Disclaimer: The making of “Made in Sri Lanka” included visits to a variety of factories, both sustainable and unsustainable. Maker voices in this film represent a variety of perspectives from factories, boarding houses and home visits. Particular women featured in our film short are not necessarily employed by factories featured in the film. Our mission with this film is to humanize the women who make our clothes. Film work by Matt Barkin of Vibrant Films.
Stepping inside a mass production factory is overwhelming – the constant sound of sewing machines, the row upon row of mostly women moving rapidly without an upward glance. The tension to meet the day’s quota palpable. Visit a maker at her home and you’ll find she lives in a small, crowded space. She repeats her home-to-work routine normally 6 days a week to make ends meet.
She does not see herself as a victim, but because she is strong and resilient, the backbone of her family’s future.
Since 2016, Remake has taken 8 learning journeys into garment maker communities to give us human faces behind our labels – from “Made in China,” “Made In India” to “Made in Pakistan“. In our 7th journey, we took aspiring fashion designers into Cambodia where they listened and learned. This time we took next gen fashion designers from Parsons School of Design and California College of the Arts to Sri Lanka.
Our Top 3 Takeaways From Made In Sri Lanka
- The math does not add up: On the factory floor alone we counted 40 people working on a t-shirt that was priced at £8 (or $10.45)! The only way to get us clothes this cheap is to disempower women working on the factory floor.
- The system reeks of colonialism: Even the most powerful vendor groups and factory managers told us that buying brands are king. Western brands set prices and delivery schedules, setting a system where makers work long hours for untenable wages. As shoppers, we support this system when we buy fast fashion: clothes that come to us too fast at low prices.
- Pass the mic back to makers: The garment industry of Sri Lanka employs an estimated 350,000 workers. 82% of these people are women and most make less than a living wage. We hope hearing directly from these girl bosses will change hearts and minds and move us all to buy better.
So what can we do to create tangible change and improve the lives of our sisters across the world? We can stay woke and inspire others with the best part of fashion: stylish sustainable finds that support women and protect our planet.
We’ve premiered Made In Sri Lanka across fashion schools with panel discussions, uniting fashionistas on our shared passion to create a more equitable system behind our favorite threads. Here are the highlights:
“If we really are talking about communicating who we are through fashion as a feature of social identity we need to take ownership. The decorative elements of fashion are driving overconsumption. Instead of buying a cheap false identity, make it authentic and truly personal. Make the mending process fun, invest in your garments — making them last longer.” – Paul Dillinger, VP of Global Product Innovation at Levi Strauss and Company
“Fashion for Good first got connected to Remake when we started curating this experience–we were really inspired by how Remake tells the story of the people who make our clothes in a real and dignified way. As we honor the fifth year anniversary of Rana Plaza, we are excited to hear voices from Sri Lanka.” – Katrin Ley, Managing Director of FFG
“When you have social dialogue with workers, then you have a greater understanding of what living wages actually mean. You start understanding what it truly costs to give workers access to health, education, shelter, cost of living.” – Safia Minney, Founder and Director of People Tree
New York City
“When I was in Sri Lanka with Remake I was struck by the ordinariness of the women I met. All they wanted was to support their families, their parents, their children–all the things that matter to me. The smallest change [in the design process] can make the biggest impact there, not just for those women but the multiple people they support. We need to arm ourselves with knowledge with what is behind our industry, real people with real lives.” – Yvonne Watson, Associate Professor of Fashion at Parsons School of Design
“Remake encourages us to ‘wear your values’ and at Galerie.LA we’re all about ‘shopping your values’. I was a celebrity stylist for many years, and then became a conscious consumer. I couldn’t find the brands I wanted to wear and support that also supported my values. You can value these things and wear them. So it’s not about chasing after the latest trends…but establishing a strong personal style that’s independent of those winds.” – Dechel McKillian, Founder of Galerie.LA