It was so exciting to bring our movement to SXSW for the first time in 2018. Remake’s Founder Ayesha Barenblat took visitors on a swift, global and captivating journey through the hidden supply chain behind our everyday fashion choices.
You can watch our SXSW video to arm yourself with facts the fashion industry does not want you to know, to meet the fierce girl bosses who make our clothes, and to discover practical ways to remake your closet so we can all truly wear our values.
Can’t watch the whole video? Fear not, we’ve summarized some of the key insights for you from the big event:
We pay less, and buy 4x more
With the rise of fast fashion’s high volume, high turnaround business model, consumers have become hooked. Over the last 10 years, we’re buying more than ever before, and paying less than ever before. Yet, the human-driven production process to bring our clothes to life hasn’t changed.
Fast fashion is like Fast Food
Just like we’ve become more aware of why and how fast food is made, we’re now getting woke to similar disturbing facts behind our clothes. The new age of knowing what we put INTO our bodies has a close cousin, what we put ONTO our bodies.
Chemicals Come Cheap
To lower costs, fast fashion uses over 8,000 synthetic chemicals and fibers like polyester that don’t biodegrade. You know that new clothes smell? It’s formaldehyde, woven into our clothes to prevent mildew while it’s shipped to us from countries like China. Formaldehyde is used in construction and to preserve dead bodies before we bury them. Totally gross, and totally wrong.
Our Fashion Needs Feminism
There are over 60 million people who power our clothes, and 80% of those people are women. Many of these women report cases of verbal and physical abuse, and even rape. Considered the docile gender in fashion’s production hubs, these women are restricted to the factory floor while men are their supervisors. So then we’re left to question, where is the #MeToo movement for her, the maker?
Lives at Risk
Disasters on fast fashion’s factory floors range from fires, to equipment explosions, to entire building collapses that have left thousands of workers handicapped or killed. If fashion continues with business as usual, we are poised by 2030 to be at 1.6 million accidents and injuries.
Donating to Landfills
Only 10% of what we donate makes it to second hand markets like Goodwill. That’s because these donation centers simply can’t handle the amount of clothes coming their way. Most of our donated clothes end up sitting in landfills, where, because of synthetic fibers like polyester, take over double a human being’s lifespan to biodegrade.
Reading through the above, you might have turned pale. The darker truths of fast fashion are no fun to think about or dwell on. So lets talk about the new fashion story. The story of love, fierceness and resilience.
Boss Millennial Women Are Making Our Clothes
We already mentioned that there are over 60 million people who power our clothes, and 80% of those people are women–mostly millennial women. She is the same age as most of the purchasers of fast fashion, and she is usually the sole supporter up to 4 or 5 family members in her family. Sounds like a boss, doesn’t she? So who is “she,” the maker? She is Maud, Ming and Rubina.
Maud sews our jean pockets
Maud is 23 years old and from small factory down in Haiti on the border of the Dominican Republic. In Haiti you see human need everywhere. Open sewers, children with no shoes playing in the garbage. And when you cross the river from the well-lit factory to the maker community, you find that it’s dark because there’s no electricity, no water.
But we when met Maud, she didn’t want to talk about any of that. The first thing she did was whip out her smart phone and ask to connect as new friends on Facebook and WhatsApp. We asked her what she wanted to share with the women who are buying the jeans she helps make, and she responded, “I want them to remember my big beautiful smile.”
ming checks our fabric
Ming is a teenager who works in a fabric mill in Guangzhou, China. She works in a small square space, inspecting fabric to make sure there is no defects. At the end of her 12 hour standing-only shift, she goes to her dormitory on the factory grounds. Her arrival at the dorm signals her roommate’s time to go work. The factory never stops.
When we asked Ming how she takes a mental escape, she shared, “When my head hits the pillow, I dream about bungee jumping, and becoming a photographer who travels the world. What I dream of most is finding a boyfriend who really loves me.”
Rubina clips loose threads
When Rubina’s dad fell sick and couldn’t work, she had to become the breadwinner of the entire family. Rubina, 24, found work in a factory, pulling out loose threads from our hoodies and sweatpants before they are shipped to us. She explained that when you first enter the factory gates it’s really scary. You’re getting cat called, you have these supervisors pacing the floors yelling at you to move faster. She grew shy at first, but three years in, she and the other women started banding together because unions didn’t properly represent them, and fight for their rights.
To many people’s surprise, she wants the women who wear her clothes to know her, and not to feel sorry for her. “I’m not a victim,” she said.
we have Power in our vote
Fashion has always been an extension of our identity. Through our clothes we share what we stand for, and recent slogan t-shirts like “The Future Is Female” shows consumer activism is growing to new heights. But looking up the fast fashion versions of these statement t-shirts and you’ll discover they are being sold at fast fashion prices, meaning the cycle is continued and the values we hope to support are, in fact, betrayed.
We can vote differently. For brands who are making amazing women’s fashion, responsibly.
we have a passion for ethical fashion
So the next time you clear out your closet, and look into buying something new and amazing, you can vote differently. For brands who support their makers, and commit to protecting our planet.
We’ve done the heavy lifting for you, sending brands through our rigorous criteria to surface the brands whose business models hinge on human and environmental justice.
You can wear your values, too
Go ahead! take a look through our shop for your next round of fashion fun that’s worth your vote.