Posts tagged with ‘ethical fashion’

  • Apr202018

    What is The Fashion Revolution?

    “Fashion revolution is a global movement calling for greater transparency, sustainability and ethics in the fashion industry. The goal is to unite the fashion industry and ignite a revolution to radically change the way our clothes are sourced, produced and purchased, so that what the world wears has been made in a safe, clean, and fair way.”

    Fashion revolution started after the Rana Plaza complex collapsed in Bangladesh in 2013, killing over 1,100 people. The need was realized for more transparency in supply chains and for consumers to be aware of how their clothes are actually being made and the possible negative parts of the supply chain, such as exploitation of the workers and pollution of the environment. If there is transparency, consumers can identify whether or not people are being exploited in the supply chain or the environment is being harmed. Fashion revolution aims to restructure the fashion industry to value people and the environment while still creating profit for businesses. At Purnaa, we stand behind the vision of Fashion Revolution.


    Here are 3 ways Purnaa is committed to improving our part of the Fashion Industry.


    1. We strive for transparency; anyone can come take a tour of our facilities, and we are open about who made your clothes, featuring our workers on our website through pictures and interviews.

    1. With our Custom Print Gear line we have our supply chains listed out in detail and explain the sustainable processes used in production.  We love that we can offer an ethical and sustainable option for custom print merchandise. Check it out!

    Sustainable Supply Chain Infographic

    1. We do our best to take care of the environment. We use environmentally friendly fabrics in our products, such as organic cotton, bamboo, and vegetable dyed leather. We also up-cycle overstock fabric. Whenever possible we use leftover fabric from a project to make a whole new product. In the past year we have partnered with Doko to recycle our waste.

    Doko Recycling Training



    We would like to see everyone become involved in the Fashion Revolution, whether you are a producer, retailer, or a consumer. We encourage you to ask the question, “Who made my clothes?” Change starts to happen when people become aware of an issue and seek to find more information about it.


    Here are 4 ways YOU can become involved today.


    1. Take a picture showing the label of your clothes and use social media or email to ask the brand #WhoMadeMyClothes?

    1. Research and find out more about how to change the fashion industry. Fashion Revolution provides many resources, including How To Be A Fashion Revolutionary.

    1. The next step after becoming informed is to change shopping habits to align with what has been learned. Use the information you have gathered to only shop from brands that you know are treating their supply chain and the environment ethically. If you are not able to afford buying from ethical brands, there is always the option to buy second hand. This helps to eliminate some of the waste produced from the fast fashion industry.


    1. If you are a producer or a retailer, let the public know who the people are who made the clothes. Be open and transparent about where and how your items are produced. Show consumers that you are a company that they can trust is treating people and the environment properly.

    Raising awareness is a huge step in bringing about change in the fashion industry. If people know what is going on, then they will be able to find ways to help prevent the negative side effects from happening. At Purnaa we are transparent. You know how we are treating the environment and you know who made your clothes, you can even stop by and meet them personally!


    Purnaa Store
  • Feb162018
    Custom Print Gear Project Manager

    Meet Hannah, Our Creative Custom Print Gear Manager

    “Every single business has the potential to create social change and do good. Dignified employment and providing a living wage truly changes lives and should be the standard in every country.”


    Congratulations, you won the employee of the month award! How did you feel when you found out that you won?

    Thank you, I was so surprised and very honored.


    Do you know why you were selected?

    Purnaa recently launched a new range called Custom Print Gear, an ethical and sustainable collection of customizable basics. I helped develop this range from the concept to creating marketing materials and I now manage the project. It’s something that I’m very passionate about and proud to have been a part of.


    We want to get to know you a little bit better. Can you tell us about your family?

    My parents are from South Africa but my sister and I grew up in Wales. My Mom works for an organization that helps people who’ve been affected by domestic abuse, my Dad is a physician and my little sister is studying at medical school in London. I’m very lucky to have such a supportive family, they’ve all been to visit me in Nepal and they loved it here too.


    What is your job at Purnaa?

