Behind the scenes at the garment factory

(Top) Local factory owner Susan and our founder Nadine reviewing a sample (Bottom) The factory floor (Right) Our mompreneur founder and her son saying hello at the factory. Photography by JB Candid Photo is copyrighted.
slow-fashion symbols recycled plastic bottles empowering female garment workers with fair wages


  • Good quality
  • Clean environment
  • Fairness for both consumers and producers

It represents all apparel manufacturing and selling processes that are eco, ethical and green in one unified word. It's a revolutionary approach in the fashion world because it encourages slowing down rather than speeding up production, to emphasize quality over quantity and ensure thorough understanding of a products environmental and social impact.

C H E A P    C L O T H I N G   I S   V E R Y    E X P E N S I V E

Traditional fast-fashion brands (think H&M) rely on the mass production of globalized trends to make a profit. They sell high volume at very low prices, keeping shelves overstocked with every size and color to never miss a sale. Ever wondered who buys all of the stuff you see in shopping malls? The answer is they don't. Mass amounts of excess unsold inventory end up in warehouses and eventually dumped into landfills. There are textile recycling plants in place but the estimated percentage being recycled ranges from a mere 1 - 20%. Building inventory is a huge financial risk that brands make every season, a risk they try to lower by negotiating the lowest possible prices with factories. Not wanting to be outbid, factory owners have no choice but to underbid contracts and make their workers pay the price in the form of rock bottom wages. After securing the orders specialists are hired by the factory to figure out where they can cut corners during production to save costs - aka; reduce product quality. 

Leftover inventory is an estimated $1 trillion dollar problem worldwide with 13 million tonnes of clothing filling up our landfills annually, meanwhile garment factory workers continue to be grossly underpaid. 

M A N - M A D E    D I S A S T E R S

  • In 2012 a factory fire in Bangladesh killed 117 workers and injured 200 more, making it the deadliest factory fire in human history. Major clients including Walmart and Ikea denied awareness of unsafe working conditions despite documents uncovered suggesting otherwise. Walmart proceeded to deliberately block reforms that would require retailers to pay more in order to improve safety standards in Bangladesh, stating "it is not financially feasible for the brands to make such investments." 
  • In 2013 building owners ignored warning signs resulting in a factory collapse that killed 1300 people and injured 2500 more, making it the deadliest factory collapse in human history. Major clients included Walmart and Joe Fresh, among 23 others. Walmart refused to sign a proposal that would compensate the victims. Victims were only compensated if they could provide DNA evidence of their relatives death, a process that proved difficult for many, and more than 2 dozen families remain without compensation (as of September 28th, 2019).

F A L S E    P R O M I S E S

  • In a bold 2017 statement H&M promised to ensure all of its 850,000 workers were paid a living wage by 2018, a promise they have since failed to make good on as pointed out the by the Clean Clothes Campaign, an organization that says H&M is now even less transparent than ever before. Low profits is not the culprit, in 2017 the Chairman of H&M earned over 800 million (as of September 28th, 2019).

Slow-fashion values advocating against child labour, material waste and unsafe working conditions

(Top) UNICEF estimates there are 170 million children worldwide employed in the clothing industry (Bottom) Burned sweatshop garment factory after a fire disaster (Right) Used clothing for textile recycling. Photo credits, copyrights apply: (Top) 271 Eak Moto / Shutterstock (Bottom) Baloncici / Shutterstock (Right) Martin De Jong / Shuttertstock.


A R E   Y O U   A   W I S H F U L   D O N A T O R ?

Ever been at the dump to witness an entire truck of recycling being dumped into the landfill? This is what happens to recycling that isn't cleaned and sorted properly, seriously.

The same thing happens with used clothing. Many second hand stores are run by volunteers and are painfully understaffed. With resources spread thin and delivery bins overflowing they can't afford to sort through every item. Garbage bags that appear to contain cheap, warped, full of holes clothing are sent straight to recycling plants where they will most likely find their way to the dump.

Though textile recycling plants are in place the percentage of garments actually being processed is in the single digits, more than 90% still ends up in landfills. Frankly, nobody wants poor quality used clothing, even third world countries are trying to put a ban on import due to the strain it puts on their garment industries and landfills. 


