For the Ethical Shopper - Why Buy American Made?
Hello Heart of Haute Fans, I will warn you now, this wont exactly be the most feel-good or happy post. In fact, it may be eye opening to some of you or saddening. I want to address something that we feel strongly about and that is sweatshop labor. We believe in paying people fair wages and providing a comfortable work environment for our employees. Not just because it's the law, but because we want to! We know that happy employees makes good quality products and service.
I'm sure many people are aware of the concept of what a sweatshop is. The majority of items you can buy from the mall or big box stores, often called "fast fashion," are made overseas in sweatshop factories all around the world. Check the label in the dress you're trying on, it will surely say "Made in China" or Bangladesh or Indonesia or Vietnam or Mexico... There were two recent catastrophes in Bangladesh. These disasters occurred due to the factory owner neglecting to keep the building safe for working environments.
From the industrial revolution, to the scandals involving Nike in the 1990s, working conditions that produce consumer goods have often been questionable. In 2013, there was a fire in a garment factory, which provided items to WalMart, that left 112 dead. On April 24th of 2013, a garment factory building collapsed, which left more than 500 people dead. The building collapsed because of power generators shaking the walls. Both of these incidents could have been avoided if upgrades were made to the buildings, and with all the money the companies are making from this cheap labor, you would hope they would at least take that responsibility. It's just unfortunate - and issues like these continue today.
So what can you do? There are many alternatives to fast fashion, but it requires a little extra time and creativity. You can also make a personal effort to avoid spending money in places that you know use sweatshop labor.
- Shop American- As you know, Heart of Haute is all made in the US within a 20 mile radius of our main office in Los Angeles county, if not under our own roof in San Dimas. Shopping for products made in the US means you're supporting American jobs and you'll also find yourself with a better quality item.
- Shop Etsy- There are tons of young entrepreneurs who are hungry to share their unique designs with the world! You can help them and have a good experience. There is something very special about knowing an item is one-of-a-kind or maybe even made just for you. www.etsy.com
- Shop Vintage- I know we love shopping for vintage! These items always come with their own story and are also usually much better quality than most things you can find today. Compare a vintage dress from 1962 to a contemporary mall-bought dress. There's a reason that Vintage dress has lasted as long as it has.
- Shop Recycled- Sure, you have to sift through racks of random articles of clothing. Check out places that also donate to support good causes: Buffalo Exchange, Out of the Closet, and Goodwill.
Interested in learning more? Check out this book, Overdressed by Elizabeth Cline. She explores the world of cheap and fast fashion. This site even includes a list of online stores and designers that follow ethical practices. So, I do apologize if this has left you feeling icky or sad about your own shopping habits- that is certainly not my goal. Shopping and new clothing should make us feel good. I think if we become more aware of the connection we have with the maker of our items, it gives us reason to continue to make good choices for ourselves.
With Love & No Regrets, Mandie Bee