Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Thing Is,...

    The chain of human persons required to bring the clothing you and I wear to stores over the world, and sell it to us, is a long one indeed.   So, lets start at the very beginning.
    Farmers and ranchers who grow cotton, flax, and silk, and ranchers who grow sheep, cattle, And all kinds of ranch grown fur bearing animals, from rabbits to minks.  And ranchers who grow ostriches, peacocks and other birds coveted for their plumage; all these people stand at the beginning point of this chain.  And remember that these people are none of them working alone,  they employ others who are just as involved in this nascent process.
    Once raised, their goods are shipped to other locations. In the case of textiles, to factories where the raw goods are turned into thread.  Very likely that thread is them packed up again to be shipped to a factory somewhere to be made up as fabric.  And again, none of these people, other than the truck drivers, work alone.
    At factories where cloth is made, possibly hundreds of people will be there tending to the machines that create the cloth that will one day be on a rack somewhere. waiting for you to buy it.
    Often there is another layer of shipping at this point, as undyed fabrics get sent to other facilities where they get dyed, or printed.
    Designers get their moment at this point, while they pore over stacks of swatches looking for just the right colors and textures, at just the right price to realize the design.
    Only then do finished textiles finally make it to the point where construction begins.  But its important to add at this position on the journey, the makers of zippers, velcro, snaps, hooks and eyes, and buttons, millions of buttons.  There are other notions produced and used every day that we don't think about. Non woven interfacing, false horsehair braid, narrow pieces of plastic to keep collars looking sharp, all these things need to be made, and gathered together to create a shirt.  And since most garment factories work on a piece work system, upwards of a dozen people will have been responsible for the shirt being completed.
    Once garments are assembled they get packed again, and shipped probably overseas to a warehouse somewhere.  Then they will be picked up and shipped yet again, to the warehouse for some clothing retailer.  And shipped even once more till they are finally at a shop.  Those clothes must be unpacked, checked for damages, and readied for the shop floor, where sales people will stand ready to help customers make their decisions.
    So, when you look at clothing in this light, its readily apparent that literally hundreds of people are required to make, and get to you, the customer, a single piece of clothing.  So, next time you're carping about how much stuff costs, remember that all those unseen people have lives too, just like you. and they deserve to be compensated for their labors in our behalf.  It is a sad fact, though that the vast majority of those people are not given the wage they deserve.

No comments:

Post a Comment