Fashion Revolution Week is a call for better environmental and humanitarian practices in the global fashion industry. Much of this huge industry is opaque, exploitative and environmentally damaging. On April 24th, 2013, the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh, which housed clothing factories for some of the world’s largest fashion brands, collapsed. 1,138 people died and another 2,500 were injured, making it the fourth largest industrial disaster in history.
The fashion industry is also one of the major polluting industries in the world, as the production and distribution of the crops, fibers, and garments used in fashion pollute the water, air, and soil. The individuals making fast fashion to match the demands of consumers are often working in uncomfortable, unhealthy and down-right dangerous conditions, not to mention for meager pay. We desperately need change.
Throughout Fashion Revolution Week (and beyond!) we will be talking about why this issue is so important and what you can do about it. We want fashion to become a force for good and believe that positive change can happen if we all think differently about fashion and demand better.
In honor of our commitment to the principles of fair trade and transparency, we want to share with you the life cycle of a bag, from is humble start as sheep’s wool, until it reaches the consumer!
Life Cycle of an MZ Bag
Each MZ bag begins with raw wool from sheep raised in the state of Oaxaca. The MZ artisans either purchase wool that has already been spun into yarn, or spin it themselves. The wool used in the making of every single Indigo Diamond Backpack has been processed and spun by hand by Ludivina. This entails washing it with a local soap root called amole, carding it, finally spinning it into yarn and then winding those into skeins on the spinning wheel. Once the yarn has been washed again, it’s ready to be dyed.
As the name implies, the Indigo Diamond Backpack is made using natural indigo dye. Ludivina is an expert in handling the tricky indigo pigment and it's dyeing process, a knowledge passed down from generations. She starts by grinding the indigo into a fine dust and then adding it to a large pot along with wood ash, an alkaline needed to help the indigo transform into a dye. This is left for a couple weeks to process, then lime juice is added, and finally the preparation is ready. Ludivina knows just how long to dye things for, and in what order, in order to achieve the different shades of blue needed for the Indigo Diamond design.
Once the yarn has been dyed and washed (again!), it’s time to weave. The bi-peddle upright loom is meticulously prepared and then the weaving of the wool panel commences. When the wool panel is complete, it’s sent to a dedicated leather worker.
MZ works with two different leather artisans. Juan Antonio is based here in Oaxaca, and Fernando is based in Guadalajara. While the majority of the MZ artisans live in Oaxaca, we work with Fernando because he has access to different types of leather and uses different techniques. All the bags from our Lujo Collection are completed by Fernando.
When a small batch of bags are complete, Fernando ships them to our headquarters in California. When you place an order on our website, we package up your bag with care and send it on to it’s new loving home. From there, you give each bag a new life, taking it on trips and adventures that we couldn’t even dream of!
Without you, we wouldn’t be able to offer this work, which enriches the lives of the incredible MZ artisans and allows them to continue to carry on with their traditional craft. Each conscious consumer that purchases one of our bags is playing an integral part in the life cycle of the product and supporting the individual who made it, all while having a minimal footprint on the planet.
We commit to practicing complete transparency in our production process. We encourage YOU to demand greater transparency from the brands you shop from by asking, “Who made my clothes?” Show your clothing (or accessories) label, use the hashtag #whomademyclothes to find out, and then make consumer choices based on that info. Together, we CAN bring greater awareness and positive change.