WHO WE ARE
Skilled Laborers Brigade (SLB) was founded by Shannon O’Hara, Rachel Kibbe and Annie Keating, veterans of the fashion and sustainability spaces, as a response to supporting those in need of PPE on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. The founders immediately recognized the problem was much larger than just the need for masks and gowns.
WhY WE ARE
SLB consists of 500+ member garment workers and factories, who work under safe conditions. We came together because the lack of domestic manufacturing in the United States is a national security issue, a climate issue, and an economic opportunity for workers and our communities.
SLB was founded in response to the crisis but has since expanded its model to include all apparel manufacturing. Leveraging our unique hybrid work-from-home domestic manufacturing process, we employ highly skilled local workforces.
HOW WE DO IT
SLB is rethinking apparel manufacturing from the start. From the way we employ people (with a worker first approach), to the materials we use and how we keep them in circulation.
Our goal is to employ more people, at fair-wages, and to manufacture sustainably. Up until the 1990's the United States had a robust apparel manufacturing economy. The loss of jobs and skillsets, since apparel manufacturing has mostly moved off-shore, is staggering to our economy and puts our security at risk. Overproduction, and lax environmental rules in other nations who manufacture our apparel, has led the fashion industry to contribute 10% of total global greenhouse gas emissions.
The good news is we still have many highly skilled people here in the US who can and want to make clothes and there are more environmentally friendly ways to make them. SLB's work-from-home model, with proprietary workflow technology, leverages both local American factories and skilled apparel workers’ home studios to create dignified jobs and a safer, more nimble way of manufacturing.
No New things.
But IF THEY ARE GOING TO BE MADE...
SLB does not believe in making new things just for the sake of making them. However, if a designer or retailer has a product they truly believe needs to be made new, then we have a responsibility to help them make them in the best way possible for the planet.
As experts in circularity and sustainability, we know that localized supply chains, where products are produced closest to where their raw materials are sourced, thereby limiting CO2 emissions, is key. We also know that designing out waste in the most damaging parts of fashion production is vital. Finally, circularity is only truly enabled when local systems are in place to recoup products and extend their lifecycles or to recycle them.
ReRepair, Reuse, UPCYCLE, BIODEGRADE...
We have a core commitment to sustainable and circular manufacturing processes. We address these challenges and opportunities from the start including:
designing close to raw material sources
design for durability
natural and biodegradable materials
purchasing from American mills whenever possible
sourcing from sustainable textile producers
designing out waste
designing for repair
upcycling and recycling