Thursday, June 14, 2007

some thoughts on 'well dressed?' part 1

'Well dressed? The present and future sustainability of clothing and textiles in the United Kingdom' is an excellent report from a team at the University of Cambridge Institute for Manufacturing. It may be downloaded here.

p. 10: Hourly wages in the clothing industry by country, US$ per hour (from an ILO report, 2003)
Pakistan 0.23
Sri Lanka 0.57
India 0.71
China 0.86
Mexico 1.75
Hong Kong 5.13
Germany 10.03
USA 11.16

When I had my label, I paid my sample machinist $25-$30 per hour, and the production machinists $12-$15 per hour. (I didn't pay myself anything for design, patternmaking and cutting.) People always wondered why even one of my basic tees retailed for $80, when some other (larger) labels were selling theirs for half that (made offshore). Everything I did was made in Australia - Sydney, in fact. That's why. I have no regrets about it, though. I knew who was making the garments and in what conditions. There were no middlemen and the money went directly to those that did the work. I should note, though, that I really had no idea about any environmental issues at the time, or at least I didn't pay any attention to them. It was hard enough trying to break even - not that that's an excuse. But, once I was in the midst of it, there simply wasn't any time to try to educate myself. That's what I'm trying to do now.

p. 14: The four major environmental issues associated with the clothing sector are:
  • Energy use
  • Use of toxic chemicals
  • Release of chemicals in waste water
  • "Solid waste arising from yarn manufacturing of natural fibres, making up and disposal of products at the end of their life."
My research, of course, investigates one aspect (fabric waste) of the last one.

Speed-reading the report and the technical annex, it seems there is some excellent concrete information on the amount of fabric waste produced by the fashion industry - I need to return to this. Although this seems like a short post - well, this is a short post - I've been interrupted by three phone calls and have probably spent two hours on this, and am getting hungry.

Get the report and read it. Very informative. I'll attempt to return to it shortly.

(Oh, and I did get the progress report in today, officially two weeks late. That's progress.)

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