Selvedge guest blogger Emma Sumner tells us about interning at an Indian garment factory and her experience of working at the source of fast fashion. Fast Fashion is a highly responsive system of clothing production which is capable of turning high-cost luxury fashion trends into low-cost high street alternatives days after trends have been premiered on the catwalk. Delving deeper into the production of these low-cost high-end imitation garments, in September 2014 I undertook a month long internship in an independently owned garment factory in central Jaipur; an experience which drastically altered my opinion of the garments available in our high street stores. A short Auto Rickshaw ride from Jaipur’s famous ‘pink city’ centre, the factory operated six days a week producing garments to order for numerous international brands alongside running their own children’s and ladies fashion label. A continuous buzz of activity, my task was to produce designs for next season’s collection which would be appealing to the impulse driven ‘feel good’ customer, as the majority of the company’s brand sold through online discount stores. Once drawn up, all designs were passed to ‘The Master’ who transformed simple sketches into complicated pattern pieces which the sample maker then turned into reality before it was decided if the garment would be produced for market. A common misconception is that all garment production happens in a factory environment, but in smaller factories the work is often outsourced to local towns and villages where workers make from home. A flexible working pattern preferred amongst Indian communities it allows them to work whilst caring for children or elderly relatives and without incurring travel costs, but numerous international brands do not allow orders to be outsourced in this way as working conditions cannot be monitored. There are bigger factories on the outskirts of Jaipur operating on a vast scale and also where the fast fashion industry’s wasteful production processes are fully evident. For every order, to ensure quality control there is a fabric and production surplus, but although the company placing the order will usually have written this off as waste, the factories keep hold of these overruns to produce other items at a later dates or sell it to local tradesmen by the weight to sell at the local market. Both of these methods of repurposing ensure that nothing is wasted but it has to happen without the ordering company’s consent. With such a vast and complicated tangled web of issues to tackle, all with no simple solution, changing consumer attitudes and creating a true transparency in the supply chain will be a long drawn out task. I was left wondering what the impact of giving production surpluses to charity could be. Ideas like this always seem like a great solution but to really work, such schemes need the backing of the ordering company which feels, given their current wasteful attitudes, a dream scenario... Read the original full length article here.