Bangladesh’s ready-made garment sector has achieved impressive growth
Textile Focus wanted to know what's behind the idea of our Public-Art-Shirts and conducted a short interview with Michaela Strotmann, Founder Ethical Made.
Please tell me the Journey of ‘Ethical Made’ Brand?
Michaela: The textile industry causes 1.2 billion tons of CO2 every year – more than international flights and cruises combined. However, hardly anyone wants to wear the latest fashion trends – i.e., fast fashion.
The more important that there are more labels like Ethical Made that want to be part of a revolution in the fashion world with sustainable and creative concepts.
Ethical Made combines fashion, art, and sustainability – and presents the works of international designers and artists on unique public art t-shirts. This makes art visible not only to an exclusive audience in the museum, but also to a larger number of people in the public space.
Our motto is ‘Wear a Story. Wear Art!’
We’re empowered to change the textile industry socially, ecologically, including through membership in the Alliance for Development and Climate, the Alliance for Sustainable Textiles and 1% for the Planet. In addition, we are involved in a climate forest protection project in cooperation with PLANTED for the reforestation of a mixed forest in Germany.
Ethical Made plant a tree for every single one of our Charity T-Shirts sold
Together with the alliance members, Ethical Made works on improvements in relation to living wages, prohibition of child labor, workers’ rights, health and safety, environmental protection, and the exclusion of toxic chemicals.
What inspired you to be in this Fashion Industry?
Michaela: It is estimated that around 150 billion new items of clothing are now produced annually. This is roughly 20 new items of clothing for every single person worldwide. Every week, new trends in poor quality, which are worn an average of 7 times before they are either broken or forgotten in the wardrobe, are brought onto the market.
Cheap offers have meanwhile degraded clothing to disposable goods. We want to change that and create lovingly designed “the most beautiful thing.” Everyone knows the t-shirt that one would like to wear every day. That is exactly our goal. Fashion allows you to express your personality and everyone is unique in their own way.
Therefore, in our opinion, fashion does not go together with mass-produced goods and requires individuality.
How are you maintaining sustainability for your Brand?
Michaela: Ethical Made strives to continuously integrate sustainability into our business, using innovative ways to make our products while minimizing our environmental footprint, improving the lives of our employees and people in the communities in which the company operates.
We are involved at every stage of our supply chain, build long-term relationships with our partner factories and suppliers, and maintain an innovative and transparent corporate culture. In this way we constantly encourage ourselves to really make a difference.
If you choose ethical fashion, you are not only acting environmentally conscious, but also socially. With a clear conscience that you will not harm the environment, other people, or animals with your purchase. We want to perceive the entire value chain of our product, operate sustainably, build long-term relationships and continuously improve every single step.
Our production respects the environment, is transparent and authentic. We stand for sophisticated fashion, in the manufacturing process of which not only fragments and individual sections are considered under fair and ecological aspects, but the entire process – from start to finish.
What is your Product range?
Michaela: As part of the new Ethical Made time capsule “Wear a Story – Wear Art!” once a month, on the first Monday, a new public art shirt is added to the online shop.
It’s about drawing, graphics, painting, as well photography whose technique and aesthetics cover a wide spectrum. The story about the artwork is printed on the inside of the t-shirt and represents a new form of storytelling.
All products are produced fairly, are made of 100% cotton (organic) and are vegan. The artwork is transfer printed with water-based printing inks – free of toxins, free of animal ingredients, biodegradable.
The Shirts can be ordered online in the styles Essential, Relaxed and Oversized and cost 50 euros per piece and work of art. The Time capsule is available in Germany only and will reach other markets over the course of 2022.
As you are making garments from Bangladesh, what is your observation about Bangladesh?
Bangladesh’s ready-made garment sector has achieved impressive growth and transformation over the past decade, overcoming significant obstacles along the way. Today, however, it faces a new set of challenges, amid a global pandemic and a shifting global apparel-sourcing market.
In the years ahead, the industry will need to embrace a more holistic transformation, in partnership with manufacturers, international buyers, worker representatives, the government, and other stakeholders.
To do so, they will need to build deeper, truly strategic partnerships, while pushing to overcome the past decades’ deflationary dynamics in global apparel retail markets.
What is Ethical Made’s relationship with stanley/stella?
Michaela: We are convinced that it is possible to produce fairly and ethically in Asia, especially in Bangladesh if it is done right – by respecting the people who made the clothes. For this reason, and many more reasons we are in partnership with the manufacturer STANLEY/STELLA.
In Dhaka, their strong teams, which consists entirely of Bangladeshis, inspects the partner factories daily – all certified, audited by the Fair Wear Foundation, of which STANLEY/STELLA is an accredited member.
Additionally, we only select factories which comply with ILO (International Labor Organization) standards and which are committed to a process of continuous improvement of the working conditions of their employees – therefore, STANLEY/STELLA is the perfect match for Ethical Made.
Any message to the global Fashion Industry?
Michaela: We want to protect what we love – our planet! We want our earth to remain just as beautiful for future generations as we experience it today.
Clothes could have more meaning and longevity if we think less about owning the latest or cheapest thing and develop more of a relationship with the things we wear.
Thank you Michaela and good luck with your endeavor. You totally deserve it!