This olive Madewell button-down shirt has become a worn in favorite of mine over the years. It just gets softer and more faded with each wear + adventure. This shirt received happy sunshine stitches made while road tripping with my girls (+ my guy) on the way to a concert headlining an old favorite and revealing a new discovery. It has slipped over my sun-kissed shoulders as the temperatures dropped with the sun into the wild ocean. It has kept me comfortable on many lazy days curled up with a good book and a milky chai too. I don't feel like I live a Madewell life day by day, but there are Madewell moments sprinkled throughout my years.
My story with this shirt began on a Saturday evening, after fish tacos, in a store with soft lights, vintage concert posters + neatly fold stacks of cotton and denim. But that's not where this shirt's story began. Up until our meeting, the most significant human relationships it had were with the garment workers who made it.
Zhang is living the Madewell life in China. She sews cotton shirts in a factory for ten hours per day. Twice a year she takes a long anticipated road trip on a train with her husband (also named Zhang) to see their one year old son. Sometimes her husband hums that tune she likes as they walk tiredly back to the dormitory from the factory under starry skies. Both of their paychecks put together still don't add up to a living wage and especially not after sending money back home to pay for the care of their son and families living in the village. Their one day off per week is spent doing chores, laundry, and grocery shopping...afterward they lay in bed to watch some TV, but fall asleep instead.
Madewell days...Madewell moments. I'm so glad we share this Madewell life.
This post is a homework project for the Who Made My Clothes course I'm taking right now. We were asked to spend some time researching the origins of an item of clothing we own + then to tell a story based on our findings. I cannot know who actually made my shirt, so I pieced together a story based on my research. My cotton shirt is labeled, "made in China".
Madewell is owned by parent company J.Crew. Madewell does offer a social responsibility statement in which they state that it is their goal to work with manufacturers who "promote better working conditions". J.Crew is a member of the Fair Factories Clearinghouse which works to improve + track working conditions. J. Crew commits to "not knowingly" source materials involving child labor or harmful practices. They admit that they are not always aware of the origins of materials used in their products. They sever relationships with factories found in noncompliance only as a last resort. (source)
As of 2013, J.Crew used 320 factories in 24 countries. A list of the countries was released in the same year, but no factory names or addresses were offered. Though recent reports state that J.Crew is struggling, in 2015 the brand's revenue was $2505.8 million. (source)
Zhang + Zhang work in a factory in China which manufactures cotton clothing. (source)
Wage + working conditions information (source) (source) (source).
Join me on the course, if you like. I believe you can start it at any time...and it's free.