Detail of a work by Thornton Dial at the Met Breuer
when the truth eludes you
What do you do when the truth eludes you? When you just can’t get the unvarnished truth, when it seems to be almost hiding from you, when you suspect that there’s actually some truth on both sides?
This is the situation I recently found myself in, when I got in between a small, emerging fashion brand based in the United States and a small manufacturer based in Nepal. Here’s a condensed version of the story that grew rapidly and became relatively big, fast.
While scrolling through my Instagram feed last week, I came upon a picture of a small group of Nepalese women, holding signs urging a fashion brand to, essentially, pay up.
The text accompanying the picture said that the brand had ordered, received, and had been selling garments on-line, garments for which the women who made them, presumably the women in the picture, had been waiting for payment in full, for a long time.
These kinds of pictures float through my feed all the time and fairly often, I repost them. I don’t do so mindlessly. I read the accompanying text, pay attention to which brand, designer, or manufacturer is being accused of what. I do some research myself, or I make sure I know and can trust those who have, and I take into account how well documented the alleged, egregious behavior is.
Calling people, companies, politicians, organizations, and even governments out is one aspect of social media I believe in.
I believe also that one has to be careful in the way they do the “calling out.” I did, and still do feel fine about reposting the Nepalese women’s post. I have no problem pointing out that too often this is how the business of fashion, especially fast fashion, works and the kinds of things it’s guilty of.
Go to a poor, “third world” country, find a manufacturer who works fast and cheap, don’t ask too many questions about how the women are treated and paid, and you have yourself a “relationship.”
If you want, you can even “greenwash” the situation.
You can tell your customers that every aspect of manufacture is done ethically and sustainably, the workers are housed in nice dorms, in the lovely countryside, the