When you read “Made in the USA” you may think of high-quality garments produced under fair working conditions and living wages. In reality, however, American garment workers experience the second-highest rate of wage theft of all US workers and often don’t even get paid a minimum wage. These are just symptoms of a demise that affects the American garment sector.



In what is presumably an attempt to bridge the gap between cheap offshore wages and expensive domestic labor, American factories started exploiting US garment workers systematically. The epitome of exploitation shows in the so-called “piece-rate pay scale.” This pay system established that workers get paid per finished garment rather than receiving a set hourly wage. This inherently harmful practice not only forces workers to produce clothes at inhumane and unsafe speeds to even achieve something close to minimum wage, but it also promotes an ethos of quantity over quality, resulting in the mass  production of low-quality garments.

[T]his legislation is a beacon of hope for nearly 100,000 American garment workers who have long been the backbone of the nation’s economy

The FABRIC Act, if enacted, promises to mend this frayed fabric since it was first introduced in May 2022. Spearheaded by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in the Senate and Representative Carolyn Maloney in the House of Representatives, this legislation is a beacon of hope for nearly 100,000 American garment workers who have long been the backbone of the nation’s economy. At its core, the FABRIC Act aims to be a robust solution for these workers, introducing a new era of fair wage protections, equitable treatment, and improved working conditions.

fabric act brands
Remake at the NYC FABRIC Press Conference, May 2022

However, the impact of the FABRIC Act extends beyond the factory walls. It seeks to address a broader issue: the decline of the US apparel manufacturing sector, which has been eroded by decades of offshoring pressure and a lack of investment. That is to say, the FABRIC Act is not merely about reform; it is about revitalization. By incentivizing domestic garment production with a $40 million grant program, it hopes to breathe new life into an industry that has seen its vitality face and reintroduce transparency with a federal garment factory registry. If passed, this legislation could be a game-changer, setting a precedent for responsible apparel manufacturing, not just in the US but across the globe.

fabric act brands
Remake in DC for Advocacy Day, Sept. 2023

In a world where fashion trends can change in the blink of an eye, the FABRIC Act ultimately stands as a testament to the enduring values of justice and compassion. It’s a call to action, a plea to put the rights and well-being of garment workers front and center. It marks an opportunity to weave a new narrative—a story of empowerment, dignity, and lasting change in the fashion industry. There are a myriad of ethical and sustainable fashion brands supporting the FABRIC Act and leading the way to a brighter and more just future for American fashion.

Mara Hoffman

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Mara Hoffman 🐪 (@marahoffman)

Founded in 2000, Mara Hoffman’s namesake label was created shortly after the designer graduated from Parsons School of Design. Fifteen years into the brand’s journey, Hoffman made the conscious decision to center the company’s primary strategies around responsible production, intentional material selection, and advocacy. The company’s definition of sustainability – “a framework; a set of guiding principles to better every part of our company through the lens of climate and social justice” – has thus guided its business decisions ever since.

Mara Hoffman produces in 26 factories across North and South America, Asia and Europe, with a large portion of the company’s Ready to Wear collections made in the garment district of New York City, and all of its swimwear in Los Angeles. When deciding which cut-and-sew suppliers to work with, the company considers proximity to raw materials producers and prioritizes those that are Fairtrade Certified™ or that support and advance local artisans, for example. To help ensure compliance with the company’s manufacturing guidelines, the Mara Hoffman team conducts regular, in-person factory visits in efforts to engage closely with its Tier 1 manufacturers.

The company prioritizes the use of natural fibers such as organic, recycled, and regenerative cotton, and linen, hemp, and cruelty-free wool. It has invested significantly in sourcing materials from farms that practice regenerative agriculture, and that work to restore soil health and local ecosystems and maximize carbon sequestration. Likewise, the Man Made Cellulose Fibers that Mara Hoffman uses are certified to “ensure that the wood pulp used to create the fibers comes from sustainably managed sources and never endangered or ancient forests.” The company does not use fur or feathers in its collections, and is committed to the highest standards of animal welfare. Where Mara Hoffman does use fossil-fuel derived synthetics, it primarily incorporates certified recycled materials made from pre-consumer and post-consumer waste. Its ultimate goal, however, is to phase out of nylon and polyester completely and so the company is “continually exploring more sustainable alternatives to synthetic materials that offer the same quality and performance.”

