Equity. A 6 letter word. Appears simple but it’s highly complex in its definition.
You can haul out Black’s Law Dictionary for a lengthy legal definition. You can reflect on the historic Courts of Equity and their ability to grant equitable relief. You can recall the favourite “Clean Hands” legal maxim too.
You can see equity as the valuation in corporate investment or closer to home accrue home equity.
But what does this have to do with a Canadian womxn owned microbusiness focused on increasing the understanding of the law and Canadian legal history through creative activist based gender-neutral casual apparel design? A lot.
When Lady Justice Apparel™ began, we decided to foster and develop as much as possible an equitable supply chain. Examining equity issues within the casual apparel supply chain. It was eye opening.
Every wonder why some t-shirts and apparel items are priced so low?
Many apparel companies producing t-shirts blanks are manufactured offshore. Keeping labour costs low. In some cases, keeping their labour cost extremely low. In turn, the lower production costs widens the profit margin for apparel companies.
In 2013, The Globe and Mail’s article “Spinning tragedy: The true cost of a T-shirt investigated the working conditions after the collapse of the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh. Since the Joe fresh label was produced there the collapse and working conditions made headlines in Canada. Women working for $2.00 or less a day in unsafe factories. It’s an event mostly forgotten now.
But when you know better, you're supposed to try to do better. That’s what we set out to do.
Advocating for Equity in Our Supply Chain
First, we educated ourselves about Worldwide Responsible Accredited Production (WRAP) principles. WRAP is an unbiased independent non-profit team of social compliance experts. They promote lawful, ethical, humane and safe manufacturing in apparel, footwear and other sewn product. We examined their WRAP principles.
Second, we learned how to advocate and ask our suppliers for details on their blanks.
Third, we sharpened our researching skills as tracking down manufacturer information can be difficult.
What were the results?
When we started sourcing suppliers. We were surprised some suppliers had no idea how or where their blank t-shirts came from. Some even refused to answer questions about their supply chain.
Many suppliers hadn’t heard about WRAP principles and wanted to learn more. We were only too happy to share on the WRAP principles.
Others were surprised we cared. Reflecting the sentiment, “didn’t we want to triple profits using cheap cotton t-shirts?”
Each time, we took a few moments to explain and advocate for why it was important for a womxn owned microbusiness to find out as much as possible about the garment’s supply chain.
Remember, those women working for $2.00 or less a day?
Since Lady Justice Apparel™ focuses on legal themed and primarily gender neutral apparel. We wanted to ensure every person purchasing a Lady Justice Apparel™ garment, especially customers involved in the legal community, could wear one of our designs knowing it wasn’t made by sweatshop or child labour.
Also, as a womxn owned microbusiness we do not support manufacturers engaging in economic practices that harm women, children and equity seeking groups.
Yes, that means we make a little less money. But it also means Lady Justice Apparel™ can be proud of what we do.
So, next time you are buying a t-shirt or supposedly custom t-shirt for between $10 to $30, you may want to ask the company about its supply chain.