In fact, as I write this post I can practically hear the sound of marketing teams rubbing their hands together because International Women’s Day is finally upon us.
These days clothing brands, accessory companies and probably even fucking loo role manufacturers love to use #empowerment as a way to sell their products. And none more so than on IWD. Even just a quick scroll through Instagram this morning provided me with many a picture from fast fashion brands littered with phrases like “badass” and “girl power”, alongside some kind of discount code.
I think the perfect example is this campaign by Pretty Little Thing. Whilst there is obviously nothing wrong or unethical about inclusivity, this bothers me for two main reasons. The first is the fact that PLT certainly doesn’t promote inclusivity and diversity the majority of the time. I mean, scroll past the #everyBODYinPLT campaign shots at the top of the site and you’ll be hard pushed to find a model above a bloody size 6! On top of that, Pretty Little Thing is owned by Boohoo, a company who are known to have paid workers below minimum wage and who are massively sketchy about their supply chain. They are the epitome of fast fashion.
But it’s okay because you can get 20% off trousers and coats!
As I’ve said 100 times before here on my blog, it’s one of those things that really gets under my skin.
Whilst they might emblazon everything in sight with slogans about empowering women, the ethics of these shops often just don’t match up.
The truth is that fast fashion continues to perpetuate the mistreatment of women on a daily basis: H&M is said to have fired 251 workers due to pregnancy in Cambodia and India and it is reported that 8,000 workers have collapsed in their factories due to heat and exhaustion between 2010 and 2016 in Cambodia alone. Topshop has been linked to the use of sweatshops that pay their workers 44p per hour. The wages of workers in garment factories in Bangladesh earn on average 33 US cents per hour. And A top corporate CEO earns as much in a year as 10,000 garment workers earn in Bangladesh.
Related post: The Fundamentals of Fast Fashion and Why It’s Fucked Up
I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure these overworked, underpaid and massively mistreated garment factory workers are not feeling those “Girl Power” vibes that so many fast fashion giants will be profiting from this International Women’s Day.
With that being said, if there’s one thing that I can implore you to do today when every brand is talking about how much they love women, it’s to not fall for it. With so many companies cottoning on to the fact that consumers are becoming more ethically conscious, many are putting massive budgets behinds trying to make it look like they care. I know that I’ve most certainly fallen for it in the past. So, trust me, I understand that it can feel like a total minefield.
However, to make it that little bit easier I’ve compiled a short list of some actually feminist companies to give your coin to this International Women’s Day, if possible: Companies that are independent and support women. Companies that truly use their influence for good.
Birdsong London work with two rules, 1. No Sweatshops and, 2. No Photoshop.
Pretty incredible, huh?
Working exclusively with women’s groups and charities, the brand is doing their bit to get rid of the ambiguity within fashion supply chains to ensure that nobody is mistreated. All of the people they collaborate with are paid London living wage, as well as being offered a range of holistic support.
Size range: S – 3XL
If it’s slogan t-shirts (or totes, or tea towels!) that you’re after, Grl Clb is the place for you.
Founded on the principles, “equality is equality. exclusive equality is not equality. everyone is welcome. “, I have loved and supported the brand for years now. In fact, you’ve no doubt heard me harp on about it before!
Hand printed by founder Ruth Finn Leiser, all of the products are made in safe and healthy working conditions and all workers are paid a living wage. And what’s not to love about a brand that is loud and proud about changing the world, without any of the oh-so-common hypocrisy that we see floating around the fashion industry?
Size range: XS – 3XL
VEJA is best known for the fact that they create completely vegan trainers that are as gorgeous as they are cruelty-free. However, the company also have an incredible and transparent supply chain and ethical policies.
Their factories adhere to ILO rules, meaning that all of their workers have the complete right to unionise, to a good standard of living and to freedom of expression. Based in Brazil, their workers are also paid considerably more than the minimum wage and are provided with 4 weeks of holiday and extra pay if they work overtime.
Made state, “We believe in transparency and integrity in all that we do.” And boy does it show!
The company truly do seem to put people at the heart of their business. Based in Kenya, they employ over 80 women and men. They are dedicated to providing them with safe working environments and with long-term job security. On top of that, they work to make sure that they train employees and “upskill” them. For example, whilst they take on skilled craftsmen and women, they also offer great opportunities for people that are new to the industry and eager to learn.