Some days, it begins at seven-thirty in the morning: sixteen hours crammed into a small room, suffocating in heat and dust and the constant whirr of sewing machines. The supervisor barks an insult and lands a hefty slap across the nearest head, watching the hands on the clock shudder. Garments are hurriedly pieced together while the building slowly falls apart. This is the routine that colours each day, every day, in exchange for a wage that barely suffices to feed a family.
This is not our story. On April 24 of 2013, when the eight-storey Rana Plaza in Bangladesh succumbed to the cracks in its floors and walls, the fissions in the foundations of the fashion industry were thrust into the limelight. Since then, we’ve come to realise that much of the clothing we wear is coming at a cost far greater than what’s on the price tag – it comes at the expense of people and the planet. It is unfair, unsafe and unclean, and it needs to change.
So, here at The Fabric Social, we’re challenging the status quo. We want to write a different story.
Ours begins in Assam, Northeast India. Srishti NGO are The Fabric Social’s local partners here in Sivasagar, an ex-insurgent held region previously controlled by the United Liberation Front of Assam. Our weavers are also social justice warriors, and the money you pay for The Fabric Social’s products goes directly into their pockets. There’s no middleman in Kolkata, keeping all the income for himself.
The talented weavers in Assam help The Fabric Social’s flagship fabric come into being. Our eri silk and khadi cotton is chemical-free and breathable, and, unlike polyester, doesn’t take 200 years to decompose. In fact, it can go in your compost bin once it’s too well-loved, keeping waste out of landfill. It’s also unlike conventional silk, because no eri worms are harmed in the extraction process.
From Assam, our fabric is delivered to be dyed in Kolkata by Sasha World Fair Trade. Sasha support the livelihoods of artisans who have suffered most from the proliferation of machine-made goods. As a Guaranteed Member of the World Fair Trade Organisation – Asia, and a founding member of the Fair Trade Forum – India, the women of Sasha are a sisterhood who seek to uplift and support each other as a collective.
We take our fabric and transform it into the gorgeous products in our store today, many of which have been designed by our Melbourne-based designer, Ally Deam. We love Ally’s aesthetic because she designs for the modern Australian woman – her style is contemporary, androgynous, and minimalist. With her patterns, Ally also prizes the handiwork and effort of the women who have woven and dyed our eri silk and khadi cotton blend, making sure as little as possible goes to waste during the tailoring process.
And that’s where you come in. You are just one of the seven billion people on this earth, but when you shop at The Fabric Social, you are making a difference. When your money comes to us, we put it back into our business so that our partners can continue their work and continue generating income, giving them the chance to save and plan for a future plan.
Our artisans are our priority. They come first, even if it means that we have to sacrifice our own cut of the revenue.
At The Fabric Social, we’re giving the power of business back to the people who make your clothes. We’re also giving power to you, as a consumer, because you get to show what you believe in with your spend. You can also be part of our story - a story about long-term, sustainable change for women who are victims of armed conflict, displacement, insecurity and poverty.