Slow Fashion

Do Not Shame Anyone For Not Buying Ethical.

This post is for those who are ethically minded or for those who try to be. I wrote a post a few months ago where I stated that I will choose to buy ethical items first before second hand because I want to support ethical companies as often as possible. On my journey to living a more caution lifestyle, I vowed to only buy new clothes ethically made or second-hand. I would casually buy second-hand because they were cheap and gave me the same feeling I would get from buying fast-fashion without supporting the companies. When I did a 3-month challenge this summer of not buying new clothes, I realized I wasn’t helping the garment workers by not buying anything. That’s what lead me to be more mindful to shop ethical first. Buying things that support an individual and gives them a livable wage is important to me.
I want to inspire others to rethink their purchases and who is being affected by it, however, I don’t want to my desire to live more ethical to not intimidate and shame someone when they aren’t able to live ethically.
When I was watching the Financial Diet video, 8 Financial Decision You Should Never Be Ashamed Of. Chelsea Fagan said that one should not feel ashamed when you have to buy fast fashion brands. She did acknowledge the problems fast fashion creates and how buying better-made clothes will last longer. With that being said, some individuals don’t have the privilege to buy ethical, good equality clothes, or have the luck to get an amazing well quality outfit from a secondhand store (secondhand shopping can be a hit or miss). I was not blinded to that fact but hearing Chelsa say that no one should shame another for buying fast fashion, made me have more realization of my own privilege to buy ethically made clothes. I do know that buying fast fashion, doesn’t make someone a terrible person, they are just someone on a budget- should they give up eating a meal to buy a shirt for $85? NO! I do know for many mommies out there, ethically made kids clothes seem like a waste because their little ones will grow out of it quickly. I know ethical living is hard. I dream of wanting more clothes from my favorite Fair Trade companies but stop myself because of my budget. And although I do believe being aware and buying ethical when possible can make a difference (slowly), I also know buying ethical isn’t going to erase the world’s problems.
Elizabeth L. Cline author of Overdressed said in her book, “Let’s talk about price. I’m not going to make a big argument that everyone should go out and overhaul their socks, underwear, and T-shirt drawer and buy slow fashion basics and underthings unless of course you can afford to and want to. Nor will I tell you to start putting your five-year-old in pricer, locally made fashion, only to have her outgrow it in a few months” (pg. 215-216). Cline interviewed, researched, and investigated the different parts of the garment industry to help readers know who is making their clothes and the impact of cheap fashion. However, I was encouraged by the end of the book when she said she’ll never tell anyone to buy slow fashion. Cline personally made the choice to buy more classy and well quality pieces, make some of her own clothes, and even will occasionally buy from fast fashion complains. She’s mindful of reducing her impact the way she can through buying less but will not preach to others to do the same.

Shelbi from Shelbzleee (YouTuber of eco and ethical living) said in one of her videos, to focus on your own habits, not the habits of others. I chose to only buy my new clothes from companies I believe match my ethics, and I buy secondhand when I’m not able to afford those clothing pieces. However, if you are unable to have the chance to do either of those things, I understand. Trying to find a good secondhand piece is a risk and if you are someone who isn’t lucky to get something great, don’t worry. If you can’t afford ethically made clothes or anything ethical, again no shame. Hopefully, those around me are encouraged to think more ethical if they can. Everyone is thinking what is best for them and their situation, whether that’s the mom with 3 kids, college student, someone trying to start their career and pay off debt, don’t break your budget because of a t-shirt. We are all trying to survive and no one should be shamed when they are trying to do what they can, with what they have.

Slow Fashion

3 Months of No New Clothes: My Take Away

In June 2018, I decided to participate in Fashion For Good summer challenge of not buying any new clothes. I posted about my first month and failed to post my second because life can be busy. I saw the post for the challenge the first Saturday of June and decided I wanted to do it and grow more in my ethical lifestyle and journey. Did it help change anything? To be honest, this summer was busy and with personal things getting in my way of wanting to blog and research, I did not center my summer around this challenge. No one had an expectation of me following through with the challenge but I wanted something to keep me accountable.

(PS: I made the top from ethically sourced fabric from Offset Warehouse during the challenge and my skirt is ethically made also)

During the 3 months, this challenge did get me thinking, “Does not buying clothes really help people?” Fashion for Good promotes ethical and sustainable living- clearly, something I care for. I saw the good in taking a break from buying new items of clothing, creating less of a demand to produce more products (therefore using fewer materials) and causing sweatshops to slow down. However, the challenge had some failures. The failure in the challenge was not that I didn’t get new clothes for my personal gain but I was not supporting companies that were going against fast-fashion, by creating livable wages for employees overseas and creating a model for the fashion industry to follow.

A Few of My Favorite Companies:

Elegantees– Employing human trafficking survivors from Nepal.

(The mustard yellow skirt is from Elegantees)

The Tote Project– Hiring survivors or women vulnerable to human trafficking. 10% of their profit goes to Two Wings, non-profit fighting against human trafficking by providing educations to high-risk areas.

Krochetkids– Providing skills and livable wages to employees overseas instead of aid and goods.

(This top is coming in the mail 😏)

Ssekos– Empowering women by employing them to help fund their way through college.

Symbology– Artisans across the globe, making a livable wage by creating clothing in their tradition.

(Received this pink kimono from my Spring Cause Box!)

There’s are more companies out there but those are the ones I’m familiar with and have some items from already.

Is it possible to only buy Fair Trade clothes?

