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Who Made My Clothes educates about the effects of shopping fast fashion

Who Made My Clothes educates about the effects of shopping fast fashion

Who Made My Clothes Officers, Brian Franklin, Aaron Baker, Hannah Asis and Kassi Reyna. Dana McCurdy

Who Made My Clothes educates about the effects of shopping fast fashion
October 15
16:25 2017

The routine of picking an item of clothing off a rack and purchasing it from a major retail store is second nature to many shoppers. However, a large portion of this clientele is unaware of where these clothes came from — much less the process by which they were made.

Who Made My Clothes (WMMC) is a club at UNT that focuses on bringing awareness of the worldwide sweatshop issue that lies beyond the fast fashion industry. Consumers often don’t know the impact of their purchases from major clothing corporations.

“We spread awareness on the unethical conditions labor workers face abroad specifically for the garment and textile industry,” WMMC president Hannah Asis said.

Asis was inspired to start WMMC after watching the documentary “The True Cost,” a film that gives viewers insight into the places that produce the clothing many people wear daily.

Many well-known stores use developing nations as their source of production for the millions of clothing items sold yearly.

“Truthfully, most stores within malls are unethical,” said Lauralee Penefuerte, vice president and media manager of WMMC. “H&M and Forever 21 are culprits of this.”

Because of the cheap prices, overseas sweatshops have become the No. 1 source for major stores to produce clothing. The laborers in these sweatshops often work under extremely unsafe conditions for little pay.

“U.S. companies tend to take advantage of the very relaxed policies of minimum wage in developing nations,” Asis said.

Many sweatshop workers make only $10 a month for all their labor. When they try to form unions in response to their terrible working conditions, they often are beaten and broken down in return.

According to “The True Cost,” garment workers are some of the lowest-paid employees in the world, and roughly 85 percent of them are women. Usually, these facts never even cross consumers’ minds when buying a $4 top from the mall.

Due to the massive global presence of the fashion industry, there is an equally massive presence of sweatshops in developing countries with conditions that can be unimaginably dangerous. Through the last decade, there have been cases in which these labor warehouses have collapsed and resulted in high death tolls of workers inside, such as the 2013 collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh.

WMMC’s prime goal is to bring awareness to the community — specifically in Denton — of the issues that come with fast fashion and how consumers can change their habits in order to help.

The club meets every other Wednesday, usually in Willis Library.

“Our meetings are always different,” Asis said. “Sometimes we will talk about current events. Other times we will all go to the Square and go get coffee to support the local businesses in Denton.”

The club works to teach members, as well as the community, ways to do their part in helping the issues that arise from production processes of major corporations. Local business like West Oak Coffee, Jupiter House and other small chain food places are a great way to support ethical businesses.

Those who choose to purchase fast fashion from major retailers almost certainly do not intend to support sweatshops. In fact, many shoppers are not even aware of the extent to which their dollar goes while shopping.

That’s why WWMC wants to keep their club friendly and not controversial.

“We focus on bringing awareness rather than making things super political,” WMMC event coordinator Brian Franklin said. “We want people to change their own decisions and influence how the economy is working rather than trying to push massive change and get everyone to vote because that can be very hard to do.”

Rather than attempting to effect change in international government policies, WWMC takes baby steps by reaching out to individuals solely to educate and hopefully instill even the smallest progress. While the club would love to see a worldwide revolution in the sweatshop epidemic, they believe their message will be most effective by starting at home.

“It is extremely difficult for policy change to happen without a great awareness, so that is why we start by just [bringing] awareness,” Franklin said.

Because ethically produced clothing is often more expensive and often out of consumer’s price range, secondhand stores are typically the easiest and most accessible way for consumers to minimize the negative effects of the fast fashion industry.

WWMC recently spent a Saturday volunteering at Goodwill as a group for an example of what some events are like for those considering joining.

“Secondhand stores are the best source for ethical shopping,” secretary Aaron Baker said. “Places like Plato’s Closet, Thrift Giant and Goodwill are all local secondhand stores to shop at.”

Joining a club like WMMC is a simple way to raise awareness and learn more about the process behind your favorite pair of jeans or the go-to t-shirt you always wear.

For those hoping to make a positive environmental and social effect — or just curious for a little backstory on their favorite pair of jeans or t-shirt — WMMC makes it a friendly learning experience. Follow the club on Instagram, @whomademyclothesunt, or on Facebook at “Who Made My Clothes UNT” to stay updated on meetings and events.

Featured Image: Who Made My Clothes officers Brian Franklin, Aaron Baker, Hannah Asis and Kassi Reyna hope to use the club to educate people about sweatshops. Dana McCurdy

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Grace Cottingham

Grace Cottingham

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