It wasn’t until a trip to China, and an unexpected meeting with the realities of unethical fashion, that I found both complete intrigue and my purpose –feeling empowered to boldly pull back the veil of the immoral practices and change the mindset of the fashion industry.
After college, I found myself on a study abroad program in Guangzhou, China. While busing around the city, I came across a huge gated community to my right with housing to my left, a garment factory full of prisoners young and old. Shortly, I would come to discover these factory workers were overworked and underpaid, merely making only five cents per day.
It was this pivotal moment where truth met reality for me, and I promised myself I would do everything in my power to change the unethical production overseas. This trip sparked my movement and ideations for my company, lending insight into how I could bring awareness and become a voice for those who had none. Wholeheartedly, I set out to change the fashion ecosystem with nothing but humbleness, motivation and a business plan. I put my plan into action and began infusing my personal journey with the mission of my company, promoting transparent manufacturing, fair wages and work-life balance.
As a holistic designer I am deep-rooted in the fashion world. I am constantly reminded when I look around the industry and find humanity programmed to expect fast fashion at their doorstep with a simple click of a button. This mindset accompanied with the fast fashion era produces a plethora of disadvantages. On the primary level it’s unhealthy to your physical being , and on the secondary level, harmful for the environment.
This is due to the lack of awareness around the inhumane issues in the fashion industry. It’s vital society acknowledges along with the cheap low cost of clothing, comes a higher cost of human lives and environmental destruction. Although, it may be convenient to buy clothes at an affordable price our purchasing decisions are filling up landfills with excess leftover fabrics. We are stealing the very lives that have literally sold their soul to outfit your trendy look for Friday night.
I find that society's mindset is brainwashed with the impulsive and must-have attitude. The selfish competition to snag the latest faux look off of the runway first and for the cheapest must stop. This behavior is risking both human and environmental wellness, leading to an influx of consumerism and self- manipulation. Humanity is physically poisoning themselves by polluting the only accessible water available to drink, dehumanizing manufacture workers and blinding consumers into manipulation tactics that falsify happiness.
Fashion is one of my passions, at which I am not implying we should roam the street nude and rid all of our clothing, but I am shedding light on the unglamorous side of the fashion industry. I believe fashion empowers us through artistic expression and plays a pivotal role at differentiating us as individuals. It’s up to us to create awareness and provide consumers with options to make better choices when buying clothes. Myself and many other lifestyle companies are designing for a change and embarking on movements in this industry to give consumers healthier choices.
I would have never imagined a couple of years ago a little study abroad trip would ignite my calling and expose my true purpose in the fashion industry. This experience has given me the entrepreneur spirit and drive to create my own organic fashion brand, IZAVEL VARELA Inc. My brand promotes eco-friendly dyes, lives for transparent manufacturing and proudly focuses on sustainability and local production. We want everyone to know that there is a better way. We can choose healthier products for our environment and for ourselves.