Some Thoughts on Running a Fashion Label, 6 Years After Rana Plaza
Rana Plaza was something which deeply affected both myself and Isabel when we created Hund Hund together. Isabel and I met in India while she was running a small hand embroidery factory, where both of us shared close relationships with the workers. They would share some of their most intimate points in life with us from skyping their marriages with us to us getting on a 48hr train ride to meet their newborns in their home village of Bihar. Like us, they are people with hopes and dreams, people who had family and friends that cared for and depended on them. In parallel not far from where we were there were people with the same aspirations, jobs, and cares buried beneath the rubble.
Last year at Hund Hund we had an issue with production as one of our leading factories gave our big winter slot to another (obviously larger) client last-minute, and without a new factory, we would have no pants in the upcoming winter collection. And without this vital item in our upcoming collection, we would likely go bankrupt.
We acted fast, picked up the phone and start calling everyone, flipping through old and new networks we had built. And to our utter relief what seemed like an incredible opportunity came up.
A factory in Italy offered to produce the entire collection, with delivery earlier than the original factory and at lower prices. But this sounded a little too good to be true so we dug deeper. What we discovered was that production would take place in the town of Prato where a vast number of sweatshops employ Chinese and other Asian migrants in terrible conditions, yet attach a “Made in Italy” label on their garments. So, we kept on looking and connected with some other interesting factories in Italy, but finally found a small women’s owned factory just over the border in Szczecin, Poland.
I wanted to highlight this experience, shine the light on us as being so great but to illustrate the incredible pressures you can come into as a fashion brand.
Our customers work very hard for their money, and while we try very hard to keep our prices at a fair price by excluding wholesale accounts amongst other things, ultimately there are cheaper alternatives. While some of these options carry great design teams use very nice fabrics and display stunning stores; they are part of huge multinational fashion companies. The same companies that operate in supply chains that have no respect for the environment that has given these resources in the first place nor lives of the people, less privileged than us, who make our clothes. The same kind of production which leads to incidents like the Rana Plaza collapse.
So at Hund Hund, we commit as always to working with small factories which we have a personal relationship with, who treat their works with dignity, fairness and respect. We do not squeeze every penny with partners in price negotiations but instead work together to agree on fair prices so we are not letting their workers pay the ultimate sacrifice. Our clothes reflect our values, and while they may be a little more expensive than the big fashion companies, this is because we are standing by what we believe in. Ultimately by our customers being willing to pay a little more, this extends to empowering the more ethical supply chain for a fairer way of working. If anyone tells you that as a customer, you don’t have the power to make a difference, they’re lying to you.
This week, as part of Fashion Revolution, we’re showing you some of the people who make your clothes.
Warm Regards from Berlin,
Head Hund – Hund Hund