    My job at Purnaa is varied, which is what I love about it, but my main responsibility is as Custom Print Gear’s Project Manager and as a Sustainability Manager. I also work quite a bit in Marketing and Sales.


    What do you enjoy the most about your job?

    As I work in a few different departments, no two days are the same and I’ve had some amazing opportunities whilst being here. When I first started at Purnaa I worked in sourcing, which meant visiting suppliers and textile factories around the valley to see how they could work together with Purnaa. Meeting so many new people and learning in-depth about garment manufacturing is what I’ve enjoyed this the most.

    Oh, and Purnaa provides spicy dal bhat for lunch everyday. I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t also one of my favorite things.


    How long have you worked at Purnaa?

    Almost 18 months now.


    What did you do before you worked at Purnaa?

    I had graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University with a degree in Fashion Buying and Merchandising. I then took a year off to travel around Asia and discover more about garment and textiles manufacturing over here.


    What motivated you to come work at Purnaa?

    When I was in university I learned about the horrific impact that the fashion industry has on the environment and society. The more I came to understand about the toxic nature of the industry, the more I realized I’d never be able to work for a conventional company that puts profit before people and the environment. When I learned about what Purnaa was doing, creating employment opportunities for marginalized people and working against the traditional fast fashion model, it seemed like a perfect match.


    What keeps you coming to work?

    The incredible team of people that I work with. Everyone is so much fun to be around and get to know. Even though my Nepali isn’t good at all, we find ways to communicate (mainly chatting about food, eating, when you last ate, when I last ate, what your future food plans are, etc.). Everyone comes from completely different professional backgrounds, but shares a common determination to see Purnaa succeed.

    What have you learned from working at Purnaa that you would like to share with others?

    Every single business has the potential to create social change and do good. Dignified employment and providing a living wage truly changes lives and should be the standard in every country, as it is in most countries in the West. Underpaying and taking advantage of producers in the Global South is utterly criminal. Your power as a consumer is huge, supporting companies that have a positive impact in the world counts!


    If I were to ask your boss what your greatest strength is, what would they tell me?

    Probably that I’ll try anything you throw at me. With small businesses everyone has to pitch in, even when they’ve not tried something before. This year I built a website, which is something I never in a million years thought I’d be able to do.


    What dreams do you have for the future?

    I want to continue working for and learning from ethical companies in the garment industry around the world. I’d also like to be alive to see sweatshops die out and everyone in fashion’s supply chain receive a fair, living wage, but that may be too much of an unrealistic dream.


    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just how thankful I am to have worked at Purnaa. I’m coming to the end of my time here so reflecting on it through this interview has been lovely. Thanks for making me employee of the month!


    To discover more about Custom Print Gear visit:

    Purnaa Store
  • Dec172017
    Ethical Garment Production

    What is the True Cost of a T-Shirt?

    What Is the True Cost of a T-Shirt?

    Have you ever thought about how much your t-shirt really costs to make? Or wondered why the retail price is so much higher than the manufacturing cost?  What are you actually paying for? We explain what the true cost of a t-shirt really is.

    I teamed up with Purnaa’s production manager, Richard, to compare the cost breakdowns between a $20 T-Shirt produced at an average Bangladeshi factory vs. one manufactured at Purnaa.

    Bangladesh’s Garment Industry

    Bangladesh has one of the lowest minimum wages in the world, which is why it is one of the most popular countries to manufacturer garments in. More than 3.5 million people work in Bangladesh’s garment industry, which now accounts for about 80% of the country’s foreign trade. The workers, about 85% women, are often subjected to long work hours, forced or unpaid overtime, harassment, and unsafe working conditions, all to be able to produce the lowest price products for Western consumption. Wages are determined by businesses, unlike the cost of materials or shipping.  So when costs need to be cut, it is usually the worker’s salary that takes the first hit. We chose to compare Bangladesh with Purnaa as this is where a huge amount of the world’s cheap clothing originates. 

    Purnaa’s Commitment To Transparency

    Because Purnaa is committed to transparency, customers can find a complete cost breakdown for each product on the Custom Print Gear website. Purnaa customers can know what they’re paying for and wear Purnaa products with confidence knowing that they are purchasing from an ethical and sustainably-focused company who manufactures the right way.

    As you can see in the graph below, Purnaa’s administrative overheads, shipping, and import taxes are significantly higher. This is primarily because Purnaa is in Nepal, a landlocked country with stringent rules and regulations on exporting products. Overheads are higher because of our commitment to fair living wages.  


    T-Shirt Graph



    In both cases most of the t-shirt’s cost is allocated to brand markup, but in the Bangladeshi t-shirt’s case, a large percentage is also given to wholesale markup. The total cost of manufacturing the t-shirt is actually only $2.10 compared with $7.81 at Purnaa. A standard t-shirt’s retail price may be up to ten times higher than the wholesale price if it was sourced from a factory that exploits both it’s workers and the environment to make the cheapest possible products. When you buy directly from Purnaa there are no retailing markups, just a modest profit margin which we add to each shirt.


    You can see that Purnaa’s material costs are more than double than in Bangladesh. Nepal has a small textile industry, which means many fabrics are unavailable here, especially in large quantities. We import almost all Custom Print Gear fabric from India. Our organic cotton comes from a GOTS, Fairtrade, and Fair Trade USA certified supplier. To import fabric from India, even in large quantities, is very expensive.

    The dye that is used to dye the t-shirts are GOTS certified and low impact. They use less water, less heat and produce less waste runoff than regular chemical dyeing processes. These fiber-reactive dyes contain no heavy metals or other known toxic substances, and meet all European Union criteria for eco-friendly pigments.

    Wages and Benefits

    Appallingly, a Bangladeshi worker can make as little as $0.05 per t-shirt, compared with $1.68 at Purnaa.  However, this is only an average as we don’t actually pay a piece rate, all of our employees earn a salary. At Purnaa the lowest wage is $125 a month and the average among sewers is $141. The Nepali minimum wage is $92. You can find more information about staff salaries in our post A Living Wage in Nepal

    In September, Purnaa introduced a new bonus system to incentivize staff. Each team has a daily production target depending on the product they are sewing. For every hour ahead of schedule a team becomes, Purnaa pays them 1.2 times their hourly rate for the time saved. The average bonus a sewer can expect to earn per month is $42.50, the highest bonus currently received by a team was $147.50 per person in a month, over double the median wage. Since we have introduced this new system Purnaa has increased production by 35%.

    As well as a basic salary and production bonus’, Purnaa is pleased to be able to provide the following benefits:

    • Pension
    • Dashian Bonus – Dashian is an annual festival in Nepal, all employees receive a month’s bonus for this holiday.
    • Medical Allowance – Employees receive a $100 medical allowance per year and $50 per child or children that they have guardianship over
    • Lunch/Tea – Purnaa provides lunch, 2 tea breaks, and a snack everyday.
    • Housing Provision – The Nepali government states that a housing provision of 5% of net profit shall be divided among employees and given per month.
    • Yearly bonus – 10% of Purnaa’s annual net profit is shared amongst employees.

    Purnaa aims to be as transparent as possible in everything that we do. Our new range of Custom Print Gear includes certified organic cotton tees that are customizable for your needs including brand giveaways, events, conferences and uniforms. If you have upcoming merchandise needs, please contact us. We’d love to hear from you:

    Purnaa Store
  • Sep092016

    How It’s Made

    This is Purnaa’s Saru Messenger Bag. The Saru features eco-friendly genuine leather, water resistant canvas, hand woven Nepali ‘dhaka’ fabric, and the silhouette of Mt. Everest. You can contact us at to purchase it at wholesale rates.


    We thought we’d give you a “behind the scenes” look at the making of this product.


    Step 1: Design

    This is where it starts. We create a vision for the upcoming line and experiment with different fabric and construction options.

    Step 2: Sourcing

    Once we are happy with the design, we order all the materials and bring them to Purnaa. We try to source as much locally as we can, and for the materials we cannot find locally we import from India or China. For this bag, the water resistant canvas comes from a local supplier that sells to the Nepali Army for tents, and the leather comes from an eco-supplier in India. The zippers come from YKK India, and the hand woven Nepali Dakha was sourced from a women’s group.


    Step 3: Layering

    After all the supplies are gathered, we layer the canvas material on our cutting tables and then mark out each piece of the bag using our design patterns. We have to make sure we get the right number of each piece and also maximize the use of the fabric.


    Step 4: Cutting

    We cut out all of the pieces, making sure they are labeled correctly. We have to cut carefully; if we make a mistake cutting one piece, it affects all of the layers!

    Step 5: Screen Printing

    We then have the screen print of the silhouette of Mt. Everest done on the front of the bag.

    Step 6: Sewing!

    The sewing operations are divided into equal steps and each step is sewn by one of our talented employees. This bag had 18 different sewing operations from start to finish. Below Laxmi is sewing on the leather on the bottom back piece of the bag.

    Step 7: Quality Check

    After all of the sewing steps are complete, each bag is checked at our QC station. We look for any sewing or measurement mistakes and constantly improve how we are sewing.

    Step 8: Tagging and Packing

    After a bag is QC passed, we add our Purnaa Hangtag and individually package each bag. Since this bag was going to Amazon, it also needed a bar code sticker so all the robots can do their work

    Step 9: Shipping

    The bags are put into boxes and properly marked for easy receiving at at warehouses in the West. After a call to DHL, they are picked up and sent on their way!

    Purnaa Store
  • Apr182016

    Fashion Revolution

    “Fashion revolution is a global movement that runs all year, celebrating fashion as a positive influence, raising awareness of the fashion industry’s most pressing issues, showing that change is possible and celebrating those who are on a journey to create a more ethical and sustainable future for fashion. Fashion revolution week is a week-long campaign from April 18th-24th.


    The mission of Fashion Revolution is to unite the fashion industry and ignite a revolution to radically change the way our clothes are sourced, produced and purchased. We believe that collaborating across the whole supply chain; from farmer to consumer; is the only way to transform the entire industry. Fashion Revolution brings everyone together to make that happen.


    In order to make the fashion industry accountable and sustainable, we first need to make it transparent. We believe transparency is the first step to transform the industry. And it starts with one simple question: who made my clothes? This is our focus for the next five years. We believe this simple question gets people thinking differently about what they wear. We need to know that as consumers, our questions, our voices, our shopping habits can have the power to help change things for the better. With more consumers encouraging brands to answer ‘who made my clothes?’, we believe Fashion Revolution has the power to push the industry to be more transparent.” – Taken from



    At Purnaa, we are intentionally transparent. Our employees share about themselves through photos and blogs and we invite anyone to stop by and take a tour to see firsthand what we are all about.  Come on by and see our world-class, “not-a-sweatshop” facility in Nepal!
    Purnaa Store
  • Mar092016

    Meet Team Hari-Laxmi

    Welcome Team Hari Laxmi!
    (From left to right) Sita, Hari Laxmi, Priya, Sandya, Anu, Kalpana


    Purnaa is excited to officially welcome our newest production team, Team Hari Laxmi! Led by team leader Laxmi, this is our third full production team, adding seven new Nepalis to our full-time employee roster. The team was hired and trained last September and has been integral in the growth and expansion of Purnaa’s manufacturing goals.


    Despite the natural disasters and political issues Nepal has faced in the last year, Purnaa remains dedicated to our mission to empower those most marginalized by society and strives to reach those goals regardless of the current growth obstacles. In fact, defying most statistics Purnaa was able to add jobs in an economic climate characterized by high unemployment and job loss.


    We are so happy to have Team Hari Laxmi come on board here at Purnaa! Being able to hire another team among the economic strife in Nepal is a good indication of the growth and positive outlook we have moving forward to employ and empower more Nepali lives.


    Purnaa Store
  • Feb252016

    Lean Manufacturing the Toyota Way

    “Since people make things, work must begin by developing people.”

    ~Eiji Toyoda

    Here at Purnaa, people are at the core of what we do and how we do it excellently. We believe ethical business can both transform people’s lives and still continue to deliver superior products. By creating a work environment that empowers our employees with value and dignity, we are able to create higher quality products for our clients.

    But how does an automobile manufacturing system apply to the garment industry?


    Simple. The Toyota Manufacturing Process (TMP) is all about eliminating waste to create the most efficient production system possible. Although we’re not in the business of making cars, we are in the business of making our products as quickly and efficiently as possible. Our core values – excellence and love – echo the TMP pillars of continuous improvement and respect for people, which ties together Toyoda’s statement about the correlation between employees and product quality.


    Invest in employees → happy employees → employees enjoy and take ownership of their work → employees produce quality products


    How do we plan to achieve this?


    Taking a page out of Toyota’s handbook, at Purnaa, we integrate the following four principles from the TMP in our manufacturing process:

    1. Human Resource Development – the investment in the long-term, transferrable skill development of our employees. At Purnaa, we provide our employees with:
    • Cross-training in transferable skills and advanced manufacturing techniques
    • Fair and living wages
    • Full Time jobs

    2. Teamwork

    • Team Sewing System (this works great  in a Nepali context because they so value community!)
    • Values training
    3. Quality Control Standards
    • Quality checks
    • Fabric testing
    • Line checks – done at multiple steps of production
    • Pre-shipment inspection
    4. Eliminate Waste
    • Environmentally Sustainable fabric sourcing
    • Just-in-Time (we manufacture only what is ordered)

    Why are we applying these principles?


    One day a lady came to our company applying for a job. She told us she had been sewing for 6 years on industrial machines and we were excited at the thought of hiring someone with experience. But as we dug a little deeper, we learned she only knew one step of garment production… how to sew an armhole seam. For 6 years, on thousands and thousands of shirts, she had sewn the same seam over and over. Unfortunately, because of her lack of diversified skills, we were unable to hire her. Her lack of skills was the result of working in a factory that employed a standard assembly line production system, maximizing output but at the employee’s cost.


    At Purnaa we have a choice on the manufacturing systems we use. Rather than implementing the Standard Line Method (or Chain System), which minimizes workers’ skill diversification, we have integrated the Team Sewing System (TSS). Derived from principles of the Toyota Manufacturing Process, the TSS utilizes teams who are cross-trained to work multiple steps in the production line, maximizing their value as they become skilled in various disciplines instead of just a single one. For us, using a team-oriented process is effective because it provides team leaders with the ability to train in a more timely manner. Because of this, leaders are able to invest more in each employee, focusing on their individual needs and skill levels.

    So, what’s the point?


    We believe that valued employees make valuable products. Because of this, Purnaa is moving towards a complete and efficient implementation of the TMP principles to produce consistent and quality results, for our employees and our products. When we work to instill dignity and self-worth in our employees, they take ownership of their work.


    Over time, their work becomes a reflection of the value they see in themselves and results in top-of-the-line products for our clients!


    As a side note: we found this article about Pixar’s implementation of Toyota Principles very interesting!

    Purnaa Store
  • May122015

    Article in Christianity Today: Clothing Manufacturing Gets a Makeover

    24 April 2015: Update: Shortly after we posted this interview with the founder of a Kathmandu-based clothing company Purnaa, Nepal suffered a devastating earthquake. Purnaa has since verified that all its staff survived. For more on the disaster and relief efforts, please see CT’s Gleanings blog.
    Two years ago today, an eight-story commercial building near Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, collapsed, killing more than 1,100 workers. The deadliest garment-factory accident to date, it is only one tragedy in a long history of worker exploitation in an industry known for long hours, low wages, child labor, abuse, and unsafe conditions.
    In neighboring Nepal, Katrina Bryant, cofounder of social enterprise Purnaa, is working to prove that the garment industry doesn’t have to be that way…read full story here.


    Purnaa Store