What do Indian teenagers wear under clothes?

We get dressed every morning. Pants, skirt, shirt, shirt and in winter also a jacket. However, we don't know much about what we are wearing. Or can you tell where the clothes you are wearing were produced? Or maybe even how?

Most people cannot answer these questions because there are many people involved in the manufacture of textiles who carry out many different work steps in many different places. So it's complicated.

Nevertheless, it is important to take a closer look at textile production as the lives of many people on this planet depend on it and it has a major impact on the environment.

You can find a list of fair fashion labels at the bottom of this page.


Cultivation of cotton

The raw material for most textile products is cotton. This grows mainly in India, China and the USA as well as in smaller quantities in Pakistan, Brazil and Uzbekistan. Cotton is also grown in some African countries.

The cultivation of cotton requires a lot of water. The groundwater is often insufficient for this and water has to be pumped over long distances for artificial irrigation. This has a major impact on the water table in the cultivation areas and thus on the lives of the people there. In addition, many toxic pesticides are used in cotton cultivation. These are also transferred to other plants via the water and ultimately end up in the groundwater and poison it.

However, cotton cultivation is often the only source of income for the people in the growing regions. A lot of hardworking hands are needed, especially for picking the cotton. Each cotton bud must be collected individually. A good picker can handle around 100kg of cotton per day. In some areas the children also have to help out during the harvest season, they suffer particularly from harsh working conditions and the many poisons in cotton cultivation. In other parts of the world, especially in the USA, huge harvesting machines are now being used. However, these high-tech machines are far too expensive for producers in poorer countries.

The cotton is traded on the world market. This means that all the providers there say how much money they want for their goods and the buyers say what they want to pay for them. However, this market is unequal and unfair: For example, farmers in the USA receive additional money from their state when they grow cotton. This enables them to offer the goods cheaper on the world market. They have an advantage over producers from countries in the global south.

Buyers of cotton often offer low prices because they know that the producers often do not know what their goods are worth and that they urgently need to sell their goods because they need the money. These then often agree even at a very low price.


Further processing

Cotton is just the beginning of textiles. To turn it into a garment, it has to be spun into a thread so that it can be knitted or woven into a fabric. This fabric is then dyed in the desired color and delivered to sewing factories. Here, items of clothing are sewn from it according to the wishes of the customers.

In the past there were many sewing factories in Germany and Central Europe that sewed shirts and trousers or even curtains and blankets. The cost of production rose because people wanted more money to do their work, because they wanted to be more comfortable. At some point it was so expensive that the producers closed their factories here and are now mainly producing in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and China.

People don't make that much money there and there aren't that many laws that keep people safe while they work. This is another reason why production is cheaper there, because the implementation of such laws would also cost money. Children and young people also often work in textile production and can therefore not go to school.

So that we can buy cheap textiles, other people suffer. Often they cannot even afford the bare minimums of life and have to take such risks that it can sometimes cost them their lives.

That's unfair.

Standards, seals and initiatives

It is not easy to get an overview of the labels, seals and symbols that claim to stand for fair, sustainably produced or ecological clothing. In general, you have to know that each character is based on different criteria. After everyone can sew what he or she wants to their clothes. If it is not a protected seal, many signs say little. It is important that it is a control or accompaniment that does not belong to the textile company, so that there is no conflict of interest.

If you want a complete overview of all the characters, take a look at label-online.de.

Here you will find an overview of the two most important seals and two campaigns that work for better conditions in the textile industry.

Fairtrade certified cotton

The well-known Fairtrade seal is also available for cotton. It's called Fairtrade Certified Cotton. Cotton textiles that meet the Fairtrade criteria receive this seal.

At Fairtrade certified cotton, cotton is grown under fair trade conditions. So there is a minimum price for cotton and a Fairtrade premium for community products as an additional payment. During the further production process, checks are carried out to ensure that the core labor standards of the International Labor Organization (ILO) are complied with. This means that child labor and forced labor are prohibited, jobs must be safe and legal requirements must be complied with. So far, however, no fair wages or bonuses have been required for the seamstresses.

More information about Fairtrade certified cotton on the pages of Fairtrade Germany.

Global Organic Textile Standard

The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is one of the strongest symbols for the ecological production of a garment. It only applies to natural fibers, especially cotton, linen and silk. The GOTS is particularly strong because it applies from the fiber to the finished textile.

Only additives permitted by the standard may be used across all production steps. ? This means that the organic certified raw fiber is not contaminated by toxic or problematic additives. The inks with which the garment is printed must also not contain PVC.

In addition to the strong ecological criteria, basic social criteria must also be observed in the GOTS. More information on this on the pages of the Global Organic Textile Standard.

Clean Clothes Campaign

The campaign for clean clothes is an amalgamation of many different organizations that have set themselves the goal of improving the working conditions of workers in the textile industry. It does this through campaigns and public relations.

More about the campaigns for clean clothes and their goals on their website.

The FairWear Foundation (FWF) works with companies that want to improve production conditions in their production. Factory reviews are used for this, followed by a report on which safety and improvement measures are necessary.

Details about the member companies of the FairWear Foundation and their approach on the website of the FairWear Foundation.