Posted June 25, 2013 01:59 pm

Being a conscious consumer

homemade dress
A homemade dress.

The death toll from recent clothing factory disasters is high; more than 1,100 in the Bangladesh collapse, around 300 in the Karachi fire in Pakistan. When you look at the label of your clothing, where does it say it's made? 

Some of my clothing tags do say "Made in Bangladesh"  or "Made in China" and maybe "Made in Pakistan" — it makes me wonder if having affordable fashion is worth the conditions caused by our consumer demands. My Gap dress cost $40 on sale — but at what cost? 

How little are workers paid? How grim are the conditions? How long the hours? What age were the workers? How many died who may have had a hand in the construction of that dress? 

Some of the clothes I have invested more money in are made in the U.S., where conditions for workers are better-regulated and where there are minimum wage laws. It costs more ($100+ for a jersey dress by Velvet by Graham and Spencer), but it comes without the guilt. 

Of course, there are many in the U.S. who cannot justify spending $100 for a single garment, because they are making minimum wage — can a U.S. garment worker afford to buy the garments they are manufacturing? 

Well, today I am wearing a dress that cost me less than $40 and was not constructed in a sweatshop — it's homemade. It's a hobby I've started to take more seriously lately. I have a handful of skirts and dresses in my wardrobe that I've made myself, that can be worn without guilt and with a sense of pride at having made something myself. 

I guess the next question is, how are the conditions in the Singer sewing machine factories? 


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