piece of clothing.
Out of  the 260 million children around the world that are employed, 170 million are child labourers and 6 million of these children are in forced labour. Many of these children work in the fashion industry as they are cheap labour, with small, nimble fingers and in roles that they don't need much training, such as picking cotton. It is easier for children to go undetected in forced labour than adults.

In the industrial revolution, children made clothes in the UK and around the world and it's easy to think that it must have stopped (as it should have) when the textile industry moved to other countries, but child labour just moved with it.

So how much children's clothing is made by children?

It is hard to tell exactly, as factories cover up child labour as much as they can, but by looking at where the clothing is made (for example, China), you can find out if these countries use child or forced labour when they produce the materials (like cotton). If you know a top is made in China and it is made of cotton, as China produces a lot of cotton, it is likely the cotton was grown in China. Using this website, and entering the country and material you can see that China is known to use child labour in cotton production - so there is a chance a child picked the cotton that made the top.

So which brands source from factories that use child labour? A few big brands (selling children's clothing) have been caught out.
 Although brands such as H&M have done well advertising their eco-friendly traits, not long ago they have been found using sweatshops in which children as young as 14 where working 12 hour shifts, in counties such as Myanmar (read more here). Other brands which have supplied their clothes from factories which use child labour include Disney, Gap, Zara, New Look and Forever 21.
If brands advertise their clothes, by modelling them on happy smiling children, implying that the children who wear their clothes should have a comfortable and safe lifestyle, then why shouldn't they have the same ethos for their workers?

During the early 1990’s Uzbekistan abandoned mechanized cotton picking. They had found a cheaper way - forcing millions of the country's children and young people to pick the cotton instead. A high quota of the backbreaking work must be done before they make any money at all, and it's still happening today. 

However, as many of these children need the income from factory work to survive and support their families, as harsh as it sounds, banning all forms of child labour doesn't seem like the answer. Not straight away anyhow. 

Bithi lives in Dhaka in Bangladesh and is one of the thousands of children in her country working in clothing factories. I found her story on World Vision's website. When she was 12, she made pockets for jeans - sixty pockets an hour at the minimum. Now she is expected to help make around 480 pairs of trousers for $1. Her mother doesn't regret getting Bithi a job in the factory as before, they went without food as her Father couldn't work. 
Bithi said her 'heart breaks' when she see's other children in uniform as her dream is to become a doctor, although her future is likely to be an arranged marriage. 

We need to challenge the brands that we shop at, to be more open about the factories that make their clothes and the people that work for them. Brands have the power to drive down the prices of the clothes they buy from factories, as factory owners don't want to lose custom, so therefore they have the power to find out about the treatment and working conditions of workers, and help improve them. Do you know if any of your clothes have been made by children?

                                                        Beccy x 

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Interview with Morgan Wagstaff of Ethical Brand Two Fold

If I had to build a capsule wardrobe from just several pieces of clothing, Two Fold is most certainly a brand that I would go to. Morgan's collections are each made in-house, in small batches in Charlotte, North Carolina from natural fabrics.

I love how you can find out about the inspiration behind each collection below each lookbook on the Two Fold website, which themselves are just so beautifully photographed. Morgan's latest collection is called Flora + Form and was a collaboration with painter and ceramicist Danielle of Flora and Form Studio. The collection for Autumn/Winter 2018 comes out on October the 23rd! I asked Morgan about her inspiration and why she chose to start an ethical and sustainable brand. 

1. What inspired you to create Two Fold?

When I graduated college I had a dream of starting my own brand. I definitely had that dream throughout college, but thought it was a far-fetched, probably not possible dream. But when I graduated I was required to complete an internship. I interned with a very small (at the time) brand and saw that my dream was possible. I saw someone doing exactly what I wanted to do. Seeing this brand in it's very beginning stages gave me an even stronger desire to start my own brand.