C O R E   V A L U E S

For Slow Fashion to emerge as a sustainable fashion model, a team of three researchers from the Master’s in Strategic Leadership Towards Sustainability Program in Sweden have recommended that Slow Fashion Values be used to guide the entire supply chain. 

Just like one-size fits all rarely fits anyone, the values of slow-fashion are not meant to be a standard solution. Instead, they're meant to encourage creative thinking and be adapted by those wishing to support the movement. They are intended to spark a conversation among designers, manufacturers, retailers and others about what changes can be made in their process to improve environmental and social impact.

What are the values? They're listed below, along with what Bewildher is doing to incorporate them into our process:



Slow Fashion producers recognize that they are all interconnected to the larger environmental and social system and make decisions accordingly. Slow Fashion encourages a systems thinking approach because it recognizes that the impact of our collective choices affect both the environment and people.


While ceasing the production of new apparel seems like a simple solution, with the millions of jobs that would be lost it would not be an ethical one. Rather than halting production, we need to make a steady shift towards more environmental practices while also ensuring workers have job protection, good pay and basic human rights. With consumers ever attacking brands on their prices, affordability is the biggest challenge. Yes - some fast-fashion brands are extorting people and the planet so badly as to experience mass profits, however this is not the case for most brands. Many fashion brands become so heavily in debt they end up filing for bankruptcy, a quick google search will give you a list of some big names recently gone under, and small to medium brands are just barely keeping afloat.

The big picture problem is that slow fashion is not affordable; brands fear the majority of their customers will object to paying the much higher cost of eco-friendly and ethical clothing. Bewildher addresses this by encouraging pre-orders - pre-orders reduce the risk of material waste from leftover inventory, for monetary savings we put towards offering a discounted pre-order price and giving back more on our customers behalf. We also encourage word-of-mouth referrals to help with affordability, passing on the savings of reduced marketing costs to our customers in the form of store credit. 

The eco-friendly printing facility

(Top) Cindy, owner of the printing house EcoDigiTec, getting panels ready for printing (Bottom) Our founder Nadine making sure everything has printed okay with the help of her son (Right) Birds eye view of the printing facility Ecodigitec. The machine you see is using heat to transfer the ink from recycled paper onto the fabric, a process that require no harsh chemicals and does not waste dye. Photography by JB Candid Photo is copyrighted.



Reducing raw materials by decreasing fashion production can allow the earth’s regenerative capabilities to take place. This will alleviate pressure on natural cycles so fashion production can be in a healthy rhythm with what the earth can provide.


While consumers often outwardly object to the higher cost of slow fashion, systematically the higher price point helps to slow down consumption. Many consumers fail to consider the ability of people to continue to support their families when they think about stopping manufacturing to fix the fashion industry. As we slow down consumption to protect the planet, we need to simultaneously take measures to protect the people who make the products we love. Instead of succumbing to price point pressure, we recognize the role price plays in helping to slow down consumption and alleviate the pressure high-production puts on the planet. Rather than feeling like we owe affordability to our customers, we choose to feel like we owe protection to the planet and to the people making our products. The current form of capitalism, making products as cheap as possible while charging as much as possible, needs to be penalized by the Government, and their needs to be incentives for brands making products as high-quality as possible while paying workers living wages. This shift will use cost as a way to slow down consumption while making sure workers don't pay the price! 



Slow Fashion producers strive to maintain ecological, social and cultural diversity. Biodiversity is important because it offers solutions to climate change and environmental degradation. Diverse and innovative business models are encouraged; independent designers, larger fashion houses, second-hand, vintage, recycled, fashion leasing, your local knitting club and clothing swaps are all recognized in the movement. Keeping traditional methods of garment & textile making and dyeing techniques alive also gives vibrancy and meaning to what we wear and how it was made.


By emerging as a non-traditional pre-order only activewear brand, Bewildher can offer an innovative way for active women to reduce their carbon footprint, be more environmentally friendly and have social impact that empowers other women. 



    Participating in campaigns and codes of conduct can help to secure the fair treatment of workers. Some brands have joined the Asian Floor Wage Alliance, Ethical Trading Initiative, and the Fair Wear Foundation, among others. Labels are also supporting local communities by offering skill development and helping them to trade. 


