Selvie – Making a living from sustainable fashion

This is Selvie, the other half of Vero & Selvie. Selvie sewed the t-shirt worn by Vero. For a decent wage and under fair working conditions using sustainable, chemical-free cotton. Selvie was fortunate: she experienced first-hand that clothing doesn’t have to stand for the exploitation of humans and nature. It’s people like Selvie who produce our clothes around the world. Let’s make sure that our decisions as consumers make sustainable, fair clothing the rule rather than the exception.

Selvie left her native city of Valparai in southern India and moved 130 kilometres north to Tirupur in 2004 after finishing school and getting married. There she worked in different garment factories where she was paid by completed piece until 2010. Like most garment workers in India, Selvie was a seasonal worker earning an irregular income in some months rather than throughout the year. Even when she was working in large factories she couldn’t be sure that her employer would pay her social insurance contributions. Selvie earned around 4,000 rupees each month — approximately 55 euros.

Selvie moved back to her native city Valparai in 2010 but couldn’t find work as a seamstress there as many of the large garment factories were shutting down at that time. In 2014 she began working seasonally in Tirupur again.

Selvie was employed by Mila Fair Clothing in 2016, the garment factory in which the 3Freunde label’s Selvie-shirt is produced. She is no longer paid by completed piece but receives a fixed yearlong contract and a regular salary of 14,500 rupees (around 200 euros) per month. For the first time in her life, Selvie has one day free to spend with her family each week. And her social insurance contributions are now really paid in to the insurer.

3Freunde is one of over 100 companies [in Germany] to have joined forces with NGOs, trade unions and the German government to form the umbrella organisation Partnership for Sustainable Textiles. The partnership pursues the goal of ensuring that all workers in the garment and textile supply chain will in future work under conditions as good as those currently enjoyed by Selvie.