FOR WORKERS
Special Items works directly with designers and their teams. We exist to uplift and empower our partnering designers. We pay our designers more than double the current industry standard of profit shares from the sale of their designs. We know investing in creators will lead to higher-quality collections, access to fair wage for their team and foster long term relationships. This is mutually beneficial for our whole community.

An estimated 14 million physical garment workers around the globe are earning less than half a living wage - this is a violation of human rights.

The Asia Pacific is commonly referred to as the world’s garment factory, with more than 40 million workers producing the fast fashion we consume at an ever-increasing rate. The majority of these people work in unsafe conditions and never make enough money to lift themselves or their families out of poverty.

1,134 human lives were lost when the 2013 Rana Plaza factory collapsed on garment workers in Bangladesh.
SPOTLIGHT ON WORKERS RIGHTS
The 2020 media exposé of China’s Uighur systemic cotton slavery put a spotlight on the fashion industry's human rights abuse. Cotton is the second most common fabric in the manufacturing of physical fashion. One in five cotton garments on the global marketplace is tainted by forced labor, including, but not exclusive to, the Uyghur region.

Forced labor is a central part of the ethnic cleansing program being carried out by the Chinese government, which systematically targeted the Uyghur population and other Turkic and Muslim-majority peoples and subjected them to involuntary labor and “re-education”. Several countries, including the US, officially declared this campaign a genocide.

The Uyghur region only accounts for 20% of forced labor within the cotton industry. Modern slavery in the fashion industry is still an ongoing issue which needs to be solved.

The existing physical fashion model creates systemic inequality and social injustice by relying on low-cost labor to produce cheap designs. It disproportionately affects communities of hardworking garment workers who face economic disadvantage and are barely paid living wages. They are trapped in a cycle of inequality.
Precision Walking Competition in Japan. Instagram image via @supernormal.nyc
FOR DESIGNERS
Special Items reduce the barriers to entry into the fashion market. We are designer-focused. We do not (and will never) ask for rights to your collections plus we set our margins at double the current industry standard. We are here to push the digital fashion agenda, not limit it. After all, how will we all grow as a digital fashion community together if our designers are held creatively captive?! We’re focused on uplifting and empowering our designers.

Special Items champion the human element of digital design. We want to share their stories, inspirations, and visions of the new world.

Penetrating the physical fashion industry as an emerging designer is hard. It is an uphill battle from unpaid internships, the high cost of living due to fashion houses existing in major cities, nepotism, and the huge upfront costs of starting a label from scratch.

Even if they fight through this adversity, independent designers are being pushed out of the market. Huge oligarchic fashion conglomerates, Zara, H&M, and Shein, have created profit machines based on mass production and minimal expenditure. This is why we’ve seen the rise of stolen designs, cheap fabric and modern slavery! These companies make it incredibly hard for young designers to succeed in an oversaturated market. They undercut the price of misappropriated, unethical designs and further warp consumer expectations of the true value of fashion.