Before our clothes ever arrive in our homes and wardrobes, they were already a part of many lives. From people that grow the crops and weave the fabric, to the dyers, cutters, and seamstresses, clothes go through a journey being shaped by many hands, carrying their stories along. We made sure that Savannah Morrow clothes tell great stories.
When we talk about our clothes, we often talk about the fabric, the quality of the garments, as well as the style. These are certainly important aspects. After all, Savannah Morrow puts great care into choosing and making the fabrics and we design our clothes to last a long time. Yet, none of this would be possible without the people who make the clothes, their talents, time, and knowledge.
These makers are not just a part of our brand. They are the reason why we are able to do what we do.
This holiday season, we want to thank them and invite you to learn about their stories and work, as well as the stories of garment workers around the world.
Allow us to start with that last point.
The hidden reality of garment workers
Our clothes do not just appear on the shelves and in online stores. They exist because of the workers in the garment industry. Even though the millions of workers make it possible, the contemporary fashion industry is not structured to benefit them in any way.
The reality of most garment workers is still largely not spoken about nor enough brands are taking long-lasting steps to address this.
Fashion is one of the top 5 industries linked to modern slavery. This means that practices like, child and forced labor, human trafficking, and non-paid work are deeply rooted in the industry. They also affect women significantly more, considering that women make almost 80% of all the workers in the industry. The fashion supply chains are long, complex, and opaque, which allows for many practices to stay hidden. This also allows companies to make a profit without taking the responsibility for human lives in the process.
According to Labor behind Label, the average paycheck of the garment workers, for many less than $3 a day, does not cover the essential needs, like food, rent, health care, or education. Many workers earn the minimum wage but cannot afford to live a decent life. Around 72% of workers interviewed in Bangladesh cannot afford medical treatment when they get sick or injured.
Things have only intensified further, first with the pandemic and then with the continuous interruptions in the market since. In most cases, the workers have no stable contracts, social security, or saving to fall back to when something happens. Because of this, many workers work overtime, up to 180 hours extra per month, only to make a living.
Long working hours and low pay are only one side of the story. The overwhelming number of factories around the world are poorly ventilated, old, and sometimes dangerous. In 2013, a Rana Plaza factory in Bangladesh collapsed, killing over 1100 workers and injuring many more. Though this was the biggest tragedy in the recorded history of fashion, factory fires, floods, work injuries, and deaths continue to happen in almost a decade since the Rana Plaza collapse. Women working in those factories have to face these risks, along with frequent assault and abuse. Nearly one in three female workers in the fashion industry have experienced sexual harassment in their workplace.
Embracing collaboration and partnership
Knowing the reality of the garment workers made us understand that there is no true beauty even in the prettiest garment if it came out of injustice and pain.
Right from the beginning, we knew that we do not want to contribute to this but we needed to understand the scale of the problem.
The poverty wages, insecurity, and daily risks garment workers face around the world, including the US, Canada, and European countries, are a consequence of the industry that prioritizes profit and speed over human and non-human lives. This is a system that is a result of decades of development and no single brand, no matter how big or small, can single-handedly change the industry. Complex problems call for multiple changes and collaboration.
We wanted Savannah Morrow to be a part of the solution, though the journey was certainly a long one.
After moving to the US from Australia and selling on various flea markets around LA, Savannah started this label in her garage in 2018. It was first a one-woman, then a two-women show, and we were soon looking for people who could help us make our ideas come true. We found our first partners in Mexico and Indonesia. These were women who could, because of partnerships like ours, work from home and not in the big factories. It was thanks to them that Savannah Morrow began to grow.
In those early days, we still relied on a long supply chain and many things were out of our sight and control. It took us years of investigation, learning, traveling, creating connections, and building relationships to finally work with the fabric artisans. We are very proud to be partnering directly with artisans in a small village in India, with whom we co-design and create our fabrics. Their generations-old knowledge, sustainable techniques, and incredible work allow us to bring unique textures and fabrics that you will not find anywhere else.
People that make Savannah Morrow possible
Partnering with the fabric makers was a great accomplishment. We have developed a valuable collaboration, where we learn from each other in our common request to make fashion sustainable. These wavers were just a small business when we met them but are now employing more people from the village. Working with us brings them a fair and safe earning and a chance to preserve their wavering tradition.
Yet, perhaps the greatest achievement for us was the opening of our own, in-house production studio last year. We managed to cut down a lot of middlemen and are now sewing our clothes in a small space, just across our offices in LA. We built a close-knit small team and we know these people very well. They are our closest colleagues who have elevated Savannah Morrow’s quality and style.
Our crochet partners in Peru also deserve a spotlight. The Peruvian women we work with on some designs, like those in our latest Resort ’22 collection, work from their homes in a village just outside Lima. Working with us provides them a living wage to finance the education of their children and the maintenance of their homes.
We are incredibly grateful and honored to work with all of these people. We will continue to respect and fairly compensate for their work, as well as tell their stories.
You can discover the result of their remarkable work and support them directly every time you buy from us. We are currently restocking on our Resort ’22 collection, available here.