Think about the hands who made your ‘must-haves’

Leah Newhouse, Reporter

Made in China. Made in India. The countries where clothing is made is evident, but there is another story about the hands who make these products.

Twenty -dollar jeans may make your butt and bank account look good, but there is a caveat that may change your decision of where you are willing to spend your money. This is that only 10 percent of the clothes in your closet were made by workers being paid enough money to support his or her family while working in a safe environment, according to Elizabeth Cline, author of “Overdressed: The Shockingly High Price of Cheap Fashion.”

Instead of paying unethical companies to mistreat their employees by paying them below minimum wage in a hostile factory, there is a better way to spend your money. That is to buy fair trade garments and textiles which are produced by safe companies who pay their workers the amount they deserve.

Unlike fair trade businesses, many global brands pay their employees under minimum wage for ungodly-like hours. This is an unfair sacrifice for people trying to make a living and supporting his or her family when they are only being paid a small amount of money.

In October of 2013 the Institute for Global Labor and Human Rights accused the clothing brand Gap Inc. of paying Bangladeshi workers less than 25 cents per hour to work for 100 hours a week, according to

If it surprises you that the jeans you are wearing were made by low-paid workers, you should be prepared to know that most of the clothes you own were produced in a sweatshop located in a developing country. These sweatshops are sometimes built poorly and can lead to destruction that could have been prevented.

The most fatal collapse occurred in Dhaka, Bangladesh on April 24, 2013. Rana Plaza building fell and was destroyed which killed 1,134 people and injured thousands more. This building contained five factories that produced clothing for 29 different global brands, including J.C. Penney and the Children’s Place, according to

On the other hand, fair trade allows their employees to work in a safe, clean environment.

The brand by Tavi works under fair trade principles. This clothing brand provides their workers with a lunch everyday, regular health checks and special treatment for women who are pregnant, according to Center for Global Impact. You can purchase byTavi products at Center for Global Impact located on 135. You can also buy other fair trade products at Global Gifts on Mass Ave.

Not only are fair trade workers given benefits, they are paid much more for the hard work that they put into making products.

According to “An Introduction to Human Geography: The Cultural Landscape,” a garment worker in Haiti producing clothes for the U.S. market is paid less than 1% of the retail price. On average, fair trade pays their employees ⅓ of the price.

So, the next time you wander into Forever 21 to buy a $1.50 camisole, think about the hands who made them. You can either make the decision to support a sweatshop with slave-like conditions or help a more caring business that nurtures their employee’s with providing good health and a good check.