Plumb Lines

September 29, 2009

Pro-life Fashion?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Matthew Schmitz @ 3:35 pm

I’ve been told that being pro-life isn’t just about opposition to abortion, it’s also about the celebration of new life.  Well, here’s your party outfit:

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“We want to highlight the belly,” says designer Marisol Rodríguez. “This is happiness that is showing through your clothes.”

If the clothing line’s design shows a fun-loving appreciation for new life, the way it is made is equally telling:

She was particularly troubled by high unemployment among women who are in their 50s — many of them fired from jobs despite their skills, but not yet eligible for retirement assistance, which begins at age 62. “What do you do when no one wants to hire you, and you still have to support your family and pay your rent?” Rodríguez asks.

Hoping to help this segment of the female population that has fallen through the cracks, the designer and her 63-year-old mother teamed up: they established a small workshop in Bogota that employs women in their 50s to hand-craft goods. Housed in a two-bedroom rental apartment, their Bogota Factory doubles as a showroom over which Rodríguez’s mother presides — people come in and see samples of clothing, knitwear and painted wood pieces, then place orders. Mother calls in workers on an as-needed basis (currently there are three women, paid an hourly wage), while daughter provides design and business expertise from afar [. . .]

The idea of expanding the business and exporting goods to Europe is tantalizing to Rodríguez, who is the first to admit that Bogota Factory’s small-scale, low-tech, labor-intensive operation is not the most efficient business model. Sending the fabric to a laser-cutting facility would certainly get the cotton cut faster, and with greater precision, than having a worker use a pair of scissors to execute the job by hand. Then again, the entire dress line could easily be produced overseas.

But for the designer and her mother, the aim is not to eliminate jobs locally, but rather to create them. They would like to be able to employ at least one more woman. Their immediate goal, however, is to offer their current workers a labor package that includes health insurance.

Need I say how (no doubt unintentionally) Catholic this all is?

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Fun hood. The baby looks kind of like it is in a minimum-security baby prison . . . did I mention that these things only cost $30?

-Matthew Schmitz

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