Activist merch has been around for decades but in the Trump era, cause t-shirts and sweatshirts increasingly (and visibly) echo an angry U.S. population. Consider the day after Trump took office in January 2017 where the Women’s March in Washington, DC, became one of the largest demonstrations in US history. With the global protests came the cheap t-shirts spotlighting every heroine who’d ever made strides for women and more feminist memes than needed fabric.
While there’s nothing wrong with toting resistance, persistence and feminism, there’s a huge problem when your feminist t-shirt is made by women slaves.
This International Women’s Day, I urge you to think of the many ways women are being hushed and underpaid in male-dominated board rooms, and globally abused in fast fashion sweatshops. And before you put on your next “Feminist AF” t-shirt, I want you to ask where that t-shirt might have come from and who made it. It probably was a woman and my bet is that she wasn’t paid a wage that made her feel like waving her feminist-empowered freak flag.
Thanks to the internet, asking brands who made your clothes has become a lot easier. You can find contact names and emails for almost any company in the world and for any PR director or sustainability lead. Not everyone will answer you, but it’s good practice in becoming more conscious and exercising your right to ask.
For International Women’s Day today, I’m launching a new collaboration with TS Designs and Free the Slaves to offer a limited-edition, 100 percent slavery-free T-shirt that is certain to be a conversation starter. The online store will be taking pre-orders for men’s and women’s shirts today until March 22nd with 100% of the proceeds ($15 from every t-shirt), going towards anti-trafficking field programs at Free the Slaves. This includes educating the vulnerable about their rights, liberating the enslaved, and helping survivors rebuild their lives through vocational training and community development.
This year’s International Women’s Day theme is “Balance for Better.” Free the Slaves says “Gender balance makes a better world possible. Modern slavery is an example of a world out of balance. More than 70 percent of people in slavery today are women and girls. Many of them make your clothes.”
The limited edition F*M#NI$T tee is made with shirts from the Where Your Clothing (WYC) line at TS Designs. They have a “dirt to shirt” fully traceable supply chain, all the way down to the farms where the cotton is grown. You can actually trace where the cotton was grown for each shirt through a unique mapping system, supporting farmers in North Carolina, Texas and New Mexico, and mill workers in North and South Carolina.
Want to support women and be a feminist truly wanting political, economic, personal, and social equality of sexes? Make better choices with who you support and use your wallet for good.
Are you thinking about how to incorporate sustainability into your designs? We work with designers to provide them with a general overview of sustainable manufacturing principles— with particular expertise in apparel. Based on your needs, we can advise on both specific sourcing requirements or basic understanding of production for soft or hard goods. Book a consult with us to learn more.