Finding ethical clothing manufacturers can be difficult if you are just starting out as a brand. From suppliers in your state or region to international suppliers, it can be difficult to determine whether or not your manufacturing partner is ethical or not. Some key aspects that make a clothing supplier ethical include if they:
- Pay their workers a living wage
- Employ lean manufacturing techniques to reduce their environmental impact
- Adhere to international manufacturing standards
- Use ethically sourced and sustainable materials
Paying workers a living wage
The clothing industry has grown exponentially recently with a number of large scale companies producing fast fashion designed to be used and discarded in increasingly quick cycles. The result of this, other than creating vast amounts of wasted clothing is that production processes have been sped up with more workers and cheaper prices. Often these cheaper prices have been made economically viable by manufacturers paying their staff wages lower than they are able to live off.
Ethical clothing manufacturers pay their employees and workers a decent wage that allows them to live more comfortably. By choosing an ethical supplier, you can help workers continue to earn a living wage.
Employing Lean Manufacturing Practices
Lean manufacturing processes can help clothing suppliers reduce the amount of wastage throughout their supply chain. The methodology employs a system of constant review in order to find and reduce problems in the supply chain process. Ethical clothing manufacturers will often employ lean manufacturing in order to help them reduce wastage through excess production as well as reduce power and electricity usage and wasted raw materials.
Adhering to International Standards
In order for a clothing supplier to be considered ethical, they must adhere to international laws and standards. Sometimes a trip to visit your clothing manufacturer overseas can help ascertain whether or not these standards are being met, while ethical suppliers will often be open and transparent about their processes and procedures. Certification from the GOTS for organic clothing manufacturing as well as approval from international working bodies can help provide brands with a level of trust and confidence that the partners they are working with are in fact ethical.
Using Ethical Materials in Production
Ethical clothing suppliers should also be using materials that are sustainable and ethically sourced. In many instances, countries like China do this by importing textiles and garment materials from neighboring countries like Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines. Garments made from organic cotton and bamboo clothing help to reduce the impact on the environment with bamboo clothing from China an ethical choice as it uses very little water and pesticides in the farming process.
There are many ways to determine whether or not your supplier is an ethical manufacturer of clothes, however the best way to find out is to open a dialogue and continue to ask questions and learn about their production processes.