Helping garment workers get better pay doesn’t necessarily mean paying more for your clothes. Karim said unnecessary “middlemen” drive up the price of clothes and cutting them can lower it.
“I used to buy clothes that cost hundreds of dollars, and the people in the manufacturing get a tenth of the cost,” Karim said. “It really sparked me that there are improvements we can make in this space, especially in the supply chain.”
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Dhakai is essentially a shorter connection between small and medium-sized clothing brands and more than 500 “verified and compliant” clothing manufacturers, some of which collect rainwater, are LEED certified, and pay a living wage, said Karim. He says it saves brands at least 30% on sourcing costs while giving factories more money.
Designers can also virtually tour factories and see what products they can make and in what quantities, as well as things like they have solar power or child care facilities for their workers.
“It’s a huge trend,” Karim said. A majority of millennials and Gen Z are “willing to pay more if the product is ethically backed”.
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While working to start Dhakai in 2020, he met Cassandra Dittmer, a Muscatine native and celebrity stylist who co-founded the CD Studio store in partnership with Dhakai. The duo raised more than $ 10,000 through a recent Kickstarter initiative and plan to build 40 new drinking water wells in Bangladesh with a portion of the proceeds.