After my internship I got a job at the headquarters of a really large retailer here in the south and was exposed to a lot of the ins and the outs of the apparel industry. I had conversations with people who explained the dark sides of this industry. I already knew some of the horrifying truths of this industry when the Rana Plaza collapsed in 2013 (if you haven't seen the True Cost movie, it's a must-see), but being able to talk to people in these countries that are experiencing being paid less and less and, in turn, being forced to pay their workers less and everything that comes with that, it opened my eyes to the fact that these are real people. They are trying to put food on the table for their families, and it pushed me to have nothing to do with a company that runs by exploiting these workers. I also really didn't want to sit idly by and do nothing, so Two Fold was born out of that desire - the desire to help; the desire to give jobs to people in the US and pay them a living wage and to not feel forced to work for a company I don't believe in.

Misako Wrap Top - Flora + Form Collection
2. Who makes the clothes for Two Fold?

From the very beginning stages of Two Fold, I knew I wanted to keep production in house, meaning I wanted to keep patterning, cutting, sewing, packaging, etc. all under one roof. When Two Fold began about a year and a half ago, I was the only one doing all of that. I was the owner, fulfilled every aspect of production, and did everything on the business side, as well as all the social media and marketing content. Now, I am blessed to say that I have hired some help! There are now three of us working to fulfill orders. We have one girl doing the cutting and packaging and one girl helping with sewing, packaging, business duties and public relations (emails, social media etc.)

3.What is your favourite part of the design/development process?

My favourite part of the process is creating a new style. I constantly have ideas swarming around in my mind, so anytime I get to sit down, pattern it out, make a sample and see it come to life, I am so fulfilled.

Kayo Wrap Dress, Krissy Tee, Isamu Wide Leg Pant - Spring/Summer 18 collection

4. I read that you are often inspired by art, architecture and film. Is this often a starting point for your design process?

Each collection comes from many different places. Sometimes I am inspired by nature, some form of artistic expression, certain artists and their lifestyles. I am constantly seeking inspiration, but try not to push it or overthink it because that just yields inauthentic work. I like to see what naturally moves or exhilarates me.

5. What inspired your latest collection? 

Me. The last collection, Spring/Summer 2018, was inspired by a few different things. I felt myself gravitating towards more of a simple lifestyle. I was yearning for easy pieces to compliment my lifestyle, not complicate it. This collection is meant to compliment the easy, carefree spirit that summer brings with it. With simple, easy silhouettes I was drawn to traditional Japanese styles. Traditional Japanese clothing includes wraps, belts, natural linen and cotton fabrics, and simple shapes and silhouettes.

Kayo Wrap Dress - Flora + Form Collection

6. Who would you most like to see wearing an outfit from Two Fold?

The pieces I create are for every day wear. They are meant to be lived in, worked in, and loved. I see a woman, maybe a mother, artist, or business woman, wearing these pieces in every aspect of life - whether it be at home taking care of her children, working in the studio getting dirty and becoming one with her art, or going from the office to dinner with her girlfriends or partner. They are made for every woman in every aspect of life. 

Rai Jumpsuit - Spring/Summer 18 Collection

7. How do you make your clothes sustainable and ethical? 

Two Fold is founded on two main principles: environmental and social consciousness. The clothing industry is the second largest pollutant - second to the oil industry. That fact blows my mind! Because of this, it is so important to me that we use only the highest of quality, certified organic and sustainable fabrics. Fibers such as organic cotton, tencel, and raw silk noil are completely biodegradable and are made from all renewable resources. We also use 100% recycled packaging supplies in our shipping. But we are continually looking for ways to lower our waste and carbon footprint, and to be gentler to our planet. 

As far as the social consciousness, our purpose is to encourage and uplift other women to live their best lives. As women we have the opportunity to bring out the best in our fellow warriors. When someone wears a Two Fold piece, we want her to know that we are cheering her on to be her best self. We are here encouraging her to not only look great, but feel great. All of our pieces are created from start to finish under one roof. This helps oversee quality control, have healthy environments and fair wages for workers, and ensure your piece is created with care and attention to the finest of detail. The people who create, and consume these products are at the core of why we do things the way we do.

We also believe in helping those in need. We are working with a company, called 410 Bridge, that goes into communities in the developing world, assesses their needs, and implements programs to bring them into economic stability. We aren't just throwing funds at these communities and letting them fend for themselves, we are helping them thrive.

Thank you so much for answering my questions Morgan! Look out for Two Fold's A/W 2018 collection, out on the 23rd of October and have a look at her current collections here!

                                                                                  Beccy x

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