Ethical Fashion Is A Women's Empowerment Issue

T-Shirt via Christian Dior. Was it truly feminist? 

T-Shirt via Christian Dior. Was it truly feminist? 

The power of fashion is that clothes can have the ability to empower us from the inside out.

Whether we are we are wearing a power suit to a job interview or a statement t-shirt in our every day lives, the clothes we wear is our message to the world. Sometimes, a brand new dress can do the trick of outfitting a renewed sense of confidence. We’ve all had that one item that we slipped on, and suddenly, it felt (and looked) like pure magic. With it, we were more ready to take on the world.

But have you ever stopped to think where these clothes come from, and how they were made?

On the other side of the world, another woman, not much different from you and I, made the clothes we wear. She has similar wants and dreams: to live a good life, to have adventure, to provide for her family, and most importantly, she demands to be safe at work, to be free from any forms of harassment, and to have equal pay.

“I was 19 when I left my home village in Yulian and headed to the city to find work at a factory. That’s what many girls from my village do. I was so curious and excited to explore the world outside. Three years later my entire life is the factory, full of long hard hours on my feet." -Ming Hui, a factory worker from China Image and caption via Remake

“I was 19 when I left my home village in Yulian and headed to the city to find work at a factory. That’s what many girls from my village do. I was so curious and excited to explore the world outside. Three years later my entire life is the factory, full of long hard hours on my feet." -Ming Hui, a factory worker from China

Image and caption via Remake

But to make the clothes that we wear to empower ourselves, her voice is in turn, suppressed and disempowered in the process. Every day, she worries whether she will get paid fairly, if she will be sexually or physically harassed by her boss, or if she will remain safe in her working conditions.

Over 60 million people are employed by the garment industry, and over 80% of them are millennial women of color ages 18-24.

Coincidentally, this is the same demographic of women that I’ve worked with in the United States, the same women I’ve been committed to empowering through writing and self-empowerment workshops. And just like the women that I’ve worked with, the women working at garment factories are just as bold and strong, and they deserve to be recognized. 

Understanding that ethical fashion is a women's empowerment issue is what led me to the movement, and my aspiration is to connect the dots between both causes

Today, being a feminist is 'on trend', and while it is positive that this is becoming a mainstream idea, we also have to question the authenticity of it when it hits places like the fashion runway. With so many "women's empowerment" slogans and themes available across so many brands, it is imperative that we ask them if any women were disempowered in the process of making these clothes. 

If we truly want to be feminist and to advocate for every woman's right to be safe, to have equal pay, and to live her best life, then it's time we champion that for women across the world- from all sides of the supply chain. It's time to mean what we say, and to wear what we mean. 

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Want to know how to get involved? Here's a few ways how: 

1. An article came out recently about Zara not paying their workers. Tweet to Zara and tell them: @Zara this is unacceptable. Pay your workers what they deserve. Additionally, tweet your favorite brands and ask them #whomademyclothes ? (Via Fashion Revolution)

2. Educate yourself on the connections between women's empowerment and responsible fashion. Here's a past article I've written that could shed more insight.  

See more stories via Remake here. 

3. Vote with your dollar: make some adjustments in your shopping habits to become more responsible. You can find ideas here, here, and here. If you're interested in buying ethical brands, check out my Ethical Brand Directory here. 

Lastly, stay tuned for more blog posts here to give you more ideas!