Food for Thought - Ethical Manufacturing in Dancewear
Author, Robyn L. Hartley
A dancer slips into their leotard, tights, warm-ups, and shoes; proceeds to saunter into the studio in unmatched dancer-esque fashion; positions themselves in their favorite spot; then proceeds to push their body to boundless limits. Aiming for that unattainable goal of perfection.
All for the sake of self-expression. For uplifting humanity. For art.
If you are a dancer you go through this routine nearly every single day. Possibly multiple times per day. But, through the intensity of your training, have you ever paused to consider where all these tools that aid in your dance journey come from? That leotard - who made it? The materials that make up your shoes - how are they manufactured? The beloved dance bag that carries those items you simply cannot dance without - what is its origin story?
Sustainable Manufacturing - What it is and why it matters.
According to the EPA sustainable manufacturing is ‘. . . the creation of manufactured products through economically-sound processes that minimize negative environmental impacts while conserving energy and natural resources. Sustainable manufacturing also enhances employee, community, and product safety.’
In other words, it is taking care of the environment and making the world a safer place. Definitely something we artists can all get behind!
In this age of technology, where we have instant access to information, one might think it would be second nature to do a quick check into how the products we use align with sustainable manufacturing. From the condition the employees work in to the sources the materials are derived from - these are details we can find out through a couple of quick taps on our smartphones.
Yet, how often do we carry through with this? How often do we take responsibility for our purchasing power?
How It Applies To Dancers
Dancers are creatures of habit and we become fiercely loyal to brands. We search high and low for the shoe that best supports our foot, the bodywear that accentuates our most flattering lines, and the accessories that soothe our weary muscles. And rightfully so. Dance is no pretty little thing. It requires absolute dedication to extreme work. We don’t just want products that help us, we need products that serve us well. And when we find ones that meet our requirements we cling to them.
But I offer that we add one more requirement to our list. Is it ethically produced?
We are artists, after all. Our job, above all else, is to pull ourselves (and thereby humanity) up to higher standards. Along the way we entertain, we bring joy to others, and we move through incredible amounts of self-discovery. But how much more effective could we be if we took a moment or two to consider the full scope of our influence?
Choosing to only buy products with ethical and responsible manufacturing practices would undoubtedly have long-reaching effects globally. St Louis Dancewear is committed to stocking inventory from suppliers who take this responsibility seriously. We believe in providing our community with dancewear solutions they can have confidence in - both in the way the products perform and the way in which they are created.
We invite you to join us in our mission to bring a higher level of thought and care regarding your purchases. Every individual has a choice and every choice has an impact. While perfection will always remain unattainable we choose to reach for it all the same. Through doing so we know we will arrive at something better. Something that fights against deterioration. Something that uplifts. Something that reflects beauty and life. Something like . . . art.
Robyn L Hartley is writer specializing in dance. She has been a dance educator for the past 20 years and is the founder of Kaleidoscope Dance Theatre. She lives in St Louis, MO with her three children and works at St Louis Dancewear.