It’s time to start paying attention to how your lingerie is made
Finding a great deal is one of life’s best little victories, but that victory is a hollow one if it comes at another person’s expense. Unfortunately, when it comes to apparel, the search for cheap, fashionable clothing is a zero-sum game. In an industry littered with examples of human rights abuses in manufacturing, it’s time to start paying attention to where our clothes, especially those we wear closest to our bodies, are coming from. Here’s why ethical undies matter, and how you can find them.
The Need for Ethical Production
In 2013, more than 1,100 garment workers in Bangladesh were killed when their factory collapsed. The factory’s owners knew before the accident that the building was unsafe, but they physically forced the frightened employees to go inside and keep working. The majority of the workers there were young women who routinely worked 14-hour days and earned less than 25 cents an hour.
Unfortunately, these incidents don’t just happen overseas, and “Made in the USA” is not a guarantee of fair and ethical production. Sweatshops are still very real, with incidents recently discovered in Los Angeles and New York. You might have thought it was funny when Piper and her friends started sewing underthings in Orange is the New Black, but in reality, prisoners have been used to sew lingerie for well-known brands including Victoria’s Secret.
Lingerie production is especially prone to poor working conditions. The delicate little frills and lacework that make bras and panties so cute require a lot of precise work to create. Some companies rely on using cheap, exploited foreign labor to make those products at super low prices.
How You Can Help
Educating yourself about the importance of ethical underwear is the first step! Here are a few ways you can make sure you’re choosing lingerie that was made in a humanitarian way
- Favor ethical brands. It’s notoriously difficult for consumers to find out whether their garments are made ethically, but finding brands that are focused on this goal certainly helps. Hanky Panky has founders who are devoted to ethical practices, and they manufacture in the US and source many of their materials from the US as well. Cosabella is manufactured in Italy, which also has strict laws protecting workers’ safety.
- Ask questions. Reach out to the brands you love! Ask for information about where and how their products are made.
- Talk with your money. Tell brands that use ethical practices that you’ll continue to shop with them because of their stance. And if you find that a favorite brand produces its lingerie in a country that tends to have unsafe working conditions, like Bangladesh, tell the company that you won’t buy its products unless it can verify that its production practices are safe.
- Spread the word. Share what you know! Post on social media to tell your friends what brands to look for when shopping, and what brands to avoid. Tag those companies in your posts so they know that their customers are paying attention.
Here at Panty Drop, we’re committed to working with brands that manufacture sustainably and ethically, like Commando, Hanky Panky, and Cosabella (available on our premium plan). Gorgeous undies made responsibly? Sign us up!