Who are the #girlbosses or #fempower fighting for freedom in the fashion industry? Let’s celebrate the makers and fashion professionals who are moving the needle forward!
Elaine Welteroth, TEEN VOGUE
“I say that Teen Vogue has as much right to be at the table talking about politics as every young woman does in America right now.”
“I am 22 years old and wanted to be a doctor. Then my father got sick, so here I am, many years later, still at a factory stitching college sweatpants and hoodies that go to America. I don’t want you to feel sorry for me. I used to be shy and scared in the factory environment. But after all the injustices I’ve seen happen here, I’ve become a labor organizer. I go to management to demand that we are not harassed, paid on time, given proper food to eat. You would not believe the things I have seen.”
“There’s something so special about a woman who dominates in a man’s world. It takes a certain grace, strength, intelligence, fearlessness, and the nerve to never take no for an answer.”
Eileen Fisher, EIleen fisher
“We talk about ‘business as a movement.’ This means we take responsibility for what we’re doing, and we look for all the possible ways we can change ourselves—and change this industry.” Fisher doesn’t see herself and the company “fighting for change.” Rather, she says, “We lead. We do what we do and hopefully that influences others.”
“We will never stop. We will fight.” Somalay So was once a garment worker herself, now she helps other makers learn and fight for their rights with The Solidarity Center.
“I made a choice last year [in 2015] that I would only wear sustainable fashion on the red carpet. The fashion industry is the second biggest pollutant of fresh water on the planet. It has such a huge environmental impact, it has such a big human impact and it’s just not enough for me anymore that it’s a beautiful item or a beautiful piece. I want to know that it’s not leaving a negative mark.”
“I wanted a better life for myself and my family which is why I took this work. I want a better future for my two children. I hope to pay for their college education so that they can work in Cambodia’s government. Government jobs pay well and do not require hard physical labor. I hope that my children can be government leaders and help improve the conditions and rights of future garment factory makers, just like myself.”
“When you’re put in a position to really affect young people who are going to run the world one day, if you’re able to be in their life at a young age and make a positive impact, I think that’s a beautiful thing.”
“At 19 I left my village to experience the excitement of city life. Here I am three years later, still at the same factory…At night I dream of bungee jumping. I want to find someone to fall in love with and travel the world for work, taking pictures and telling stories.”
“In our workshop, when people have opportunities to rise up into management, when they’re getting opportunities to train and learn new things and their not having to make the same product every day, where they get to try new things, where they can move around to different teams, they’re much more satisfied in their jobs, they’re much happier, and they produce better quality work and they stay longer. So, I think there’s a business case for that as well as a human rights case for that.”
“If I could shift the industry, I would definitely get them to be more responsible, to not just think about you know a pretty handbag and a profit line. That would be the way I would like to shift people’s mindsets in the industry, to let them know you can have all of that if you’re just a little more responsible in the way you approach it. That for me is the future of every industry.”
“My income allows my children to go to school, and although this is not how I imagined my life to be, I am proud to be an equal breadwinner with my husband. I am proud that my hard work allows my children to go to school so their futures can be different.”
“In the end, it doesn’t really matter who makes a song and dance about it [sustainable fashion] and how they go about it. What matters is that there’s someone up there with the bang and the buck to change things. And maybe, just maybe, they might… make the world a better place.”