Cotton Chain

Slavery in fashion starts with the fabric.


To open our closet in the morning and pick what we are going to wear for the day, might seem like an ordinary action, that has not much to it, they are just outfits, they are there to keep us covered and help us translate an image, either if is a professional, fashionable, fancy or stay-at-home look. And because we need them or even love them, it can be complicated to think, talk, or better yet change when it comes to altering an ordinary habit as getting dressed.

When we read the words "slavery in the fashion industry”, we immediately connect it to scandal of huge brands associating themselves with slavery. But what most people don’t know is that this problem starts with the material of the fabric itself, and that is what we want to talk about in this article.

Cottons history, as a lot of other plantation products, is told by men that were sold into slavery; to exemplify in the year 1803 there were more than twenty thousand men brought into the southern United States to work in these plantations. This is just one country, and one type of product, and this specific horrible story is still not over, for the men that are telling it are in the same position they were two centuries ago.

Brazil being the fifth biggest producer wasn’t immune to the cotton plantation slavery. In 2003, 259 men were rescued from the “Tabuleiro” farm, which had one of the owners of Gol Airlines associated with. In 2009 United States beloved Victoria Secrets was involved in a child labor scandal in Burkina Faso, which they'd denied, even though in 2008 there were studies published about this country slavery situation.

Again, these are only two examples, that already affected, or even ruined the lives of many to walk on this earth. And only looking at them can open our eyes to a very serious and actual problem.

How the Slavery Chain works.

The production networks are controlling this great number of lives. Because of poor life-conditions, or just simple kidnaping, men work on farms for 1 daily "plate of meal", in most cases on a scolding sun, with no hope of ever changing their condition, and sometimes suffering physical penalty for not being able to keep-up with absurd expectations.

Because the farmers have almost no cost with their "workers", the product is sold in a cheap price for companies all over the world, going straight to their factory. And on those there are very probable chances to also contain slave-work to create the clothings fabric.

After the fabric is turned into a piece of clothing, they are shipped to the stores, with high-prices making the owners and stylists, to get a much non-deserved salary.

The responsibility.

The International Labor Organization is an Organ responsible to ensure that men and women all around the globe are being employed in secure, decent, and free environments. That are famous actors working together with them trying to bring awareness to numerous flaws in the "labor world”.

If there is an organization and there are people working towards a solution, why is there still so many men working in horrible conditions?

The fault lies in many for; the farms should be penalized heavily for their actions, better yet, shut down; the companies that purchase it should be aware of the working conditions in those farms; or even the International Labor Organization should prioritize the ones that need more help.

And last but not least, we as consumers should learn more about the brands that we like, and make sure that we are not contributing, or even better not buying new clothes anymore. For is a chain of problems, one generating the other, and we are a part of it!

Our part.

Have you ever been on a conversation, where someone started talking about slavery nowadays, and just thought to yourself: That's horrible, but I can't do anything to help, and I wish someone would change the subject. For me personally every time that this subject comes up, I feel like there is at least one person on the circle thinking that, and I hope you are not one them, but if you are, and this has opened your eyes, I encourage you to feel already part of a good change .

It is easy to think that we are not responsible for slavery, that this problem is in the past, or even that not being aware of it takes the blame out of our shoulders; but nowadays there are many countries that contain slave work, selling their products to big companies, that sell to us their final product.

It might seem further from you, and that you do what you can not to be involved in it, but the truth is not addressing this problem, and not seeing the repercussions in our own lives is already being involved, for the worst.

A Piece of Solution.

Desvista believes that if you make a conscious change in your consumerism thinking, and became an adept to the second-hand stores, or even better, learn how to use 100% of your closet, you would be putting human lives first,  and stopping this illness that money creates, and already be working towards a healthier, free of slavery, world.

Habits are hard  to change, but that’s all they are, hard, not impossible. As an easy solution we can learn about how the industry works, and how we can take practical steps not to be involved with the fifth biggest contributor of slavery.

Try not to be a part of this horrendous puzzle, but a part of the change!

Written by Rafaela M. Glaser