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Streetsy: The Hands Behind the Brands

Aug 9, 2011

by Beth Levison

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This morning I was having a conversation with a colleague on a busy street when a young woman approached me and said, “Excuse me, I love your clogs!” I looked down and admired my recently acquired, long-coveted, black leather clogs. Then, a quick second later she asked me the inevitable follow-up: “Where did you get them?” I gladly told her the name of the shop and the address, too.

Maybe all of us have experienced a version of this polite, complimentary inquiry. However, I’ve often wondered why no one ever asks the more intriguing question: “Who made your clothes?” With this in mind, we decided to ask  regular folk on the streets of New York City, followed by a more important query: “Do you care?”

It was a fascinating and fun experiment, and it gave us an idea: We’d love to hear from you! Where does your clothing come from? Do you know who made it — and do you care? Respond in the comments below, or even better, create a video response on our YouTube channel. Post it on YouTube and the five most thought-provoking responses will be posted on the Etsy Blog.

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48 comments

  • fromthedrawingboard

    fromthedrawingboard said 8 years ago

    Loved this. Thank you for sharing.

  • BobbyPinBrown

    BobbyPinBrown said 8 years ago

    Wow. I enjoyed that.

  • Iammie

    Iammie said 8 years ago

    Interesting. :)

  • BernadettesCrafts

    BernadettesCrafts said 8 years ago

    Another very well produced video. You guys are good. Can you run this as a Superbowl ad with ETSY.COM superimposed all over it. Seriously, I think this one in particular is a great message. Thanks.

  • atouchofgray

    atouchofgray said 8 years ago

    what a wonderful question. i don't think a lot of people really think about where their clothing comes from...even the "designer" labels. I just looked at the tags on the clothes I am wearing today (all from second-hand stores except for my undergarments) and I just realized that I am an INTERNATIONAL FASHIONISTA. Tank Top - Hong Kong Blouse - Pakistan Vest - India Skirt - Peru Undergarments - Mexico

  • piecesofelises

    piecesofelises said 8 years ago

    Very interesting. I've always looked at the clothing tags to see what country they were made in. Some said China, Madagascar, Guatemala, and Vietnam. I think I may have seen something that was made in the US. Since discovering Etsy I've given more thought to how our clothes are made and where I shop. I've been doing more thrifting at the local Goodwilll, eyeing the clothing made here on Etsy, and even considering making some of my own. I think it's an important thing to consider. Especially since in this country it seems we take so much for granted, as if the store we bought the item from made it, when really it was made oceans away.

  • myvintagecrush

    myvintagecrush said 8 years ago

    Awesome! I love this entire concept, streetsy to youtube! ..I love to research where my clothes come from, both modern and vintage ;)

  • reemadesignstudio

    reemadesignstudio said 8 years ago

    Great video. I do care where my clothes come from. I wish I had the talent to make them myself.

  • ace212sail

    ace212sail said 8 years ago

    I do this with food all the time. Now I will also check where my clothes come from.

  • KKSimpleRegalJewelry

    KKSimpleRegalJewelry said 8 years ago

    This would make a interesting study! ~KK~

  • fantasygarden

    fantasygarden said 8 years ago

    My favorite closes made my friend and some i have bought in Goodwilll, but i think it depends of people some care and some not . To educate society is very important it will change thinking in general .

  • VintageEye

    VintageEye said 8 years ago

    Something we should all think about in these days of the global economy. Thanks for making this video!

  • littlebugjewelry

    littlebugjewelry said 8 years ago

    This is great!

  • MegansMenagerie

    MegansMenagerie said 8 years ago

    Loved it! Thanks!

  • SweetSincerity

    SweetSincerity said 8 years ago

    I think I should definitely care more... :) Thanks for this video.

  • AliceCloset

    AliceCloset said 8 years ago

    Great!!!! ^__^

  • myneedlehabit

    myneedlehabit said 8 years ago

    It's definitely a relevant question. In the current economic landscape, it's hard to ask the general public because so many are price-driven shoppers. They simply can't afford the 'luxury' of caring about a garment's origins. Etsians are an entire cultural population that can begin to make a difference in this category, as they are gradually impacting other lifestyle choices.

  • lorwich Admin

    lorwich said 8 years ago

    Love this video & the questions raised. I can't wait to see community video responses!

  • Parachute425

    Parachute425 said 8 years ago

    In the mood to have my thoughts provoked. Looking forward to the five most thought-provoking responses.

  • TheIDconnection

    TheIDconnection said 8 years ago

    Well for me, I frequent our local thrift stores, junk stores etc... I may make it to the mall once a year if I'm lucky. I find the coolest old vintage clothes, shoes, jewelry etc.. that I just adore. I would not shop anywhere else! Great article

  • dabbledesigns

    dabbledesigns said 8 years ago

    Great idea!! I would love to make all my clothes, but i don't have the patience :)

  • funinvitationshop

    funinvitationshop said 8 years ago

    My clothes are mostly made in countries other then the US and I wish more was made here...

