Making clothes during a pandemic

Making clothes during a pandemic

Remember back in March and April when almost all the stores closed and you barely shopped for anything outside of food and household essentials? Clothing, unsurprisingly, was one of the hardest hit sectors in the economy with 80% decreases during the early months of the COVID pandemic. But it wasn't just retail stores that closed. In many places, including Peru where our clothing is made, production facilities had to close too. And the domino effect will be with us still for several more months.

No time is a good time for a pandemic of course, but the timing of when it struck Peru was particularly damaging for us and for our partners there. While clothes shopping within the context of 2020 is insignificant at best, the purpose of this blog is not to lament how the virus has impacted our business, but rather to give you insight into the not-so-obvious effects - reflecting what you might see on our website today.

pandemic sewing

Because there is usually so much happening in March.

First, spring/summer production is nearing completion in March. This is the merchandise that should be for sale during the peak season from April though June. Second, March is the starting point for fall/winter production - the month when our organic cotton is spun into yarns. To be knit into fabric in April and that fabric cut and sewn into garments in May and June. 

Peru has been the hardest hit country in the world in terms of deaths per capita. The government had to completely shut down large sectors of the economy  - including the apparel sector which was shuttered from March through the end of May. While it may feel like the worst of the business disruptions happened back in the spring, the ripples are even stronger today as our fall/winter production started in June instead of in March. And it's proceeding more slowly than normal.

Our hearts go out to the people of Peru, but we are so fortunate to report that everyone involved in producing Fair Indigo's clothing is safe and healthy.

Our production teams are again working, albeit at a slower pace because of social distancing on the workshop floor, more time for cleaning, and face shields in addition to masks. Sewing seams for an eight-hour shift is challenging enough with no facial barriers!

pandemic sewing

The main reason our facility was allowed to partially open in late May was because they are producing cotton face masks for the government to distribute throughout the country. While we would love to offer these masks on our website, the Peruvian government is, at least temporarily, not allowing their export while there is a huge need for them in Peru.

So what does this mean in terms of what you'll see on our website now?

  1. Much of our spring/summer merchandise arrived in July and August instead of March and April. So if you're fortunate enough to live in a warmer climate or forward-planning enough to think ahead to next spring, you're in luck!
  2. Our fall/winter merchandise which normally arrives in August and September, is arriving in November. And because it's so late, we had to cancel orders on many items, prioritizing more seasonless designs like our Forever Organic Tees. We are cautiously hopeful we'll be able to be in a somewhat better seasonal position next spring.

In short, the pandemic has made everything SLOWER. From the time it takes to transport cotton from the farm to the spinning mill to the shipping times you may experience as our clothing makes its way through the overwhelmed delivery services like USPS and UPS.

But coming back to that word SLOWER. It may be time to stop thinking of 'slow' as a four-letter word. We all have been conditioned to expect and receive everything faster, faster, faster. The pandemic has shown it's just not always possible. But maybe it can also show us there is a better way to think about the world - a SLOWER world. And a better way to think about our clothes - SLOW FASHION. More on that in the next blog post - which may or may not be!

Robert Behnke

Robert Behnke
Co-Founder & President

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