The Dirt Clothing Manufactures Don’t Want You To See

You may not be aware of this, but that new favorite T-shirt and jeans you bought, are dirty...or rather...the clothing industry that made them is.

By "dirty" I mean, colossal C02 gas-emitter, water-consumer, chemical-exposing, ethically-unconscious...dirty!

While the judges are still arguing whose the dirtiest of them all, the fashion industry is one of the most polluting, dirty business on the globe...somewhere behind oil and coal.

But wait...before you go get all riled-up that you didn't really know, here's what one transparent fashion industry executive, Patrick Woodyard, had to say, "...the fashion industry has been defined by a complete lack of connection between the original producer and the end consumer." 

So by definition, to be fashionable, you, me, and millions of others remain blissfully unaware of the hidden cost behind our wardrobe.

To underscore Mr. Woodward's you know who made your clothes, how much that worker earns, the quality of their working conditions, or the hours they work? 

If you answered, "not really," you'd be honest, and you wouldn't be the only one.

I couldn't have answered those question with confidence, either. 

Other questions I would have failed to answer correctly on an exam about the clothing industry are: What country were my clothes made in (unless I read the fine print on every label) or the total number of natural resources used, and their actual environmental impacts.

Okay, time to get out of bliss, and into reality.

To do something about my own lack of awareness, I started by watching the Netflix documentary True Cost-- the one about cheap fashion and the desperate conditions for sew shop workers around the world. My eyes were opened, and I've not been able to close them since!

The short list of things I learned (and have since verified).

Profit or human rights?

There are over 5000 garment factories in Bangladesh alone. The average worker there is paid less than $3.00 per day. Children are sent away to live with other family members because parents work such long hours they can't care for their own children. This keeps millions of sew shop workers living in abject poverty.

Still, these workers are the backbone of the fashion industry. Without their extremely long days at low wages and the low-rent and unsafe facilities they work in, many clothing manufacturers could not fuel their exaggerated profit margins...squeezed-out of the livelihood of garment workers...or keep pace with their mico-season production.

Need proof?

2013 in Bangladesh, over 2,000 garment workers were killed and thousands more injured from the collapse of a factory building and factory fires

These facts are, sadly, very real, and the human cost of being fashionable becomes a question of conscious.

The massive implications.

People aren't the only exploitation of the fashion industry.  Valuable resources are consumed at an inexcusable rate. 

Cotton, for example, is used for most fabric manufacturing, had become almost exclusively grown from GMO seeds, which have been heavily sprayed with pesticides. 

Millions of acres of cotton fields are treated regularly with chemicals. This begs the question: What's the cost to the soil quality, watersheds, the health of the people and animals in the area?

More alarming, is the dramatic rise in birth defects, cancer, and other diseases occurring in these locations, as well. 

I know this list is both depressing and daunting but stay with me...

Your favorite pair of leather shoes, probably have leather that came from Kanpur, the largest producer of leather in the world.  Chromium, which is used in the chemicals for treating leather, is poisoning water in the region.  And a staggering rate of workers and residents there, are sick from the exposure to the metals, or the contamination to pure water supplies.

Filling in the gaps.

The 1960s were the heyday for "Made in the U.S.A." 95% of all U.S clothing manufacturers, manufactured in the U.S. Today, that figure is a scant 3%!

As U.S clothing manufacturers (and worldwide), seek ever-lower production cost to churn-out clothing at a "material world" pace, the gap between production location and purchase location has widened, while the accountability and transparency of the supply chains have become a gulf quite tricky to cross.

Marketing or programming?

The messages in our media solve problems we don't really have and manufacture reasons to buy more. In the process, we lose sight of what's essential to living well, caring for our families, and clothing ourselves.

We exhaust ourselves trying to maintain the imaginary freedom or quality of life offered by "lifestyle" brands, and we're none the happier for it. Turns out, Americans rank #18 among developed countries when it comes to happiness. But at least we look stylish!

Lookin' good, going nowhere!

The model of make-it-cheaper-faster...drives quality down, clothes become disposable, and the hidden costs mount in increasingly unsustainable, and unconscionable ways.

We've arrived at the heart of the matter.  The whole system is broken and needs debunking (but that's a rant for another day).

For now, the good and I can choose another way.

Step #1: Become educated.

Learn which clothing companies are notorious offenders and those who are making real efforts to make a change. I suggest going to 

Step #2: Become aware of your own clothing habits (without judgment).

Step #3: Be a rebel...just say "no" to "retail therapy!" Instead, become a conscious choice consumer!  

That's why I created Imbued. I wanted to create an intelligent solution that contributes to the #slowfashionmovement and the #fashionrevoluiton. An eco-conscious process you could count on, and be proud to #getyourrobeon!

Imbued robes are practical, serve a purpose, and the top-quality material choice that should last many seasons!

And the added value to all purchases is that at Imbued, we donate a portion of our proceeds to support Hawaii non-profits who are also making a contribution!

The BIG news is that the robes are almost ready to launch!

Kristin Brown