An Interview with Taylor Johnston of Gamine Co (Part Two)

Women and children are the majority of the exploited and violated work forces. What is the importance of the status of women’s and children’s rights in the ethical and sustainable fashion world too?

It’s incredibly important. We navigate a narrative of women’s rights through our garments as we are a company of women for women. And beyond that we’re working on products that directly challenge the accepted ideas of what it means to be feminine and be treated fairly in the workplace.

Children are the most vulnerable population. Women tend to have less status than men in societies including the right to decent working conditions, decent pay, to vote, and so on. What is the relationship between the need to implement women’s rights and children’s rights?

Obviously women’s rights trickle down to the family level-when a woman is able to support her family, keep her children out of the workforce, etc. that creates a positive, direct relationship between the need to connect and implement women’s rights and children’s rights.

Child labour and slavery are problems, major ones. These include children throughout the world. Tens of millions of children in the case of child labour and a few million for child slavery. How can individuals get the word out about these other rights violations?

Given that we live in a world where one can filter or self-select news, it’s never been more important to ask important questions, seek answers, and vote with your checkbook. I tend to think the smallest actions you can take–asking a question, supporting a brand with a clear production model–are the strongest.

How can individuals, designers, fashion industries, and consumers begin to work to implement those rights so that these vulnerable populations in many countries of the world have better quality of life?

I think it’s extraordinarily important to demand more sustainably produced products, textiles, and trims. No matter what, we simply cannot escape the full, true cost of manufacturing in our own backyard, or further ashore.

What topics most interest you?

I believe in the idea of feeding oneself with a steady diet of ideas that exist directly outside of one’s work. That said, even though I spend so much of my work life thinking about plants, Nature (with a capital N), sustainability, patterns, etc. I find that with any free time I am afforded I often pour over some garment/book/painting that has some relationship to my work–I truly do what I love!

Did you have a mentor in this work?

I am blessed to name my pattern maker as my mentor—from her collective decades in the apparel industry I’ve learned (and continue) to learn so much about making clothing with a low environmental and social footprint.

Have you mentored others?

Certainly in my work as a gardener, and most recently I’ve tried to give back to a number of keen students in the fashion industry. I recently took part in a seminar at Northeastern University focused on fashion start-ups.

What are the importance of mentors in the fashion world for professional, and personal, development?

As in any field, you learn by doing and to be able to have access to a bank of wisdom in any form is truly invaluable.

From personal observations, more women than men involve themselves in the fashion industry by a vast margin of difference at all levels. Why?

I can’t account for the data, but I will note that I know almost an equal number of men and women pursuing their interests in fashion-be it behind a camera, on the cutting room, or in ecommerce.

What personal fulfillment comes from this work for you?

The thank you notes we receive from around the world from women who appreciate the socially and environmentally responsible ethos behind our workwear. This business truly grew out a hope to do things better and it’s a wonderful feeling to know we’re making positive impact in women’s lives in some small way.

What other work are you involved in at this point in time?

I’m a full time gardener by trade in addition to running Gamine.

Any recommended authors or fashionistas (or fashionistos)?

Emily Spivack, Rebecca Tuite, Sheila Heti/Heidi Julavits, Leanne Shapton.

Any recommended means of contacting Gamine Co?

We love to hear from folks-a casual hello on social media (@gamine_co) or a missive via email:

Any feelings or thoughts in conclusion based on the conversation today?

We are grateful for our community of hardworking sisters and just wanted to take a minute to thank them for all of their support!

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About the Author

Scott Douglas Jacobsen researches and presents independent panels, papers, and posters, and with varied research labs and groups, and part-time in landscaping and gardening, and runs In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal.

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