THE LABEL DOESN’T TELL THE WHOLE STORY

  • Mata Traders
  • 23 Apr, 2015

A few weeks ago, we discovered a campaign created by the Canadian Fair Trade Network. It highlights the point that a garment’s tag really doesn’t tell you much. Made in India, huh?

What if the tag told the whole story? Like this red hoodie:

“100% cotton. Made in Sierra Leone by Tejan. The first few times he coughed up blood he hid it from his family. They couldn’t afford medical treatment and he couldn’t risk losing his long-time job at the cotton plantation. When he fell into a seizure one day it could no longer be ignored. The diagnosis was pesticide poisoning. The lack of proper protective clothing has left him with leukemia at the age of 34. He has two daughters. One of them starts work at the factory next year.”

Or this yellow sweater:

“100% cotton. Made in Cambodia by Behnly, nine years old. He gets up at 5:00 am every morning to make his way to the garment factory where he works. It will be dark when he arrives and dark when he leaves. He dresses lightly because the temperature in the room he works reaches 30 degrees. The dust in the room fills his nose and mouth. He will make less than a dollar, for a day spent slowly suffocating. A mask would cost the company ten cents.”

We posted about the campaign and got an overwhelmingly positive response! So, in honor of Fashion Revolution Day and the second anniversary of the Rana Plaza garment factory collapse, we decided to put the whole story on one of our own tags:

“100% cotton. Made in India by Rosy. ‘I started working for my family, but now I work for me, for my heart.’ Like many families, hers had money problems. She and her husband dreamed of giving their children an education. When she joined the co-op, she had never sewn before, but when the co-op saw what a hard worker she was, she was promoted to a supervisor role, and kept moving up. Now she’s an assistant production manager. Rosy has earned not only a living wage but also the respect of her family and community. Rosy’s oldest son attended school and is now happily married, while her youngest son is finishing his education.”

We would include stories like Rosy’s on every tag if we could, but those would be some seriously long tags. That’s the thing about fair trade, though, you can learn the whole story. And the story’s a good one, because that’s the point of fair trade – to do good.

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