Who made your pants?
Back in February 2012, I packed up a big blue suitcase and took our travelling pants off to The Good Fashion Show in London. By then, Who Made Your Pants? had existed for three years. We’d delivered a load of English, employability and basic sewing training to over forty women in Southampton, and created a handful of jobs. We had one style of pants that we sold in a variety of colours – our beautiful stretch lace shorts, ‘Aimee’. I had been working on it full time, I was being paid more often than not. It felt good.
I remember that we were in the market area next to the THTC T shirts stand. I remember that my good friend Sarah volunteered to help me out all day, and that I had a massive panic because the five pairs of boots that Doctor Martens were loaning us for the show had, somehow, been sent to Ireland. DMs came to the rescue and sent another five pairs from a store locally, saving the day.
I also remember thinking that, yes, Who Made Your Pants? was really happening. It was Really Real.
It’s quite something to look back now and see just how far we’ve come since then. That Really Real of 2012 has been completely swallowed up by where we are today. Two years later we have four (and a half – we’ve made and sold Man Pants but our sourcing doesn’t work for them so they are on hold pending a new supply model) styles on sale – Aimee, Cecilia, Henrietta and Rosalind. We have sustained most of the jobs we created and made a few more. There are ten of us working in Southampton on a regular basis now – me full time, a part time office manager and eight women in our tiny factory making the pants.
We’ve promoted one of our team from within to Superviser; have broken bread with The Green Party and introduced the team to local MPs. We have a waiting list of over seventy women with more regularly coming and knocking on our door.
By no means has it been easy and by no means has it been flawless. But we know that our team love their jobs, we know that our wonderful supporters love our pants, and we know that we intend to keep doing what we’re doing for a good long while yet.
Given how much has changed in the last two years, we’re champing at the bit to find out what happens next. Who knows what it might be! Roll on 2015!!
Who Made Your Pants is a social business in Southampton UK creating jobs for women who are refugees by turning perfect fabrics left over from the underwear industry into gorgeous new pants and jobs. Established in 2008, it made its first pants and jobs in 2009. All workers are named on the business website so consumers know exactly who made their pants.
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