We started designing and printing T-shirts about 15 years ago, some more successful than others, but the journey has taught us a lot over the years. There are a few important things to consider when getting involved in something like the fashion industry, firstly, it is competitive and secondly it is big, huge, enormous. Like most big things in this day and age, they have a big impact. It has taken time and research but with a clear goal in mind that we wanted to source garments from a suppliers that was fair to it’s employees but that had a big interest in the environment. Our T-shirt’s are supplied through a company called Continental Clothing, who are extremely proactive. They have adopted a robust policy with regards to the following minimum social responsibility criteria:
- No use of child labour
- No use of forced labour
- Safe and healthy working conditions
- Legal labour contracts
- Payment of living wage
- Freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining
- No discrimination against employees
- No excessive hours of work
Continental Clothing Co. have been running a pro-active social responsibility programme as a member of Fair Wear Foundation since 2006. All the Company’s manufacturing facilities are regularly audited for social compliance and are running active monitoring programmes in accordance with standards advocated by the International Labour Organisation, the Ethical Trading Initiative and other international bodies.
Continental Clothing Co. also recognises that garment manufacturing is one of the most environmentally damaging and harmful industrial sectors on the planet, and takes decisive and often pioneering steps towards addressing the many negative impacts. Starting with the sourcing of raw materials, the Company ensures full traceability of all fibres, choosing low impact cotton, Tencel® Lyocel, bamboo and EcoVero viscose, and recycled polyester in the Continental® range, 100% certified organic cotton in the EarthPositive® range, and recycled organic cotton blended with recycled polyester in the Salvage® range.
So going back to my original point that the fashion industry is both big and competitive, I believe that in order to protect the people of this plant and the planet itself we must not try to compete with that market by lowering costs, we must start investing in what we wear. This means doing a little research on the brand you’re buying from and not always looking for that bargain. Cheap throw away clothing might make you feel good initially, but that discount is only hurting the most vulnerable people in the manufacturing chain, the workers. I know that we could buy cheaper T-shirt’s and sell them at a lower prices, but I like to think that what we are selling is a small part of an investment in people and our planet.