In our episode today we have the immense good fortune of chatting to Makala Schouls. Makala is American and trained in textile design and an expert in sustainable denim. Shortly after graduating, she packed her bags and headed to Bangladesh where she worked for a garment factory. She ended up staying in Bangladesh for seven years, working for garment factories, brands, and agencies sourcing in Bangladesh on behalf of brands. Ultimately, her disillusionment with business as usual led her to Outland Denim in Cambodia. Outland Denim is an ethical denim manufacturer and brand, all in one. She now works as a freelance consultant.
You might be wondering, why would a garment factory in Bangladesh employ a designer? Isn’t that the job of the brands? Yes, historically it was. But this is changing. So is this a way for factories to move up the value chain and reclaim some of their power at the negotiating table? Or are factories just being saddled with more and more costs without increased compensation?
We also get a bit technical: what makes a pair of jeans sustainable? Where does the drive for more sustainable production come from? Who has responsibility for educating the consumer? And how could we transform the way we talk about transparency within sustainable fashion spaces to make it a more effective tool of consumer education?
Photos Lan Deng
Want to dig deeper ?
Interested in learning more about the role of transparency in consumer education? Kim has written a series of articles on this topic over the last few months. She explores how transparency inadvertently leads to sustainability solutions focused on control. Why equal partnership a better alternative. And how can Fashion Revolution’s Transparency Index be changed to support equal partnership.
Tencel has also hosted a webinar with a Pakistani denim mill about sustainability in light of Covid. Watch it here.
Looking for a less technical overview of sustainable denim options? Check out this recent article published in the Guardian.
And finally, interested in sustainable cotton options? The sustainable cotton landscape can get quite confusing. The Textile Exchange provides a great overview of the differences between the many cotton accreditations out there.