MAKING OUR T-SHIRT ETHICALLY

Designing and ordering t-shirts is something that we have become so detached from. Just by clicking around online and placing an order, it is seen as a quick, easy and cheap task. This convenience, however, does come with consequences. It’s become so second-nature to take advantage of this seemingly simple process, that we don’t always stop to think about why producing that t-shirt can be done so quickly and at such a low cost.

The reality: the quickest way to get something done isn’t always the most effective or ethical. Let’s explore why that is and how we did things a bit differently.

THE TRADE-OFFS OF CONVENIENCE

As we’ve explored in other articles and addressed in our connection projects, the fashion industry is often a hectic and unfriendly place for workers and for the environment. In exchange for quick turnaround times and cheap prices, consumers and companies benefit while workers and the planet suffer.

ANIMA is a small start-up, so it would be in our best economic interest to produce t-shirts in this seemingly economical way. It is, however, against our moral code to participate in such an exploitative practice. After all, we’ve made enough connections by now that we should be able to figure out a more conscious and effective way to go about doing this.

Here’s what we came up with.

THE POWER OF CONNECTION (ONE + ONE = ANIMA)

Instead of relying on sweatshops and unfair practices, we wanted to make t-shirts only using the connections we already had. Our two team members, Sofie and Denisse, started to collaborate. Being that Sofie was in the Netherlands and Denisse was in Mexico, they had to communicate via WhatsApp. In addition to distance, there was a language barrier to work through as well. Denisse is learning english and Sofie is working on her spanish. 

These may seem like difficulties, but they turned it into an opportunity to learn more about each other. Using translators, charades and text-to-speech software (and lots of laughter), Denisse and Sofie were able to collaborate and finalise the design. The next step now was to actually make the shirts.

There is a union of seamstresses near Chiapas that ANIMA has connected with who make really beautiful textiles and clothes. Denisse got in touch with these women and pitched them the idea for the t-shirts. As it turned out, the women were more than capable of hand-stitching the design to the front of the shirt. In a matter of days, the t-shirts were made and ready to be worn.

By slowing down and  focusing on the value of collaboration, the end result is a t-shirt that is made in an eco-friendly, efficient and fair way. Rather than obsessing over the quickest production time or the lowest cost, placing value in connection leads to better outcomes for everyone involved. What we ended up with was a t-shirt that is both high-quality and unique. It is not something that can be mass-produced, but rather something that was made through a labour of love. Each step of the process was humanised and our connections came together to make a t-shirt that is good for the environment, for the people and looks good when you wear it.