Injustices within the fashion industry are far more common than many of us realize. An estimated 98% of women employed by the global fashion industry go to work each day and come home without enough money for proper food, shelter, or clothing. This means, daily, 39.2 million women are not paid a living wage in favor of protecting corporate profit margins and appeasing consumers with lower prices.
While societies across the globe are beginning to shine a spotlight on injustice, there are still areas of the world where unethical business practices continue to grow. One such place is the city of Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. The bustling city is home to almost five million residents, including those who are victimized by the fashion industry every day.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
A Better Way
Within the comfort of American culture, it’s easy to take the injustices of the fashion industry at face value. However, if you ventured into the city of Addis Ababa, you’d discover beautiful and resilient women who are committed to fighting injustices caused by poverty and perpetuated by the fashion industry. These are the Ethiopian entrepreneurs and artisans that Interwoven Collective partners with. To find these women, you’d drive down the main roads in the city and as the pavement of the highway narrows into a thin dirt road, you’d pass by a city dump that many, including local residents, are unaware of. Eventually, you’d arrive at a residential home. Climbing stories of white marble stairs would reveal a room full of Ethiopian women working diligently with their hands, despite many of them suffering from disabilities. Some women have children nestled beside them, some are outspoken and talkative, some shy at a newcomer’s entrance. These women vary as much as me and you, but this gathering is not unlike any other room of women.
The Interwoven team was given the opportunity to partner with Hannah, a local artisan, and team lead, to show her how to construct a new pair of earrings. Once she mastered the process, the transfer of knowledge took place as she instructed another woman to her left or right, until every person at the table was engaged in the task of making jewelry that would be sold at an ethical price to support living wages. Soon, the room of diverse women was united by a desire that transcended language, culture, and poverty: the desire to create ethical partnerships and generational flourishing. We believe that ethical production taking place within Addis Ababa, Ethiopia has the power to cause a ripple effect of change across the globe, both for consumers and women within the fashion industry. And we want to do everything in our power to champion and empower it.
Interwoven Collective: We believe that this is the better way.
Interwoven Collective exists to link our Ethiopian partners to the American marketplace to support job creation within their communities. Our role is to create more business for them, so women can keep gathering around a table to earn a living wage. Interwoven Collective prides itself in using the same far-reaching supply chains that systematically oppress women to create economic empowerment rather than perpetuate poverty for profit. We believe that the overall structure of fashion can be used to empower women who make the accessories along with the women who purchase and wear them.
Women who shop with Interwoven Collective have confidence that they are taking steps to fight generational poverty and helping to eliminate fashion injustices. Each purchase supports the production of ethical accessories and fights to uphold the dignity of Ethiopian women, one on-trend accessory at a time.
Interested in learning more about Interwoven Collective and how to support the businesses we partner with? Start shopping or head to our about page for more info and next steps.
Written by Caroline Kidd of KC Consulting