  • mamaha

    mamaha said 8 years ago

    Well, as a matter of fact, the dress I am wearing was made by ME!

  • AntoinettesWhims

    AntoinettesWhims said 8 years ago

    Probably 98-99% of my clothing comes from thrift shopping. Half the time the tags are ripped out of them already so I really don't know who or where they are made. What matters most to me is an affordable, flattering fit and if it is washable. I'm not dry cleaning anything. We do not need those cancer causing chemicals next to our bodies or anywhere in the environment for that matter. Perhaps I'll think about it more now, but my budget really would not allow me to think hard enough to pay more.

  • SmallEarthVintage

    SmallEarthVintage said 8 years ago

    I wear mostly vintage. What's neat is that I have relatives who worked in the dressmaking industry in St. Louis back in the 1940s and 1950s, and often wonder if a garment I've handled or worn passed through their own hands.

  • greatestfriend

    greatestfriend said 8 years ago

    I care ALOT! I'm probably a bit extreme but i haven't bought anything new for many years.... i like to buy new if its handmade with sustainable fabrics - although that will often excede my budget unless Im savvy. There's so much used clothing thats in perfectly good shape in the USA, the fact that more is being produced for american consumers boggles me. it's capitalism at its grossest. the manufacturing industry could take 10 years off and we'd still have too much in our closets here in america.

  • TheScarfTree

    TheScarfTree said 8 years ago

    Really interesting! A very good observation! It appears people look at item specific things, people are either shoe people, or just tops, or jewelry people - I think asking in general about "clothes", could be to general and that is why you only got a question about your shoes!

  • LittleWrenPottery

    LittleWrenPottery said 8 years ago

    Interesting idea, some of my clothes are vintage and I guess they were made in a factory long ago. I have some handmade pieces I treasure, they're the best thanks to the people who made them and others are new. I do worry about where my clothes come from and I try to shop responsibly!

  • ShoeClipsOnly

    ShoeClipsOnly said 8 years ago

    I love it when people ask me "where did you get those"? And I can proudly tell them that I made them! (and hand them a business card of course!) :)

  • mariezei

    mariezei said 8 years ago

    Hey there! For the German speaking ones: We did something similar for the German Etsy Blog at Fashion Week in Berlin this summer: http://de.etsy.com/blog/fashion-%E2%89%A0-industry-wir-haben-nachgefragt Big hello from Berlin!

  • Olele

    Olele said 8 years ago

    Interesting subject! Now that I've started sewing my own clothes I realize how little I know about the garments I usually wear. I'm sure they've been made by people who live in much worse conditions than me, and that makes me feel sad. :(

  • rinnyc

    rinnyc said 8 years ago

    Do i care where my clothes come from. Yes and no. I usually get my clothes from stores like Fovever 21, American Eagle or Aeropostale ect. When i buy from these name brand stores i know what i am getting and that is good quaility. If i go to a store where that sell a mix of things (example target or wal-mart) i never look at the tags. I just buy it if it is cute and fits well.

  • EvenAndy

    EvenAndy said 8 years ago

    Most of the time I am not sure who makes my clothes. I love comfortable and cute and I guess I never really thought about it. I don't tend to buy clothes based on the brand.

  • AiliMcKeen

    AiliMcKeen said 8 years ago

    Once upon a time, it was very economical to make your own clothes. Women "showed their worth" by either being a great seamstress or a great cook. Now, the prices of fabric and notions put home sewing in the realm of couture, regardless of how humble the projects may be. People on a budget can get more for less at the store. I care who makes my clothes in relation to how much they cost. The more expensive, the more I need to know not just who designed, but who constructed. Now, that said, I do NOT shop at Walmart - they just aren't good for America - but I do have a budget to live within. As a home-sewer, I don't have money or time to fully outfit myself and my family, but I can judge the quality of a garment, and look for that when in the store. That's actually why I love Esty's homemade and vintage vendors.

  • kimberlynoland

    kimberlynoland said 8 years ago

    This is a great video. Such an interesting question that many people rarely think about! If anyone is looking to buy handmade clothing check out my shop. Everything is made by myself right here in Alabama :)

  • TNTees

    TNTees said 8 years ago

    Great idea, I'm looking forward to viewing some of the responses!

