I consciously made a decision to avoid using the term ‘handmade’ to describe the Under_Label, even though that’s exactly what I do; I personally hand make and craft each pair of briefs and bespoke bras to order.
Items described as handmade often go for a higher price due to the time, energy and craft that goes into every piece, which they should, but I feel like consumers are slightly blind sighted as to the amount of skill and craft that goes into a high street piece, regardless of how little you pay for an item.
In fact, clothing and other products (such as jewellery, shoes and bags) made in factories across the world are made by multiple human hands, but are given less value than those made by one. Factory production works on high volume orders, cutting stacks of fabric at once, with a production line of workers focusing on one specific job making production quicker. They work long hours for little pay and have little respect considering the pivotal part they play in the process.
Workers are kept in these roles regardless of poor treatment due to poverty and fear of losing their wage, whilst factories can struggle to give better wages due to fear large contracts being taken elsewhere due to cheaper pricing. Though some companies are taking measures to improve the lives of their workers, it’s still not taking it far enough in my opinion.
Are we not dehumanizing the skilled workers in countries like Bangladesh, by not giving a fair wage and acknowledgement for the pivotal role they play within the industry? Skilled, labour intensive jobs are seen as the bottom of the pile when in fact they provide a necessary, underrepresented and demanded role in the industry.
If we are willing to pay a premium on items ‘handmade’ in western countries, such as the United Kingdom, why are we unable to stretch to paying a reasonable price for every other worker? If skilled workers received fair wages product prices would be raised, meaning people would be able to buy less and would be more particular about what they bought. This although shocking to most could be seen as a good move as less clothing produced = less waste? If we took these small steps towards a fairer industry, it could have the potential to create a more sustainable industry with less waste and better lives for those working within Fashion at all levels.
Because after all, all clothes are made by the hands of someone.
Disclaimer: I’m not a writer so please bear with me as I come to terms with blogging…Although I’m planning to do some hard research and ‘proper’ writing (akin to a miniature essay with references and everything!) at some point, this is a think piece written from my experience and thoughts on the industry.
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