ethical fashion isn't a trendy lifestyle choice, it's an uncompromising belief that people should always come before profit. fashion manufacturing isn't a machine, it's a force dependent on the skill of 20 million garment workers worldwide.

our ethical ethos

rebellelion is created by a single seamstress in denver, colorado. we believe in a living wage, we believe in corporate responsibility, we believe in people over profit. we only source our materials from companies we are confident uphold the same level of ethics we require for our production, if we are unsure then we don’t buy. we love supporting small, local business whenever possible. our ethics are uncompromising.

you see, call it a pet peeve when we hear the same tired complaints about ethical clothing being too expensive when “it only cost pennies to make”. the idea that any garment can be produced for “pennies” only further validates paying garment workers severely below a living wage. so many first world consumers erase the humans behind their products, not understanding the value of the work it takes to create these essential items. the never ending hunger for a bargain is always at the expense of the manufacturing workforce in developing countries and we can no longer turn a blind eye, it is essential that we adjust our perspective to a global view of ethics when it comes to our purchasing power as consumers.

ethical impact of fast fashion

most global brands do not manufacture their clothing in developed countries so it is impossible for us to understand the devastating effects of these manufacturing practices. these factories are not polluting our waters with lethal carcinogens, not sickening our neighbors from poisonous chemicals, not forcing our families into long hours of labor in unsafe conditions, not devastating our communities into extreme poverty – the problem is out of sight, out of mind. we don’t demand transparency from the businesses where we shop but rather participate in the seasonal consumption of the latest trends. the suffering of laborers in second and third world countries is not common knowledge beyond being the butt of a joke about sweatshops and child labor. the fashion industry is booming due to the exploitation of the cheap labor provided by millions of garment workers globally and they get away with it because it happens behind closed doors in dilapidated buildings far away from consumers.

long hour & low wages

factory workers in developing countries like bangladesh are required to work 10-12 hour workdays with those numbers jumping to 18 hour days closer to deadlines. many say they have no choice but to work overtime since their wages are so low and they fear being fired if they refuse. wages are unimaginably unfair with adults sometimes making $3/day and children even less than that. the tailored wages report surveyed 20 major brands (like adidas, amazon, gap, h&m, nike, puma, under armour) to see if their manufacturing employees overseas were making a living wage- all of which received the lowest possible score meaning they produced no evidence that any worker making their clothing was paid a living wage. this cycle of poverty forces parents away from their children for the majority of each day, or even worse leaves parents no choice but to bring their young children in to the toxic environments produced by clothing manufacturing. adolescents often have to go to work at the factories early in life to help support their families, preventing them from getting a proper education.

labor exploitation & sexual harassment

while many factory employees struggle to make a living wage in a cycle of poverty that offers them no other choice, many workers worldwide are literally forced into labor. in uzbekistan, people are drafted by the government to work in the cotton fields, even schools are closed for months during the harvest season so children as young as 10 can work picking cotton. the government charges them for transportation to the fields and food they eat on the job, so that often times workers are actually in debt at the end of harvest season. uzbekistan farmers are forced to sell their cotton to a government controlled company that only pays one-third of the global market price.

the fair wear foundation and care international took a survey of 763 female workers in a vietnamese factory and nearly half had suffered from some form of violence and sexual harassment which ranged from groping, slapping, kissing and rape. 20% of the women interviewed said they were also fearful during transportation to work and many had been threatened and followed home. pay is deducted for too many bathroom breaks and workers are harassed and beaten for working too slow.

disease & health risk

cotton farmers and factory workers are subjected to long-term exposure to pesticides, lead-based dyes, and poisoning from chemicals. these toxins can have immediate effects like vomiting, headaches, disorientation and loss of consciousness. long term, workers exposed to toxic environments can suffer from impaired memory, respiratory diseases, extreme depression, seizures, cancer and death.

20% of industrial water pollution comes from textile treatment and dyeing with over 400 million pounds of toxic chemicals dumped into water systems annually. this dangerous runoff from dye houses contain heavy metals, formaldehyde, chlorine bleach and known carcinogens like arylamines.  the noyyal river is a sacred vessel that runs through tirupur in india and is so polluted that it can no longer be used for livestock or irrigation. local resident mohan sundaram eswaran said, “that river used to be clean, i could play on the banks of it. now, i cannot even look at it — all for a few dollars we earned. we cannot do that to a river that’s been running for a thousand years.” 85 % of the daily water needs for the entire population of india would be covered by the water used to grow cotton in the country.

unsafe working conditions

in addition to exposure to toxic chemicals, the factories in which garment workers manufacture clothing are usually dangerous and unfit working conditions. factories are often dimly lit and poorly ventilated, forcing workers to strain their eyes while toiling away in sweltering heat. many factories are overpacked and undersupplied, with many employees forced to complete their work while sitting on the floor.

since the majority of manufacturing plants are in developing countries, they have looser building codes with compromised building structures that lead to horrifying disasters. the rana plaza building in bangladesh was a major factory that supplied clothing for brands like the children’s place, zara and walmart. the building was knowingly constructed with substandard materials and upper floors were illegally constructed against construction codes. garment workers complained of cracks in the wall and said they could actually hear the building creak and feel the structure sway when the powerful generators were turned on. a structural engineer was sent out to inspect the building and deemed it unsafe, yet workers were still told to return to work. the next day the factory collapsed killing 1,132 people and injuring over 2,500 people with many trapped under the rubble for days. it was the deadliest garment industry accident in modern history. just a year before the rana plaza tragedy, another garment factory in bangladesh, tazreen fashions, burned down and killed 112 people due to the fact that the building did not have any fire exits