Nisolo

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Nisolo (@nisoloshoes)

The label for leather goods and footwear Nisolo offers timeless accessories such as hand-woven sandals, slides, clogs, and more – all made in Peru with Leather Working Group certified leather and in certified tanneries. Especially with leather having one of the most polluting and opaque supply chains for any fabric in fashion, we appreciate Nisolo’s transparency in the areas of supply chain traceability, wages, labor conditions, and environmental impact, among others. The brand also offset emissions from every produced item by endorsing forest conservation in the Peruvian Amazon, the areas of its factories.

 

Nisolo’s high level of transparency also shows in the product sheets they uniquely design for each item using their own scoring system. These sheets provide shoppers with digestible information about sustainability assessments, certifications, organizations, and labels, as well as living wage benchmarks, including Wage Indicator and Trading Economics. By partnering with Soles4Souls, Nisolo takes extended producer responsibility and ensures to keep their products out of landfills. While the brand has not yet introduced an in-house recycling or resale system for sent-in products, it distributes them to underserved communities via micro-entrepreneurs. Lastly, the brand has not only endorsed the FABRIC Act but also lobbied for the now-implemented Garment Worker Protection Act, abolishing the piece rate pay system, thus aiming to nearly triple the average garment worker salary in California.

Christy Dawn

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by CHRISTY DAWN (@christydawn)

Another vanguard of the slow fashion movement is Christy Dawn. The label embraces a feminine “Cottage Core“ aesthetic that conveys timeless elegance and features flowy silhouettes with subtle patterns. After having already cultivated a devoted following by creating dresses from deadstock, Christy Dawn embarked on its transformative journey with its Farm to Closet Collection: a remarkable collection made from regeneratively grown cotton, flourishing on 80 acres in Erode, India. After the label invested in this land to heal, it is now able to sequester 38 tons of carbon within a six-month period and benefit from a thriving habitat that enriches the land’s vitality, abiding from the use of toxic agricultural chemicals. Anyone can invest and take part in fostering regenerative farmland through the brand’s Land Stewardship program.

While Christy Dawn has yet to define its living wage methodology for its garment workers in LA and India, it is on the right path to enforcing living wages by supporting the FABRIC Act. The label also works with Oshadi Collective, a group of farmers and artisans, who decide the price for their cotton themselves and thus ensure fairly distributed profits.

Hope for Flowers

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Hope For Flowers (@hopeforflowersbytracyreese)

Hope for Flowers, the brainchild of renowned American designer Tracy Reese, embodies a harmonious fusion of socially and ecologically responsible principles with the signature feminine fashion that has earned her widespread acclaim. Reese is determined to also nurture a sustainable ethos within her brand, evident through the use of materials such as organic cotton, linen, Tencel™ Lyocell, and Cupro and having already eliminated leather and polyester from its materials portfolio. Her approach includes a concerted effort to shorten the supply chain, infusing vitality into underserved communities through her artisan studio based in Detroit. This initiative not only champions a diverse team of talented Black creatives but also extends its reach into the community, offering free arts enrichment programs.

Hope for Flowers openly acknowledges that transparency remains a vital stepping stone on its sustainability journey. An increased level of transparency, particularly concerning supply chain operations and worker conditions, could be accelerated by the brand’s endorsement of the FABRIC Act. The adoption of the FABRIC Act would ensure a living wage benchmark for its garment workers, aligning the brand more closely with its mission of preserving both people’s well-being and the planet’s health.

