As consumers, are we truly aware of what it takes to make the things we wear and love?
The average person buys 60% more clothing each year, most of which are worn less than 7 times before it is thrown out. This trend encourages fast fashion companies to continuously churn out mass quantities of low-quality garments that are cheap.
But the truth is that fast fashion is only possible at the expense of millions of garment workers, 75% of whom are women and girls, who are often overworked under hazardous environments for meagre pay and in poor working conditions.
Image of an artisan, captured during our field trip to Vietnam
Most women handworkers do not have employment contracts, legal rights or any form of social protection, and are often not paid enough to escape the poverty cycle. 600 million women are in the most insecure and precarious forms of work.
This disparity in treatment and wage is widely influenced by gender inequality, where women are forced into work of long hours for little wages, without the means to seek better jobs or demand for a reasonable wage.
International Women’s Day has just passed, but it is vital for us to continue the conversation. Gender inequality in the economy costs women in countries across the Majority World $9 trillion a year – a sum which would not only give new spending power to women and benefit their families and communities, but would also provide a massive boost to the economy as a whole.
Partnering artisan Da, from Prek Chrey Village, Cambodia
With women driving 70+% of all consumer purchases globally, women as consumers also have the power to alleviate the unfair treatment of other women and girls in developing regions, and push for the rights they deserve by being more conscious in how we consume.
You can do so by investing only in pieces that you will wear repeatedly, and supporting brands that provide their garment workers with fair wages.
Changing our shopping habits doesn't mean fashion has to cease being exciting! Invest in basics or versatile neutrals, and use your creativity to add a personal touch to the outfit, be it wearing it in unique ways or jazzing it up with simple accessories. Our favourite ethical brands the likes of Everlane, MATTER Prints and Know The Origin commit to just that. After all, the best styles aren't ones that are trendy but are those that reflects your own unique personality.
At Artisan & Fox, we’re committed to uplifting our women artisans by paying them fairly and through our social programmes. Radically different from other companies, our women artisans are paid approximately 50% of the gross profits from your purchase, and we also provide zero-interest micro-credit (Thrive Transfers) to our women partners to help them grow their businesses.
Realize that with your purchasing decision, you have the power to make a positive change.