    Bewildher has consciously chosen to work with a local female-owner garment factory that pays employees fair wages. We choose not to negotiate on unit prices, but rather to pay a little more while encouraging the workers to slow down enough to ensure quality. With fast-fashion brands nickle and diming factory owners on their prices, threatening to produce elsewhere if not given a rock bottom price, the culture in clothing manufacturing has developed into one of stressful and unsafe working conditions and cutting corners in a way that compromises quality. At Bewildher we take a firm stance against these practices and instead choose to practice gratitude towards the female factory owner and her team, knowing that words of thanks and encouragement go so far in taking pride in ones work and subsequently raising quality. While our own production is local and ethical, we aspire to give back to the fashion industry as a whole by making donations to organizations like the Clean Clothes Campaign, who work to ensure safe working conditions and fair wages for garment workers elsewhere in the world. What happens to women around the world impacts us all. 

    Meet the woman who sews your clothes

      (Top) A sewing machine operator at our Vancouver based garment factory (Bottom) Susan, the factory owner, and our founder Nadine checking things out (Right) The Cyan Sunbre leggings being sewn. Photography by JB Candid Photo is copyrighted.



      Designers can meet human needs by co-creating garments and offering fashion with emotional significance. By telling the story behind a garment or inviting the customer to be part of the design process, the needs of creativity, identity and participation can be satisfied.

      OUR TAKE

      There's a reason brands never show you behind the scene photos of their factories, because it would evoke a negative emotional reaction. Even where there are controlled minimum wages and safe working conditions factories look and feel sweat-shop like. In an effort to raise awareness for working conditions and connect active women to the women who sew activewear, Bewildher is giving you a behind the scenes look. We also understand that it doesn't matter how eco-friendly or ethical a garment is, if it doesn't look, feel, fit and perform well you're not going to buy it. This is why we strive to design the highest quality, most aesthetically pleasing garments possible and invite you to provide honest feedback, contribute design ideas while offering a money back guarantee.



          Collaboration and co-creation ensure trusting and lasting relationships that will create a stronger movement. Building relationships between producers and co-producers is a key part of the movement.

          OUR TAKE

          Factory relationships are traditionally strained, with brands pressuring owners to reduce prices while improving delivery dates. Bewildher is working to establish a mutually beneficial relationship with our factory, by proceeding with understanding and compassion, offering extra financial incentive to deliver the highest quality goods and working within reasonable timelines. The above has allowed Bewildher to reduce the standard 10-15% estimated return rate down to 5%. To even further reduce waste, rather than discarding faulty garments we work with the factory to have them repaired and made fit for resale.

            7. RESOURCEFULNESS


            Slow-Fashion brands focus on using local materials and resources when possible and try to support the development of local businesses and skills.

            OUR TAKE

            All of Bewildher's garments are locally sewn and printed from materials locally sourced, and only sold in smaller independently owned boutique retail stores.



              Encouraging classic design over passing trends will contribute to the longevity of garments. A number of Slow Fashion designers are ensuring the longevity of their clothing by sourcing high quality fabrics, offering traditional cuts and creating beautiful, timeless pieces.

              OUR TAKE

              By using only high quality long lasting material and offering each print as a limited-edition release Bewildher seeks to make each garment feel like a special keepsake, a work of art to be cherished.

              What a small local garment factory looks like

                (All Photos) This is where your clothes are made, in Vancouver, BC, Canada by these women. Photography by JB Candid Photo is copyrighted.



                Slow Fashion producers need to sustain profits and increase their visibility in the market to be competitive, resulting in prices that are often higher because they incorporate sustainable resources and fair wages. To be accessible to consumers, they must look for creative ways to add value to products while lowering prices, so that when given the choice between two similar products conscious shoppers can opt for the sustainable and ethical version.

                OUR TAKE

                While affordability is not something slow fashion brands can or should guarantee to consumers, helping to make slow fashion as accessible as possible is important in ensuring the global success of this movement. Based on traditional markups, our leggings would need to retail for $150-$200+ in store, a price most consumers would be unwilling to save up for before shopping, putting the sustainability of our slow fashion brand at risk. Recognizing that we need to find creative ways to reduce our costs and help make the price more accessible to consumers, we brainstormed that pre-orders and a referral program would be two key ways to help achieve this. Pre-ordering reduces material waste and interest paid on financing, for cost savings we can pass on in the form of a discount, and word-of-mouth referrals reduce our biggest expense of all - paid advertising.

