orking every day for an ethical and sustainable lifestyle brand, I am more in touch with the term “socially conscious” than most. I understand it isn’t a commonly used term, yet hot topics around here are ethical style, Artisan collaboration, sustainability, and impact. Not to mention the real life stories that make the term very real to me and our company. It’s quite shocking how little people consider their connection to the fashion industry and what horror is often behind the products.
My heart burns seeing footage that is in the documentary “The True Cost,” which is a must watch (available online or on Netflix). This documentary talks all about issues of social consciousness. It addresses the affects of a fast-fashion industry employing workers in deplorable conditions, and paying them only $2 per day to make clothes that retail for $15, $20, $30, even $40. This is considered a LACK of social consciousness. It shines light on an appalling and disgusting blind eye turned to the affect that production has on people.
This film also shows a lack of responsibility to our planet, and the precious lives living on it. This is the norm in our modern world. In more developed nations, we expect to get a good bargain. Meaning we expect to purchase basic clothing, jewellery and other goods for the cost of 2 hours wage, yet people in developing nations have to work 10 grueling days to just break even on $20.00. Often these workers are leaving their children to family members to work long hours in sweat shops, surrounded by harmful chemicals, and in crowded unsafe buildings. The environmental affect of fast-fashion is enormous. We often don’t consider the toxins and chemicals it takes to make clothes, and the effect it has on water quality around these factories, creating illness in surrounding villages. We often don’t think about the many landfills full of clothes when we go to purchase a new sweater. So what does “socially conscious” mean? By definition from Quest sources, Socially Conscious is…
“Social consciousness, or social awareness, is defined as consciousness shared by individuals within a society. It essentially means to be conscious or aware of the problems within a society or community.”
So this means thinking, becoming aware, researching and taking a closer look into what is going on in our society’s communities, not just where we live, but where our products come from.
The mindset of ethical brands is focused on social consciousness.
We take into consideration the individuals that make our products, we think deeply about their culture, not just “what can they offer me and how little can I pay them?” It is a relationship and dedication that we create with Artisans to work with them, honouring the culture, traditions, and unique skillset of each individual. We view them with dignity and value, while also keeping their community and the impact of creation of goods incredibly environmentally friendly. This takes attention and focus to curate items that have a small footprint, that reuse, recycle and restore.
At Mango + Moose we always have this in our dialogue when curating a product. What material can we use? What is accessible? Often we use recycled oil drums, precious stones that are found in the area, or repurposed leather, horn or bone from butchers. It feels very much like one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. Beauty from ashes as we like to call it. The most beautiful part about being socially conscious means we empower an Artisan with work. That’s by far the most beautiful part.
When we focus on conscious creation, others have well paid, long term labour founded on principles of trust, respect and honour. Ten times out of ten there is no negative effect, only positive growth, empowering Artisans to make an income and support their families and keep their kids in school.
So social consciousness is key. It is not only thinking of retail value and making money, it’s also about respect, honour and love. It is honouring those above yourself and truly wanting a better and brighter future. But that can only happen when we join hands and work together.
“Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.” ― Anna Lappe
There are so many companies that are doing it right; you just have to find them. I never knew they existed until I searched. And believe me they are beautiful, they are growing and they are filled with the vision, power and drive to change this industry. I encourage you open your eyes, open your heart, and think twice about your purchases. Think about who you are supporting, not just what you are getting.