“Change starts with your underwear” according to PACT Apparel, a company that offers fair trade, organic cotton socks and underthings.
One evening last summer, I Googled “fair trade underwear” and found PACT. I’d read Vincent Miller’s “Slavery and Commodity Chains” about what he calls the “commodity veil.” Basically, Miller points out that we know a great deal about the specs of the products we buy, but we know little about the conditions under which most of our stuff is made. One of Miller’s challenges to the reader is to “purchase items that we know were produced in a just and sustainable manner” and to “[c]ommit to buying at least one of these regularly.”
I needed some new skivvies and thought I’d start there.
PACT’s manufacturing is wind-powered and fair trade. Their cotton is certified organic. I feel like a better person just for browsing the lookbook.
This is not a surprise, but it’s important to remember that when shopping for ethically made clothing, you have to reconsider what you know about price. This is not the Hanes Her Way multi-pack for $8. Fair trade proponents would argue that PACT’s prices are closer to what our clothes should cost, if low price didn’t trump quality or humane working conditions. Also, as an owner of multi multi-packs, I have to admit that the great asset is quantity; never sumptuously soft to begin with, those briefs and bikinis become scratchy and sad with repeated washes.
So PACT’s goods would soothe my conscience. But how would they feel on my nether regions?
I ordered PACT’s Everyday Boy Short in black, a two pack at $23.99. I’m usually medium-ish, but I ordered a large. Slightly too-big u-wear is much more tolerable than too snug. They fit well, and the cotton lives up to its hyperbolic ad copy. I’d describe them as “soft as an angel’s eyelash,” to borrow a phrase from Ariel Garfinkel.
I enlisted WanderHubs in this test effort, too, to try out the men’s line. The exchange went something like: “if I buy you premium underwear, can I interview you about it for my blog? Success. “Comfortable” was how Hubs described the boxer briefs. He continued, “A lot of inexpensive boxer briefs skimp on the length of the inseam, but these didn’t.”
I’m quite tempted by the array of patterns in PACT’s products: Mountain Range? Basketweave? Behold the Windmill Boy Short, Women’s Bramble Leggings, and Prairie Stripe socks shown in this post.
PACT pledges to be “the second best thing in your pants.” I’m more of a fan of the single entendre underwear ad, myself, but they’ve got a great product and an important mission. I’m sold.
Photo Credit: www.wearpact.com