Earth Month: How to Shop Eco-Friendly Underwear
This year, April 2020, is the 50th anniversary of the celebration of Earth Month!
What is Earth Month?
Organizations worldwide demonstrate support for environmental protection and to increase awareness and appreciation of our planet.
MADI Apparel is unique to the underwear and apparel market as we are the only brand focused on Making a Difference in EVERY WAY. Each of these aspects includes treating our planet and the people who inhabit it with kindness and respect.
How to shop for eco-friendly underwear
We know how difficult it can be to make earth-friendly decisions when buying new clothing, because it's almost always not the cheapest option. Our brains have been hardwired to "accept" the cheapest price tag, even when it's the most harmful choice.
*Remember, cheap price tags = cheap labor, cheap fabric, HIGH cost on the impact of the the environment and on the health of sewers.
If you're an avid thrift shopper, underwear can be difficult, because although thrift stores sell it, most people would choose to buy it new. Also, underwear is the only item that cannot be donated used in non-profit organizations that house men and women.
When shopping for ethically made underwear, pay attention to the following things:
-How much is the price tag? If a single pair costs less than $10, chances are either the fabric, labor or quality was compromised
-What is the fabric makeup? If you see over 10% in spandex, nylon or polyester, this means you're buying underwear made of unnatural fabrics full of plastic.
-Where was it made and who made it? This can be hard to tell from the label, but do a quick google search. For example, if you found our garment in a store and wondered who made it - you'd see "made ethically in kc". But, if you weren't able to find that on our tag, you could google us and find a whole section about our local, fair labor production. Companies who are proud of their manufacturing practices won't hide anything about the process.
Why packs of underwear CAN BE harmful to people and the planet
Here is an eight pack of underwear for $8.99. Great deal - YES. It feels a little too good to be true though, doesn't it?
What's the true cost behind this underwear pack?
Let's do a little retail math.
$8.99 for eight pairs of underwear means the price of each pair in this pack is $1.22.
Divide that number by four to get the traditional cost to produce each individual garment in the pack, and you have $0.28. Twenty eight cents to produce a pair of underwear. To land on a cost this low, something (or multiple things) have to give. Meaning - ethical measures are compromised somewhere in the production - whether it's harmful fabrics, unfair wages, low quality production, etc.
To give you an idea, it costs us roughly twenty times this much to make a single pair of underwear. In fact, our 4-pack of underwear retails at $136. An eight pack of underwear would retail about $244 - and that's after large discounts.
Granted, there are multiple values we stay true to that make our manufacturing more expensive:
- We believe in small batch production (eliminating waste and seasonal fashion trends).
- We source ethically-made, organic and sustainable fabrics like OEKA textiles from factories that pay their employees fair wages and use the highest standards of quality production.
Here's an example of another cheap panty pack using harmful fabrics. This is a 5-pack of underwear for $5.97.
The fabric makeup is 55% nylon, 35% polyester, 10% spandex - aka 100% plastic underwear.
- We employ local people in our city to cut and sew our products. This grows the local economy (instead of creating jobs in cities across the world). It also ensures fair labor and safe working conditions. We visit our cut and sew teams on a monthly basis to oversee production and check in.
- We work with US and Canadian fabric suppliers that work as a middle-man to help us source fabrics that fit the above criteria. Some of the larger manufacturers work directly with the manufacturer and are able to produce fabric in larger bulk quantities for a lower price. Increased bulk fabric production also leads to additional waste, though.
These standards not only cost more, but they're important - and we won't compromise.
Are all underwear packs harmful?
No! As mentioned above, we - and many other eco-friendly underwear manufacturers - sell panty packs that are completely ethically made. As mentioned, though, most underwear that cost less than $15 per pair should be seen as a red flag. Of course, brands are able to give discounts when selling packs in bulk, so packs will always be much cheaper than individually sold underwear. Don't be afraid to buy panty packs, just take a look at the fabric makeup, cost and how they're made first!
We'll break down how retail and wholesale prices are normally determined...
First, the manufacturer (brands that make their own products, like MADI Apparel) buys the fabric and pays for labor to make a garment.
Next, the manufacturer usually sells the produced products to distributors - also known as stockists - who buy the products at a discounted wholesale rate from the manufacturer. The wholesale rate is usually determined by taking the cost to produce the garment and multiplying that cost by two. The wholesale rate is also usually half the price of the retail rate (cost x four), that way the stockist may double the cost the paid for the garment and still make a healthy margin on the sale.
Lastly, the manufacturer usually sells their produced products via retail outlets - aka direct-to-customers (b2c) like through their own website and their own brick-and-mortor stores. The retail price is traditionally determined by multiplying the cost to produce the garment by two to get the wholesale rate and then doubling that again to get the retail price.
Remember when buying new garments to take a look first at the price tag, then the fabric makeup, where it's made, etc. Just a short analysis will go miles in making a conscious decision to help protect people and the planet in your shopping decisions. Thanks for your efforts in making earth-friendly shopping decisions! We love ya!