Day 163: Profit and loss in the fashion industry

It’s difficult to find out proper information about where our clothes come from. We read about horrific incidents such as the fire in a factory in Bangladesh, where workers made garments for well known fashion labels who later claimed to be unaware their clothes were made in such conditions. Yet Oxfam estimates that almost all major American brands and some well known Australian names have their origins in sweatshops.
In this TEDx talk by Alice Jones and Louise Visser from Eco fashion label, Sinerji, the presenters ask why the company were unaware. In doing so, they challenge the traditional profit and loss model which only measures the balance sheet.
So are cancer, displacement, child labour or hazardous workplaces positive gains? Jones and Visser ask why we apply different rules to business than we do to life. They endeavour to work with the producers of their clothes, using natural dyes to prevent against the cancers and environmental destruction which are endemic in those working in sweatshops. They understand the need for ongoing quality control and training. As a result, there is constant chatter in their factories as communal issues are solved and the income earned in the community allows them to start banks and healthcare programs.
Of course, all business exist to earn money, and Sinerji is no exception. They report a 30% increase in takings each year, with figures rising to 70% last year.
There are many websites and publications in Australia promoting ethical, sustainable and fair trade clothing. If everybody made an effort to become more aware of where their clothes come from, we can collectively force the larger companies to do the same.

Talk available on:


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