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8 years ago a huge building in Bangladesh, hosting several fashion production companies collapsed. This happened even though there had been warnings and workers were afraid of going to work for a while. But the threat of losing their jobs was even bigger. Over 1.000 people died and even more suffered severe trauma.
2 years later I traveled to Bangladesh to see for myself a picture of the situation. I visited several production places, tried to speak with workers which was not easy as everybody was afraid. I tried myself how it feels to sew under time pressure and a big boss watching me and stopping the time. I was able to visit a seamstress at „home“ in case you can call this tiny place which she is sharing with another seamstress a home. In my interview with her, she told me that she has not seen her two young daughters for months, which made me start crying immediately.
I met survivors of the Rana Plaza Disaster, who had been trapped and wounded under wreckage for hours and even days. They had the strength to tell me in detail how that felt and what they were thinking in that moment.
But my trip was not for the purpose of pointing fingers at someone. I also wanted to see what the possibilities of changing things in the industry could look like. I also met Nazma Akter, a union leader, an incredibly positive and inspiring woman, who is helping hundreds of women in women cafes. Here they learn simple things like reading a clock so they know at what point they are working overtime. And they learn how to have the right arguments for a negotiation with their boss for a better salary or better conditions. It is mainly the women who work in the fashion industry in Bangladesh, helping to feed their husbands and entire families.
My trip to Bangladesh was very disturbing. I have learned a lot. 6 years have passed. A lot of good things have happened since, but also a lot of things have gotten worse. We are now facing an industry which is called „Ultra Fast Fashion“, a wording I could not think of years ago.
Ever since I started my brand, I wanted to bring joy and strength to people and not harm people in the process. This is the reason why I do work like I do, why I produce the way I do. In very small quantities, either right outside of Berlin or in Stettin Poland, which is a 1,5 hour car drive from here and why I use high quality materials sourced from Europe. I stick to my black universe not only because I love it, but also because it is classical and timeless and you will never get bored or outdated with your esther perbandt piece. All fabric leftovers are reused next season. Buttons are made of stone nut. No animals are harmed. Yes, you probably think twice before you treat yourself with an esther perbandt product. They have their price. But it is made with passion, quality and love. And I want my customers to have it for 10, 20 or 30 years.
I am born ready but I am not born as an angel, I am not innocent. There are probably lots of things I still need to do better. Turning a company into a more sustainable one is a process. It needs many of little steps. But I am on my way, listening and reacting wherever I can.
Let’s make fashion great again