MATE the Label

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by MATE the Label (@mate_the_label)

MATE The Label crafts a wide range of organic essentials from materials like cotton, linen, and Tencel™ Lyocell while consciously avoiding environmentally harmful materials such as nylon, polyester, conventional cotton, and rayon. Its collection features activewear, intimates, sleepwear, and homeware. Although it uses some virgin oil-based synthetics minimally for stretch fabrics, the brand is committed to incorporating recycled materials into its line. To achieve that goal, the brand takes proactive steps to support regenerative farming by collaborating with other brands, scientists, and farmers on regenerative practices in California’s Central Valley. It launched a clothing take-back and recycling program in partnership with SuperCircle, demonstrating its commitment to responsible end-of-wear product management.

 

What’s more, the brand endorses the FABRIC Act and discloses information about restricted chemicals, dyes, and its carbon footprint. However, to enhance its sustainability efforts, MATE the Label needs to focus on reducing absolute emissions rather than solely relying on carbon offsets. It recognizes the connection between social and environmental impacts and must prioritize intersectional environmentalism in their sourcing and manufacturing communities. With its factories just 17 miles away from the headquarters and an explicit Code of Conduct on its website, the brand takes its first steps toward accountability which could be further optimized by legally binding third-party audits and factory certifications.

Known Supply

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by KNOWN SUPPLY (@knownsupply)

Known Supply is a brand with a profound mission: to reestablish the human connection within the fashion industry. It achieves this by featuring the signature of the person who crafted each garment, celebrating the artisans behind our clothing. This initiative humanizes the fashion supply chain, bridging the gap between consumers and makers. Founded by Travis Hartanov and Kohl Crecelius, who previously co-founded Krochet Kids intl., Known Supply is more than an apparel brand; it’s a social movement. It serves those who prioritize people and wish to see their stories at the forefront of the fashion conversation. Known Supply’s commitment to humanizing fashion and its partnerships for positive change is commendable. However, to fully embrace its vision of being “The Most Human Brand,” it should work towards greater transparency in labor conditions and environmental practices to ensure a more sustainable and ethical future.

While Known Supply champions ethical values, such as supporting worker-centric legislation like the FABRIC Act, there are areas where transparency could be improved. The brand advocates for fair wages but doesn’t specify its definition or the percentage of workers earning it. On the environmental front, Known Supply has taken commendable steps, partnering with For Days for a recycling program. However, the full details of this process remain undisclosed.

Another Tomorrow

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Another Tomorrow (@anothertomorrow)

Modern luxury brand, Another Tomorrow, was (somewhat unintentionally) founded by Vanessa Barboni Hallik in early 2018 while she was on a sabbatical from her former career in emerging markets finance. There is nothing unintentional about Another Tomorrow’s ethos, products and circular business model, however. With every decision having been “guided by a value system based on three pillars – human, animal, and environmental welfare”, Barboni Hallik has built her company on “principles of community, transparency, and organic scarcity.”

While the company does not currently disclose its Tier 1 cut-and-sew supplier list, citing privacy concerns for factory owners living adjacent to their facilities, it shares its Tier 2 fabric mills on the open apparel registry. It has also created a unique digital identity and QR code for every single one of its pieces, with each linked to a database of information about how and where the individual item was made.

In addition to its commitment to quality sourcing and manufacturing, AT is conscious of the _quantity _of clothing it produces, too. Given that over 11 million tons of textile and clothing waste is landfilled annually in the U.S. alone.

DÔEN

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by D Ô E N (@shopdoen)

An ode to female power and beauty, DÔEN is a women-run business offering quality clothing and home goods which invoke “a nostalgia for the coastal California of decades past.” The company produces a majority of its product out of woman-owned or co-owned factories and plans to work toward understanding and reducing its ecological impact. Forthcoming goals include the development of a 2030 roadmap defining an approach to recycled materials inclusion, as well as the introduction of regeneratively farmed cotton sourced from California and India to its collections. Additionally, the company aims to source low water-use fibers to provide more alternatives to its current cotton-heavy offering. DÔEN is also developing a recommerce program and has partnered with TheRealReal to promote the circulation of secondhand goods.

