Transparency and Why It Matters
We love fashion. But how much do we know about what goes behind the process of making them and the people who make them?
The cataclysmic collapse of the Rana Plaza in 2013, a factory building in Bangladesh which houses five garment factories that manufacture for big global brands brought renewed focus to the manufacturing processes practiced by brands that sell goods for mass consumption. A total of 1,138 people died and another 2,500 were injured, where most of the victims were mainly young women.
Collapse of Rana Plaza in 2013
Unlike weaving, spinning and processing textile- where every step is mechanized, the apparel industry still very much labour intensive, most of it skilled, in steps like cutting and sewing. Because fabrics are filmsy, it must be handled with a high degree of manual dexterity.
If we take time to pause and think about it- how is it possible that our clothes today costs lesser than it used to, when companies’ worldwide faces rising cost in material, labour and energy? The harsh reality is that the majority of people who makes clothes for the global market are subjected to exploitation, lives in poverty and works in unsafe and dirty conditions, with very little pay.
So, why transparency matters?
When it comes to driving sustainability and ethics in fashion, the consumer has all the power.
By showing people where the material comes from, how much they cost, who made the product, where it was made - it provides enough information to the consumer to decide whether they feel comfortable to support and patronize the business.
How we buy clothes today has changed dramatically over the past 20 - 30 years. We buy more clothes than we actually need mainly because of the attractive low price tag or the exceptional ‘discount’ that we think we are getting. Ultimately, we need to break this addiction and shift the way we think about fashion to buy lesser, buy better and understand the impacts our cheap bargains have on the social and environmental issues of today.
At SOURCE, we've decided to disclose the actual cost of each piece of garment we make and the factory where it’s made. Why? Our thinking goes: Transparency is the first step to raising awareness about the issues of the industry and hopefully to have more people get involved to make a positive change. We also believe that when consumers know more about the stories of what goes behind the product, they tend to love and care for it more to have them last longer.
With more consumers encouraging brand transparency, it lends a voice to push the industry to be more transparent to ensure workers are fairly paid and works in safe working conditions.
Transparency alone will not help us achieve the systematic and structural change we would like to see in the fashion industry – but it will help us get there.