Conscious Fashion Consumption and Motherhood


Although contours of our lives may look different, there is something uniting about being mothers no matter where we may live in our world.

Fashion Is A Women’s Industry, From Producers to Consumers

The fashion industry is a women’s industry through and through, with mothers at its core. Women are both the chief consumers and producers, as over seventy percent of American consumer spending is driven by women. This spending by women isn’t just on clothes for themselves; for example, most American mothers spend more on clothing for their children than on their own clothes.

About eighty percent of the people who work in this industry are women. Many of these women are mothers seeking better lives for their children. They may have moved from their rural hometowns to urban areas, often leaving their children back in their village with other family members, to earn increased income for their child’s wellbeing and education. In garment factory jobs workers may be subject to pregnancy discrimination via forced pregnancy tests and termination if pregnant, a lack of breastfeeding and childcare support, long hours and workplace safety issues, wage theft, discrimination, harassment, and assault. And speaking of children, some of the people working in this industry are still children themselves.

Fashion Can Do Great Harm

Photo from World Bank blog by Sonia Jawaid Shaikh

The global fashion industry is large, as one in six people around the globe work in a job related to this industry. And just five years ago we experienced the worst industrial garment disaster in history. Over 1,000 workers died in the Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh in 2013 and over 2,000 others were injured, many of whom are not able to return to work yet receive no regular income. We now have orphans whose parents worked in the factories who are no longer able to attend school. Additional victims include the survivors who are no longer able to work and the families of victims and survivors who do not receive adequate financial compensation for their losses.

We Have The Power To Change Exploitation To Empowerment

We have the power to end this narrative of mistreating mothers and children. The DC region is incredibly wealthy, as it is host to half of the richest counties in the country within one hour of the Capitol. With all that wealth comes an opportunity to make a great impact through positive spending.

Nearly a third of our country’s retail spending takes place in the period between Black Friday and Christmas. This holiday season presents an opportunity for us to use our purchasing power for good. By only buying from places that value women and children you empower companies with good policies to grow. You also penalize bad actors, making mistreatment of women a business risk that is just too great.

Let’s educate ourselves around how mothers are treated in the workplace here and abroad, harness our collective potential as consumers to create the world that we seek, and use our consumptive power to demand change. And if you’d like to learn more check out the #VoteWithYourWallet Campaign!