With the global race to the bottom for cheaper and cheaper labor, many fast fashion brands have flocked to Myanmar as a new manufacturing country with one of the lowest minimum wages in the world.
To fight this exploitation, brands like The Fabric Social are creating economic and educational opportunities for the makers of Myanmar. This women-led brand gives Burmese women an opportunity to earn a living wage and gain the skills needed to succeed in life — and it creates beautiful clothes in the process. Each piece in The Fabric Social’s made in Myanmar “Rise” collection is conscious fashion that’s designed to flatter and built to last. Fiona McAlpine, one of the fierce lady co-founders of The Fabric Social, shares why she’s so excited about this line:
“I’m just going to go ahead and say it: there is one major bonus of running a social enterprise as opposed to a straight-up fashion label, and that’s the bragging rights. But as far as we are concerned, the garment makers we work with are our organisation’s raison d’être: the reason we are excited to go to work in the morning.”
The garment makers working in partnership with The Fabric Social are part of a women’s co-op called MBoutik, a project of ActionAid. These women work cooperatively, supporting themselves financially and supporting each other emotionally. The Women Craft Producers Association that MBoutik is part of provides skills training in rattan, jewelry making, weaving and sewing – but also provides education in topics like literacy, numeracy, HIV prevention, hygiene and women’s rights.
“Our brand is made up of real people, of skin and sweat. Of women, of belly laughs, of solidarity.”
Conscious fashion like The Fabric Social’s offers a real way to wear our values. Instead of women being exploited to produce garments for other women, this brand gives garment makers the opportunity to earn a decent living and gain the skills needed to succeed in life.