It's becoming easier to find a bargain on the high street these days. Fashion is fast, and many consumers are desperate for discounts. However, someone will be paying the price for our cheap t-shirts and multi-buy underwear. If we're not paying a decent price for it, how on earth are the people who made a garment getting paid? Do you know who made your pants?
I can proudly say now that I know who made my pants... well, some of them at least! Quite a few pairs in my underwear drawer came from the wonderful women at Who Made Your Pants?, an ethical social business run as a co-operative entirely by women. It's not just about paying a decent wage, either.
Managing Director Becky John and her team provide an extremely caring and educational workplace to refugee women in Southampton where, as well as learning how to make pants, they learn English and gain other skills/knowledge to help them adjust to life in the UK.
The women on the production line have never made pants before and so are supported at every stage of the process, until they no longer need it. Lingerie sizing and pattern cutting needs to be precise and so this is a very careful process that they can all take ownership of once they're ready. Everyone starts on a zero hours contract which changes once they are ready for more responsibility. It's a lovely little business with a friendly family-run feel.
As well as all this, the company focuses on sustainability, too. Most of the equipment in their offices, including the sewing machines and overlockers, is upcycled. A wonderful DMU graduate kindly developed their current design with them for free. Also, not only is all their pretty lace fabric end of line stuff that is about to be discarded by the clothing industry, all their fabric waste is sent off to be used to fill cushions!
Right now, you may be thinking "this all sounds good, but what are the pants like?" I am happy to report that these lovely lace shorts are are extremely comfortable as well as gorgeous. The design of the fantastic Aimee shorts is simple, comfy and flattering. They are also machine washable, and I've heard that they stand up to this well so they'll last you a while too.
So, do you know who made your pants?
Even if you decide that what these ladies make is not for you, it really is a question worth asking. Paying a bit more for a product that has been ethically produced is good for everyone concerned, so please do make an effort to think about where your clothing came from before it reached the shelves of your local shops.