This blazer is from the Salvation Army, and so is that necklace. Those jeans are from Plato’s Closet, and the shoes are pre-loved, too. But my shirt? My shirt is brand new, and I think it’s the start of something good.
As ya’ll know, I spilled a whole bunch of words on the Bangladesh factory a few weeks ago. I discussed some of my thoughts on the fast-fashion, and came clean about my own role in keeping the industry poisoned. Mainly, thrifting doesn’t hurt the industry, but it doesn’t fix it, either. I concluded I should try to use the money I save when thrift shopping on “items that are made by businesses that pay attention to human rights…and retailers that won’t wait for a building to collapse before they realize something is terribly wrong.”
Well, that all sounds very well and good. But in practice, I didn’t know where to begin. Would I have to start dressing like a yogi, and spending hundreds of dollars on hemp rompers?
On the very day I published that article, I came across this instagram from one of my favourite fashion-grammers, Karla Reed (that’s a thing, right? Grammers?). I always need basic tees in my wardrobe, to ground all the crazy crap I thrift, and so a few basic tees seemed a good place to start.
I did some research on Everlane, and I really liked what I found on their website. They want to be open and honest about how and where they make their clothing. However, I did find some of the phrasing on their “About” page a little ambiguous. So, I had a revolutionary idea – I emailed them. It went something like this:
…while I appreciate much of what I can find on your “About” page, I wonder if you’d be willing to provide any more specifics. First, you tout your tees as made in America, and list the majority of your offices in America, but also “seek out the best factories around the world”. What role do these global factories play? Where does the manufacturing process start and stop? I’m also pleased that you try for a “hands-on approach…to ensure a factory’s integrity. As an added assurance we also require stringent workplace compliancy paperwork.” Does this paper work ensure better working conditions, or any sort of conditions, for the employees? Safety measures, etc? More broadly, what does it mean to you for a factory to have “integrity?”
I’m very grateful to have been pointed in your direction, but this extra bit of information and detail will mean I can whole-heartedly endorse your products. Thank you, and I hope to hear from you soon!
I sent off the email, and expected some kind of automated form letter in reply. Instead, I was really impressed to get a good response from an actual person (named Sam!) within a week of my initial inquiry:
Thanks for reaching out and for the compliments. Most of your questions can be answered on the article that was released in the New York Times.
The biggest concerns around production for our team are (a) great conditions for workers and (b) high quality. As a first filter, we target facilities that are already working with other luxury brands. Our factories produce for The Row, James Perse, Prada, etc. Even so, we visit every facility to ensure that they are top-notch. While many of our products are produced in the U.S., we have decided to produce some things abroad. In sourcing, we found that the U.S. couldn’t match the quality we needed for some items. For example, silk made in the U.S. is usually quite messy in the stitching, so we decided to produce in China—a place known for silk.
We are a young company finding it important to develop a relationship with our factories and their owners. Regarding compliancy standards, we first seek out certification from SGS and follow accordingly with Labor Laws. We have been to our factories and are able to see first hand the conditions of the work place, combining that with the laws abided we do feel secure with these conditions.
Enjoy the tees and have a great week.
All the best, Sam
The NYT article Sam linked to also offered up a few more encouraging words on how Everlane selects its factories:
Mr. Preysman says Everlane has long received questions from customers “around where the products are sourced from and how we can tell that the labor is good.” It is an inexact science, he said. But he added that he looks for factories certified by independent outside organizations and has executives spend time with a factory’s owner to see if he or she “is a decent human being.”
Additionally, just a few weeks ago, Everlane placed a call for photographers on Instagram. They’re offering five all-expenses paid trips to China, and allowing these five photographers to document their newest factory in China. I like that they have nothing to hide. Satisfied with these answers, I placed an order in good conscience for two large tees – one in black, and one in white. Their v-necks start at $15, and with shipping costs to Canada, my total order came to about $45. For items that I will wear every other day until their threadbare, that’s a bargain.
While my plain white tee might be the least exciting piece in this ensemble, it certainly has the most to say.
Jeans: Plato’s Closet | $15.00 Blazer: Salvation Army | $7.99 Necklace: Salvation Army | $2.99 Shoes: Salvation Army | $5.99 Tee: Everlane | $15.00