                  10. PRACTICING CONSCIOUSNESS

                  CORE VALUE DESCRIPTION

                  This means making decisions based on personal passions, an awareness of the connection to others and the environment, and the willingness to act responsibly. Within the Slow Fashion movement, many people love what they do, and aspire to make a difference in the world in a creative and innovative way.

                  OUR TAKE

                  Bewildher knows that being conscious means to not only be aware of our surroundings but to take action. It means responding to the environmental and social issues present in the fashion industry by finding ways in our process to make a difference and be the change we want to see in the world.

                   Slow-fashion value planting tree give back social impact sustainable conscious graphic fitness leggings

                  (All Photos) Tree planting in British Columbia, photos courtesy of One Tree Planted, whom Bewildher is actively partnered with. Photography courtesy of One Tree Planted, copyrights may apply.


                  G E T    I N V O L V E D

                  Want to be a part of the slow-fashion movement? Here are some ways:

                  1. Many consumers think only big corporations have the power to make a difference, but in fact corporations are legally bound to make profits for their investors and must do whatever consumer data tells them will make the most money. If YOU stop buying their products and only buy eco-friendly and ethical, they will have the data they need to show their investors that becoming eco-friendly and ethical is in their best interest too. In the words of the good witch, you've always held the power my dear.
                  2. Commit to giving back for each purchase you make, below are three ways that give back in direct alignment to the fashion industry. Bewildher makes these commitments for you so when you shop with us it's already happening on your behalf.
                  3. Donate to plant a tree for every garment you purchase from brands that are not carbon negative or neutral. Each tree will sequester 48lbs of CO2 annually once fully mature and it only costs $1 USD.
                  4.  Ensure the garments you purchase were sewn for fair wages, or make a donation to the clean clothes campaign, an organization working to improve conditions in the global fashion industry.
                  5. Become a member of 1% For The Planet and commit to donating 1% of your gross annual income to the planet ~ individuals can participate or pitch the idea to your place of work.
                  6. Help spread the word about brands aspiring to do better, like Bewildher, by joining their ambassador programs. The best part is most offer store credit in exchange for making successful referrals. Now that's win-win!
                  7. Follow @bewildher on Instagram. We regularly share our behind the scenes and creative ways we've found to be more eco-friendly and ethical, ideas we're happy to share with others. We also post monthly 'karma contests' where a small act of kindness will get you entered to win leggings.
                  8. Sign-up to our newsletter. Our welcome emails will include a code for 10% off your first purchase and our monthly emails include behind the scenes insights. If you don't get the pop-up, you'll find it at the bottom of this page.
                  9. 'Start with why': read our founders story which includes her own personal core values, then come up with your own list of core values. Connect those values to events in your life when you discovered they were important to you. When you don't know what you stand for, you'll fall for anything. Having a set of core values to guide your decisions makes it easier to make good decisions, ones you can feel good about every time.
                  10. Shop Bewildher's slow-fashion activewear, we are so grateful for your support!


                  A heartfelt thank-you for following and supporting our slow-fashion journey!
                  ~ Nadine, founder and designer
                  Human hands still make your clothes
                  (Left) A special moment that reminds our founder why advocating against child labor and ensuring safe working conditions and fair wages matters (Right) A reminder that even commercially made clothing is still very much 'handmade.' Photography by JB Candid Photo is copyrighted.
                  Ask the brands you buy from "who made my clothes?" - Fashion Revolution.


                  Article credits:

                  • The titles and opening paragraph of this article have been closely re-written from online sources, including Wikipedia, in order to give the most accurate definition of "slow-fashion" for educational purposes.
                  • The term "slow-fashion" was originally coined by Kate Fletcher
                  • The body paragraphs of this article are largely based on the personal experiences of the founder of Bewildher, supported by online research, and are written in her own words.
                  • The bullet quotes in this article are based on online research and have been closely re-written to support the educational purpose of this article.
                  • The values of slow-fashion were written by "a team of three researchers from the Master's in Strategic Leadership Towards Sustainability Program in Sweden" and have been listed here for educational purposes.
                  • "Our take" on the guiding values of slow-fashion were written by Bewildher's founder. They are based on her personal experiences and describe what she is doing to improve her design and development process to be alignment with the values of slow-fashion.




                  Previous update: September 28th, 2019.

                  Recent update: September 27th, 2021