Yes and no. Having a six-figure salary will guarantee me of only buying Fair Trade clothing and really Fair Trade everything. I have bought second-hand when I really needed a particular item and could not find it from an ethical company or was not able to pay the cost. However, I can choose to buy more ethically made clothing when I chose to buy something. I can buy Fair Trade clothing when they are on sale and enjoy a discount for signing up for their Newsletter (which is what I did with KrochetKids as I was writing this post). When I want to purchase new clothing, I will find the ethically made option first.

If you have the chance to buy an ethically made item, do it. Do your research, find a company that uses sustainable materials, is known for respecting their employees, and values their craftsmanship. You may be surprised that some of the ethically made items are the same price or slightly more than the standard retail vision. If second-hand is the option you have to pick because of a budget, then do that. If you somehow you can’t do either, buy something and make it last.

Most conscious consumers would say buying ethical should be second or third to secondhand/using up what you have. Those are good options and I recommend them as well. I just would love to see more people go the ethically made route because it is giving an individual a livable wage. It will create more opportunities for people and my hope is those individuals who were once working in sweatshops will be able to work for a Fair Trade company. We vote with our wallets, I will be voting for more respect and livable wages. I will choose to buy ethical products when I can before buying second-hand. This is the thing I will be taking from Fashion for Good summer challenge, being mindful to buy ethical first.

Slow Fashion, Uncategorized

First Month of No New Clothes Challenge.

My thoughts, research, and one minor new item in my closet. 

One thing I personally like to do is participate in a challenge. I challenge myself to eat plant-based and avoid sugar for a period of time (normally a month). I’ve also given up listening to music and social media for spiritual reasons. Giving up certain things and learning to live without them can bring some clarity and helps you to refocus on some things. For three months starting June 2018, I decided to not purchase any new clothing items.

This challenge was started by Fashion for Good, a company that is using their platform to promote good fashion practices. On their website they talk about the 5 Goods: Good Materials, Good Economy, Good Energy, Good Water and Good Lives. For the summer months, they challenge consumers to not pay new clothing items. No new first-hand clothing; use up what you have, borrow, swap, thrift, and refashion.

This challenge was not the hardest to participant in because it’s easy to not buy new clothes. The times I was upset about participating in this challenge was when some of my favorite Fair Trade clothing companies were having a special holiday sale. I did buy one new item from Susi Studio. Susi Studio is a vegan shoe company that makes their shoes from recycled water bottles and their shoes retail for $115-$135. They had a rare sale were a few items were only $24 and let me repeat that.

$135 PAIRS OF SHOES FOR $24!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(These shoes were $135)

It was a no-brainer I had to get these pair of shoes. I only own one other pair and I got them for around $40 because it was a one-day sale for Cyber Monday.

Some reading and research: 

During this no new clothes challenge, I promise myself to study more on fast fashion and the impact it has by reading Overdress: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline. In Cline’s book, she travels to the Dominican Republic to check out Alta Gracia, a garment factory owned and operated by an American company called Knights Apparel a producer of college logo clothing sold at universities. I did look up Knight Apparel and to see if they have references to their ethics and the website wasn’t allowing me to go anywhere but the homepage. Cline did say that “Knight supports the factory’s labor union and Worker Rights Consortium” (pg. 140).

  • Side note: I look up Workers Rights Consortium (WRC) and discovered it’s an independent labor rights monitoring organization to combat sweatshops and protect workers who work in garment factories and produce others goods. The organization was founded in 2000 when university administrators, students, and international labor rights experts discovered the truth of overseas factory workers. They wanted something better for clothing items that bear any university logo. WRC had 44 universities supports since starting and now they work 190 universities and are still growing! 🙂

Cline asks the production manager, Gemma Castro if huge brands such as Gap, Old Navy, American Eagle, and Calvin Klein would order from Alta Gracia’s. Castro said, “I don’t think so. This is a very different factory” (pg. 141). Castro said that big brands are strict about health and safety codes, local labor, and wage laws but these brands do not pay more than the legal minimum for the country they are in. “And most countries minimum wage is not enough for people to live decently.” (pg. 141).  This fact I knew for a while now. I knew big brands were using sweatshops and factories overseas because they want to pay the factory workers the legal but lowest cost possible. Sadly these companies are not held responsible for the conditions of the workers because they are far removed from the factory workers.

Big brand companies do send auditors to monitor the working condition of overseas factories but I personally believe it’s to help the individual company look like they are trying and from more research, I’m not totally wrong. According to Dara O’ Rourke (global supply chain expert at the University of California, Berkeley) said little has improved in monitoring factories overseas within the past 20 years. It’s an auditors job to check the safety of the factories and know the reports of employees being harassed.  Due to the pressures of monitoring many factories, auditors are checking off the boxes and ensuring the building is safe but are not fully aware of what is happening to the employees.

Conclusion

As I continue with my second month of this no new clothing challenge, I want to explode on my knowledge on understanding how factory workers are being treated, the harm fast fashion has on the environment, and also do some refashion projects to freshen up my wardrobe. Also, I will be sending some old clothing pieces to ThredUp and be looking into Postmark. Will I try to find some new second-hand goodies from a thrift store? Maybe… for now I will be wearing what I have, give away what I don’t want, and refashion what I want to keep. Here’s to a new month!

References:

Overdress: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline

Fashion For Good: What Is Good? https://fashionforgood.com/who-we-are/what-is-good/

Workers Rights Consortium https://www.workersrights.org/

Fast and Flawed Inspections of Factories Abroad by By Stephanie Clifford and Steven Greenhouse.