How can you find out your clothing origin?

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Mass production, dangerous working conditions, use of harmful materials … People increasingly want to know where, how and in what conditions their clothes are made.

It’s not clear to consumers whether a camisole was made by an exploited worker or whether extremely polluting dyes were used for a pair of jeans. The big brands are covering their tracks and the regulations in terms of clothing origin information are inadequate.

However, there are some tips that will help you find out, in part, the origin of your clothes and ensure that you can avoid buying clothing made under questionable conditions.

Opt for more transparent brands

In recent decades, major industry brands have outsourced their garment manufacturing to cheap labour in countries such as Bangladesh, China or India. These big brands aren’t the only ones responsible for the poor working conditions in the textile industry. The ever-increasing demand from consumers for low-cost products is pushing shop owners in Asia to produce in ever-increasing numbers without necessarily worrying about the health and safety of workers.

When shopping for cheap big brand name clothes, you risk buying a product that has been made in dubious working conditions. However, it’s not a precise indicator, since there are many conditions that can regulate a product’s price. Costs may, for example, depend on the margins that the retailer decides to apply to the garment.

To be sure that the products you shop for are made in conditions that respect the environment and human dignity, it’s better to turn to brands that offer a more transparent manufacturing process. Look for brands that produce their clothing locally,make sure they use organic and fair-trade materials and that they promote respect for working conditions.

Clothing origin: read the labels

Any consumer concerned about their clothing origin should pay attention to the country printed on the labels. If it says “Bangladesh” on the tag, this may raise some questions.
However, the mention of “Bangladesh” doesn’t necessarily imply that the product comes from a workshop that exploits workers or employs children. It only indicates the garment’s country of origin. It would be reductive to say that all garment factories fail to meet the standards set by the International Labour Organization.Some Bangladeshi factory managers provide good working conditions to their employees.

The 2013 Rana Plaza disaster marked a turning point. More than 1100 people died in a building collapse that housed several garment factories in Bangladesh. Many major apparel companies subsequently committed to improving factory safety. Nevertheless, many workers still suffer from poor working conditions.

Showing the country of origin on labels isn’t mandatory in Canada and, when it does appear, it indicates a country without specifying which workshop the garment comes from. The label can give you an idea of your clothing origin, but the conditions under which the product is made will not be mentioned most of the time.

Are there other ways to find out my clothing origin?

Considering labels and shopping for clothes from more transparent brands are methods that can help in choosing clothing that has been made in conditions that respect the environment and human dignity.

Times are changing, and many organizations have emerged that seek more transparency for our clothing origin. One such case is the Fashion Revolution collective, which encourages us to challenge the big brands on social networks with the hashtags #Jeveuxsavoir and #WhoMadeMyClothes, about the provenance of our clothing.

Many applications have also been created to find out if your clothes are ethical. There’s GuardianWitness, an app created by the British newspaper to tell us the story behind our clothes. Finally, the Free2Work information platform gives us information on hundreds of brands’ positions on forced and child labour.

Finding the origin of your clothes is no easy task. Some brands’ lack of information and transparency prevents us from properly tracking the origin of a piece. If in doubt, it’s best to read the labels and go for brands that choose to communicate about their manufacturing process.

If you’re looking for clothing made in Canada in transparent conditions, visit our online store.

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