British Lingerie And Feminism In Manufacturing
Posted on 23 September 2015
So most of you who follow Neon Moon on social media will have seen my rant on one of the manufacturing photos, and it has in-turn inspired this blog post about Neon Moon being a British Lingerie brand.
Does it really matter who makes your clothes? I think we all know what answer most of us would say, but saying and doing are completely different things. We all know right from wrong, but are you telling me if brands that are notorious for their use of sweatshops across the world, had a £1 sale on every item, people wouldn't buy their garments?
Instead of asking brands to lower their prices, why not ask them to raise them? This might seem counter intuitive but it actually isn't, and this is why. There is a high probability that all the garments you own are in part, or in full, sewn by a woman. In countries like China, India, and Bangladesh women are literally sewing lingerie right this second. Garments are not put into a machine, or down a conveyor belt, press a few buttons and bam you've got yourself 1000 bras - if only! Instead every single bead, stitch, label, fabric panel is hand stitched on - literally. That kind of hand workmanship is definitely worth more if you wanted something like that done here in the United Kingdom. But for some reason, because they're "somewhere on that part of the map *waves hands in one direction*" and because they don't speak English, probably have no means to pay for a laptop or smart phone to share about their experiences online, and because they are brown/black, they aren't considered important to the fashion world, and especially not over our European privilege. And the worst thing is, things have only got worse for these women with the introduction of "fast fashion".
Fast fashion - definition - the stuff people probably only wear once and give to a charity shop. This would be a typical fast fashion lingerie brand: A brand notices their competitor sells some bra at £12, so they want to retail theirs at £10. They get in touch with a factory and tell them X brand is selling it for £12, and for their business they want to sell it for £10, so they expect the factory to drop their prices otherwise they'll take their business to another factory. This factory's thinking shit, I really need this scumbag European brands business, so not only now do they need to source really cheap materials, but also I need to make pay cuts to the women who are sewing the garments, and work them for longer because all of these inexpensive orders mean I need to take on more business to cover my costs and make a profit. This factory's aim is to get all costs to under £2 a bra - that's right, fabric, trimmings, custom labels, manufacturing and packaging/delivery, to under £2 a bra. So now the brand sells it on for like £10, and drops it to £8 in sales (fast fashion remember!). So the brand is definitely winning, the customers are winning in terms of price, and the only ones losing here are the ones doing the manual labour - the factory and all of its employees, and all of the employee's families and friends. Asking a brand to raise their prices is now starting to make sense right?
So, why do I ask you does it matter who makes your clothes? In my eyes Neon Moon couldn't be a feminist lingerie brand without being intersectional. To me it doesn't matter whether the woman can or can't speak English, whether she is brown or black, she is still very valid, and should be at the forefront of all lingerie brands minds.
When I have chats with people who put profits over people, they highlight that I should be manufacturing abroad, not only for buying power but because I would get significantly higher profits. Neon Moon's lingerie is priced so it can afford the high costs of manufacturing in the United Kingdom. I personally couldn't sleep at night if I knew my brand was the reason a woman got beaten for sewing too slow, for a factory collapse due to unsafe conditions, or for a factory forcing its employees to work until the order was completed, or for a child to attach labels to my lingerie - just writing this down in this blog is pissing me off. This is why Kickstarter was literally so important for Neon Moon's survival because there would have been no way in hell I could've manufactured here otherwise.
I guess I'm passionate about being a Feminist Lingerie brand in all aspects because this subject might be more closer to home than you might think. My mum. My mum grew up in Morocco and was destined for a life in a factory - that's just what women did in that generation. Luckily my mum has always been a headstrong force that fought to live her life for her, so she came to England and had me, hi! It is literally crazy to me that if she had just thought, you know what, I don't like cold weather, I'd prefer African heat, I'll stay here, my life could be destined for a factory with possible conditions I outlined above. It is literally unthinkable to me, but that's how close it could have been. Brown and black women who don't speak English matter just as much as I do as an English speaking Arab in Europe.
Neon Moon is always going to be different because a woman of colour is running it. I am an intersectional feminist, who has the final say on everything Neon Moon related. There will never be "let's embrace this kind of woman over here, but ignore that kind of woman abroad" way of thinking here. Neon Moon is a Sweatshop Free Zone. Being able to put a face and a name of a woman sewing Neon Moon is priceless. The amount of laughs we had was insane! It solidified the cost to me of manufacturing in the United Kingdom when I was around just a happy, positive, and safe environment. That positive vibe definitely transcends throughout Neon Moon on a daily basis. I hope you enjoy these photos of the women making Neon Moon lingerie. Neon Moon is a British Lingerie brand, and very proud of it. Neon Moon is a Feminist Lingerie brand, and very proud of it too. We can't have equality on just one half of the world. People over profits.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments section!