Let’s Get Ethical: How Fashion Can Save Lives

Manhattan, New York
United States

Who doesn’t love being stylish? Wearing the hottest trends? And shopping for the best outfit? It is very common to automatically think about stopping by your fave store for the perfect clothes like an express drive through, but for clothes, which is why posing the question, “who made my clothes?” may seem very odd.

Free The Slaves, an international organization against the modern practice of slavery, invited us to participate in their event Fashion for Freedom at the Mezzanine in Lower Manhattan. At this event I learned about slavery within the fashion industry such as the corrupt use of fabrication workers who are paid way less than minimum wage, slaves who endure continuous mental, emotional, and physical abuse, and slaves who are commonly institutionalized in the factory location. Unfortunately, many of our beloved clothing brands such as Forever 21 and H&M are just two of the many companies who use foreign workers for their products, many of which are paid unreasonable wages and are denied basic needs in order to efficiently produce mass quantities of the products we use, like the t-shirt you may be wearing right at this moment


In order to explain conscious consumerism, the act of thorough purchasing decisions which impact the environment, we were joined by a panel of exceptional individuals who are working relentlessly to abolish unethical practices. Including, Safia Minney the keynote speaker and founder of People Tree, along with Rebecca Ballard (social justice advocate), Aaron Halegua (lawyer), Maurice Middleberg (moderator).


I am also honored to share the incredible story of the 2018 Fashion for Freedom Award Winner, Flor Molina. From arriving to Los Angeles into a corrupt factory, fighting through the abuse of the factory owner, including being completely restricted from the outside world, escaping the factory for freedom. In her attempt to escape her imprisonment, however, she was constantly followed and harassed by the friends and actual owner to a city south of LA which she fled to. Finally, the FBI was able to protect her from the constant harassment, enabling her to move past the nightmare and become a social justice warrior for workers within the retail industry. Her courageous story immersed the audience into her audacious journey of self recovery and legal reform for human rights acts like SB657 & AB15, which protect workers from unjust treatment and protects their rights. Thanks to women like her, unions, and supporters, the practice of ethical work culture is reinforced within our communities. Now it is our turn to not only give ourselves the option to browse ethically made clothing -which is trendy- and to fight for the enslaved individuals who are still mass producing clothing, today.


The Fashion for Freedom event was the perfect event to learn about conscious consumerism within our community and the entire world. It also reminded us that fashion can be as ethical as it is stylish. Next time you are searching for that perfect outfit make sure to visit ethical stores of your preference. A better source of goods can also be DoneGood the online retailer for millions of ethically made products for us! It is totally okay to know where your clothes comes from!

Thank you Free The Slaves for being such an educational platform on a taboo topic that we need to know about! If you would like more information about Free the Slaves, the event, and on how to become an advocate, visit this website!