Before launching a label of my own, I would often be overwhelmed and confused by the continual claims to 'ethical fashion' by the brands that surrounded me. I always found myself asking "but what defines 'ethical'?".
Being able to ask questions is one of the most important starting points on a journey towards supporting ethical fashion movements. The #whomademyclothes movement has caused waves within the fashion industry, prompting the consumer to ask those difficult questions and demand transparency with the answers.
From what I had been told, our small factory in Indonesia ticked all the boxes in regards to ethical manufacturing and we knew other brands personally who could also vouch for their standards. I was pleased by this but it wasn't enough for me. I knew it was important to see the factory myself, meet the owner of the factory and team who would make Sukoo become possible.
In the May prior to launching (November), My partner and I flew to Bali to meet the makers and enjoy a holiday on the side. I met the owner of the factory for coffee and we chatted about my upcoming collection and plans. We got to know each other and I was already put to ease as I came to know her own personal ethics. Later, she took me to the factory. I met all the staff who were working that day and was able to watch the many stages of production unfold before me. The staff were happy and had been working along side the owner for many years. The factory was well ventilated, clean, safe and eco-aware.
The questions continued and we asked about pay, insurance, holidays and religious celebrations, overtime etc. We came to discover that our staff are paid a living wage which is well above the minimum wage, they are offered paid sick leave, religious ceremonies are frequent and honoured, during busy periods paid overtime is offered but never enforced. Health insurance is paid on top of wage to all staff. The factory also employees a full time cleaner and handy man to ensure the factory conditions remain up to standard.
It was always my intention to visit the factory yearly but Covid 19 had other plans. It is important to us to continue building upon these relationships and even though we didn't make another visit happen, I have formed a close relationship with our factory owner. We share life news and chat, allowing for not just a business relationship to form but a personal one. It really feels like we are all learning together, as we ask more in-depth questions regarding sustainable practices and seek to find the answers and improve our practices as a team. We look forward to many more visits to our factory over the years to come.
As always, with transparency at the core of our ethos, we would always show these visits on our social media channels and ensure the consumer also gains the same level of trust in our makers that we have.
We are an open book. If you have any questions regarding the ethics of Sukoo, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org