As DÔEN continues its pursuit of full supply chain transparency for Tiers 1-4, the disclosure of facility-specific information such as names, locations and number of workers is to be expected, as are insights into working conditions. On wages, the company notes that compensation paid to the majority of supply chain workers outperforms living wage benchmarks in each respective manufacturing region; however, actual wage data is needed to confirm these claims. Notably, DÔEN intends to share a report affording context to its pricing by category and how proceeds are distributed for operating expenses. DÔEN may be a small company, but such rare pursuits have the potential to set precedent for the rest of the industry when it comes to radical transparency.

Everlane

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Everlane (@everlane)

Everlane excels when it comes to fabric innovation, moving beyond investments in pilot programs and research to actually offer its customer-base alternatives to virgin materials, such as upcycled wool and GRS-certified recycled polyester and nylon. As for cotton, the largest category in its materials portfolio, Everlane has primarily focused on increasing its uptake of organic cotton versus recycled. However, in partnership with the Rodale Institute, the company has donated $200,000 to help convert conventional farmland to regenerative organic. Whether the company intends to incorporate regenerative biogenic materials into its actual offering remains to be seen.

Everlane has also reached 90% of its goal to design out all virgin plastics from its products and packaging, and while the brand has noted the difficulty in finding alternative materials for trims and elastane, it has still managed to offer some products with recycled trims, buttons, and linings — something rarely seen in the broader industry.

Outerknown

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Outerknown (@outerknown)

Founded by pro-surfer Kelly Slater, Outerknown aims to uphold purposeful design, responsible sourcing, and Fair Labor practices in the creation of its conscious clothing line. Among its men’s and women’s collections you’ll find easy, understated silhouettes made from high-quality and increasingly low-impact materials. With an emphasis on social and environmental sustainability, Outerknown seeks to offer versatile pieces fit for diverse lifestyle needs, that also have a positive impact on the people who make them and the planet at large. On its journey to becoming fully circular by 2030, the brand hopes to lead the industry as a circular innovation catalyst.

To aid in material selection, Outerknown utilizes an in-house fiber policy and scorecard that lays out criteria for the sustainability and circularity potential of various fibers. The lifestyle brand is working to increase its use of lower-impact fibers such as organic cotton, hemp, recycled cotton, and responsible wool and currently, 90% of the fibers it sources are organic, recycled, or regenerated.

Raven + Lily

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Raven + Lily (@ravenandlily)

With its thoughtfully handcrafted jewelry, homeware and leather bags made from durable natural materials, primarily sourced locally within their artisans’ communities, women-led, Austin-based Raven + Lily has advocated for a responsible approach to design and production for over ten years.

Striving to reduce textile waste, both in general and within its own operations, Raven + Lily not only utilizes upcycled brass and glass in its jewelry and homeware collections, it also repurposes leather remnants to create its Patchwork and Colorblock collections. Beyond prioritizing more conscious manufacturing, the company provides case by case repair services to help extend the life of its leather goods.

A member of the Fair Trade Federation, Raven + Lily aims to create dignified and flexible employment opportunities for the women and, in particular, the working mothers in its supplier communities.

The Consistency Project

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by The Consistency Project (@theconsistencyproject)

The Consistency Project (TCP) is a New York City-based, multi-disciplinary design studio solely dedicated to bringing new life to reclaimed and pre-existing materials. TCP self-identifies as “an experiment in new American workwear and lifestyle through secondhand, rework, and design”. An ‘experiment’ it is – TCP began as a passion project for founder Natasha Halesworth, an Hawaiian native on a mission to create with purpose and change the way consumers engage with clothing.

In addition to designing and producing their own ‘reworked’ collections, which include bags, pants and various accessories, TCP carries a range of foundational vintage workwear pieces. The brand specializes, however, in elevated pant fittings for pre-loved denim and workwear. Customers can book a personalized retail experience that is focused around inclusivity as much as it is reuse.

fabric act brands

Want to show your support for Garment workers? Join REmake in calling your representatives!



Related Stories

Join the Conversation

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *