Although we have a lot to say about our sewing standards and the way we make our underwear and apparel, the most important information sits in one simple fact: we pay our crafters precisely 315% more than we are required to pay by law according to the minimum wage stipulations for our industry and location. And we still operate a viable business – that shouldn’t be possible.
we pay our underwear crafters precisely 315% more than we are required to pay by law
The making of our underwear and apparel takes place in the Indian state of Kerala where average salaries are the highest in the country. In 2010, the Government of Kerala updated its minimum wages for the Garment Manufacturing industry stipulating the following basic piece work wages for underwear: "60 Rupees (about $AUD1.15) for 1 dozen braziers or 1 dozen panties". These rates would see an underwear maker receiving about $AUD3.50 per day or $84 per month. Given it costs about $20 to fill a scooter with petrol and about $10 to feed a family of five a standard meal at a local restaurant, it’s not hard to imagine these salaries being less than adequate.
Knowing that the highest minimum wages in India don’t accommodate the actual cost of living makes it even more frightful to imagine the circumstances in other states of India and in other underdeveloped countries. The places where minimum wages are even lower and fast fashion relentlessly preys.
Paying so much more than legally required might seem ridiculous to some. To us, it simply means our crafters receive a fair percentage of our prices.
We had negotiations that went a little like this….
We asked our tailors how much they wanted to be paid per piece.
They told us.
They said something along the lines of “cool, let’s do this”.
The conversation was closed and everyone was happy.
The team operates from a cottage in South Kerala, surrounded by palm trees and a short walk from the Arabian Sea. It's a home we rented specifically for Monsoon Blooms; a place for our team to call their own.
When starting Monsoon Blooms we embarked on a fairly substantial learning quest to find out as much as we could about organic cotton farming, natural plant dyeing and ethical manufacturing - specifically in the context of India. If you're a little intrigued by the topic, you can view our resource list HERE. You can also view the complete farm to front door journey of Monsoon Blooms underwear and apparel HERE.