I try to be concientious about my clothing purchases, as do many other people. The popularity of this movement is a double edged sword, as “artisan made” has been Goop-ified to coincide with priveledge and wealth. Many use their altruistic desires as a status symbol. Because of that demand, companies try to align themselves with the liberal-minded materialists. Some even use donations as a sly form of advertising and self-promotion.
I am also a liberal-minded fashionista. So, I bought pants from The Elephant Pants and was happy with them and their mission until a friend of mine told me about her trip to Thailand and her fresh perspective of the company.
The Elephant Pants is the name of the company, but as I was told, elephant pants are incredibly popular in that part of the world. It is the name of an entire section of clothing, like jeans. So, this American company essentially named themselves “The Jeans” in an incredibly pretentious move. Furthermore, these pants are made with very cheap material. It’s threadbare which is a desirable aspect in the heat, but you can barely call it linen. My pair ripped immediately when I moved my legs too quickly. In Thailand, they sell for about $4 and my friend said most vendors told her it costs less than one dollar to make a pair. So, though this company donates one measly dollar to combat poaching, their profit margin is enormous. The Elephant Pants’ business model seems to be inflating the price exponetionally and then slapping on some trendy donation ploy for profits.
My main issue is that they could afford to donate more than just one dollar to the African Wildlife Foundation given that the pants cost cents to make. Their claims of being a benevolent company full of animal lovers is simply not true. If their primry mission was to save the elephants, they would take a smaller piece of the pie for themselves. The owners of this company spend more time and money talking about saving the elephants than they do to actually making a difference. One can safely assume that the profits they make from people like me buying these pants is more than the total donation amount. This affectation of altruism is all for profit.
The Elephant Pants is a perfect example of a company whose primary goal is to make a profit, but is disingenuous in their presentation. It also gives the impression that buying these pants is tantamount to donating time or money to a nonprofit.
Even I must admit that I wanted the pants because they’re cute and make a political statement; the company’s mission statement is what made me decide to shell out for the pants. It’s wildly unfair. I could have donated 20 bucks to an elephant sanctuary and done much more good. The pants themselves aren’t worth the money. I feel duped. I paid for the priveledge to feel good about myself and only two dollars of my money went to the manufacturing and the message of the pants. I know better now.