We believe that together we can have a lasting impact on the eradication of extreme poverty by employing people fairly. We also believe the only way you can trust a fashion company is employing people fairly is if they are visible about their people, pricing, and products.
This infographic shows the breakdown of where your money goes when you buy a Visible.Clothing Men's shirt.
One of the most common questions we get asked is, "Why does postage make up such a large percentage of the overall cost?" It's a good question.
Two of the main reasons postal charges cost so much is because sending a parcel halfway around the world is resource and labour intensive. Parcels need to be packaged, sorted, checked in customs, transported via plane, and delivered via land.
Sometimes these processes have to happen multiple times and each one requires labor, resources, and fuel. We must also pay duty, depending on the country and size of the order.
Many courier companies including FedEx have also invested in Carbon Offset programs. Sending a 0.5kg parcel from Dharamshala, India to London, UK has a carbon footprint of 2.3kg of CO2. That is the equivalent of 1 liter of petrol, 5 plastic bottles, or 12 plastic bags. This means that for parcels included in the Carbon Offset program, FedEx invests the equivalent funds in environmental projects, which neutralize the carbon footprint of the parcels sent. While a bit more expensive on our end, such programs are incredibly important for the environment.
Just like our shirts have many different costs that factor into the price, so does the courier industry. While £8 may seem like a lot, sending a parcel 4,000 miles is no small feet of labor or resources.
Tailoring Team's Wages
The second question we get asked, or rather told is "£6 doesn't sound like very much" for our tailoring team's wages. If our tailors worked and lived in central London, you are right it wouldn't be.
However, a fair trade wage for an employee in one country isn't based off the fair wage of an employee where the goods are sold or the business is run. Part of a global economy entails markets in which the cost of living in different countries and regions varies significantly.
For example, the minimum wage in a city tends to be higher than that of its rural counterparts because the cost of living is higher. As a result, a fair trade wage is determined based on what is considered a socially acceptable and sustainable wage within the area which an employee works.
As a fair trade company, one of our primary goals is to help alleviate poverty and inequality of those we employ. We strive to run a business where our employees are supported through financial security, opportunity, and community.
This means looking beyond the minimum wage and considering what constitutes a living wage within the community, accounting for the acquisition of skill, and ensuring discrepancies in pay do not arise out of prejudice or gender bias.
Women receive paid maternity leave and all our tailors are paid a salary rather than per piece. We found that a per piece system propagated a competitive and stressful environment where the tailors were less willing to help each other and collaborate. Switching to salary not only benefited the work environment, but we also found it fundamental in promoting a focus on high-quality craftsmanship rather than output quantity.
5% Tailoring Teams Benefit
We believe when the company prospers everyone involved should as well. As a result, 5% of all revenue is set aside and given back to the tailors as additional benefits.
We have a confession to make. We think we are paying too little for our fabric. We know that sounds backwards, right? Most companies talk about cutting costs, but the reality is one of the reasons goods can be produced at such low costs overseas is that companies cut corners on worker safety, wages, and environmental safeguards.
Right now we can't trace our materials back to the source, which means that we are likely participating in supply chains that are environmentally or ethically unfair. This is something we aren't proud of it, and it is also why we source as much fair trade, organic, and environmentally friendly textiles as possible. We are also working to increase the efficiency of our pattern cutting meaningless fabric waste and lower material costs per shirt.
Overhead: Utilities, Maintenance, Website, and Transaction Fees
Every company has these costs, which are the base costs of facilities and resources divided amongst the products sold. What's different for us is utilities and maintenance take special concern for us.
Just as the Rana Plaza collapse illustrated, one of the greatest issues of working within a third world country is ensuring worker health and safety. We employ a childminder to watch the children of our staff so women with nursing infants can still come to work, and those with sick or traveling spouses do not have to miss work to watch their children.
There is a water filter on site, to ensure everyone has access to safe drinking water, and we provide Chai along with lunch break and two paid tea breaks each day.
Graphic Design, Marketing, Fabric Sourcing, Design, Admin, Accounting and Legal
Just like any company we have a (small) team of professionals based out of the U.K. and the U.S. doing work behind the scenes. For every new shirt design, there is a process of sourcing, prototyping, cost analysis, marketing, photography... You get the picture and all are vital pieces of the overall pie.