  • dianne64

    dianne64 said 8 years ago

    wish more people would think about where their clothes come from - not just who made them either, but where the materials came from. Lots of cotton in the European market comes from Uzbekistan, where children have been forced to work in the cotton fields which are sprayed with the deadly pesticide endosulfan. They are often denied an education and many children are born with deformaties from the effects of endosulfan, which is an endocrine disruptor, on their parents. The source of the cotton is lost in the manufacturing chain and it's usually not named in the label. When you buy please bear that someone else is often paying the price. Thanks to the Environmental Justice Foundation something is being done about this but consumers need to play their part too. http://www.ejfoundation.org/page246.html :(

  • Joyflower

    Joyflower said 8 years ago

    I am fascinated with this question. I wonder if you would consider my video: http://vimeo.com/10451968

  • Maggarama

    Maggarama said 8 years ago

    I've grown up with a mom who owns a consignment store. She had a children's consignment store my whole childhood, and when my siblings and I outgrew the children's store, she opened an adults store next door (or at least she jokes that's the reason why). All of my clothes don't come from her store, but what doesn't comes from other consignment stores or yard sales. I would say 99% of my clothes are secondhand. I may be still be wearing high quality brand name clothes, but the way I see it, I'm not really supporting the stores they originally came from. The person who first owned my clothes would have bought them regardless, and the company isn't getting any of the profit from my purchase. I don't wear clothes with brand names splashed across the front, so I'm not advertising for them, either. I'm supporting locals - the store owners, the consignors, or whoever I purchase the clothes from. I recently saw a TED video of Jessi Arrington about wearing nothing new and I love her message. I feel GUILTY even admiring clothes in popular stores with super low prices because I can't help but wonder how they can sell the stuff for such a low price. I like that I can confidently say that I'm pretty close to being in Jessi's shoes. I won't promise I'll never buy anything new, but I certainly try to be aware of what I'm supporting and the impact my purchase may have. I'm a big fan of shopping on Etsy for that reason. It's really personal. I can communicate and support directly the people who make the clothes or are selling the secondhand clothes. I feel GOOD about my purchases because I know they are supporting someone. And it's cool being able to put a name and a face, in some cases, to the creator of my purchases.

  • likeANDlove

    likeANDlove said 8 years ago

    I love this, thank you!

  • sparrowgrey

    sparrowgrey said 8 years ago

    Over the past few years, I've tried to become more educated because I do care about where my clothing comes from. Awesome post... spread the knowledge!

  • gigi4747

    gigi4747 said 8 years ago

    Right now I'm wearing a headband and a pair of earrings I purchased on etsy : ) I've been trying for a long time now to think carefully about where my money is going, pretty much every time I make a purchase and certainly every time I donate to a cause. I was drawn to etsy originally because I was trying to invest more in the US and American-made goods (although I've purchased from etsy sellers in other countries as well). "Handmade" is also wonderful whenever possible, as is vintage, upcycled, etc! Individual designers and entrepreneurs are also great to invest in, imo, and I admire anyone who has the talent and discipline to run his or her own business. People are always complimenting me on items I've purchased on etsy. I tell everyone, "I bought it on etsy." Many don't know what etsy is, so that's a good way to spread the word.

  • OrquidiaVioleta

    OrquidiaVioleta said 8 years ago

    I care whom make my clothes. So I have only 1 bin of clothes that I get during "clothes swap, on the street, swapmeet, & American made clothes by me or some else.

  • designbylannette

    designbylannette said 8 years ago

    I have sewn for years and even worked in a shop where I was paid $.75 per pair of pants I made. People don't want to spend too much on their clothes, but someone is being paid even less to make them. Most would be offended to be paid less than minimum wage for any kind of work and yet sewing is a job that requires skill and expertise to master. So next time you're in a store considering an item of clothing, think about how long it may have taken to make that item. Then how much someone should have been paid to make it. Because every piece of clothing is handmade by someone. Just a thought.

  • BluJeanBeads

    BluJeanBeads said 8 years ago

    Something that I think about a lot. I went to a major dept store here in WA state and almost everything came from China. It saddened me....then I saw a documentary that shows that only 10% or so of the mills in America are still running. Even if we make our own clothes....the cloth probably comes from somewhere else. I buy way too many clothes - mainly discounters and thriftstores and wear them forever. I was looking at a skirt the other day that I received as a birthday gift 26 years ago. I still love it....it is a classic wrap and made from beautiful linen. Take care of it....Take care of you so you can wear your stuff for a longtime!

  • AiliMcKeen

    AiliMcKeen said 8 years ago

    I wish I could "like" responses, so many insightful comments!

  • pukkacrew

    pukkacrew said 8 years ago

    if only this kind of awareness could be spread throughout, and this lame super consumer american mindset could be seen as the absurd thing it really is. coming from a small town of about 20,000 people in northwest arkansas, most people don't care what country their products came from, or who had to work to make it. as long as they get to wear it, and look "cool", then everything else doesn't matter. i feel like there isn't much i can do to change there mind. only lead by example. we have to start living within our means, i feel like that is something that the generation above me didn't do quite well.

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    MixxMedium said 8 years ago

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