Hey friends, in case you missed it, last week was Fashion Revolution Week--a week of campaigning dedicated to demanding and implementing sustainable and ethical best practices for manufacturers and consumers alike. The campaign is five years old, and last year's FashRev Week was the biggest to date with over 500 million impressions and 113 thousand posts asking manufacturers #whomademyclothes?
The week might be over, but let's keep the momentum going! There are still ways you can stay involved and incorporate best practices as a fashion consumer. Here's a recap of my tips I shared on IG as well as some resources to get your started!
Shopping secondhand prolongs the life of a garment, promotes appreciation for well-made clothes, and prevents fewer things from going straight to a landfill! I cannot tell you how many of my most frequently-worn, compliment-worthy pieces have been found just by walking into a Crossroads or Buffalo Exchange! Okay yes, it requires a bit of digging, but if you’re willing, the finds are worth it (and so are the stories that come with them)! These loafers are Intentionally Blank but were found at Crossroads Trading Company’s location in Santa Barbara. They’re incredibly versatile and comfortable, so I’ve been wearing them nearly every day! Who cares if it’s from last season—if it makes you feel fabulous, rock it!
Don't Boycott Fast Fashion--Be an Advocate Instead
Fashion Revolution Week started in protest to the Rana Plaza building collapsing in 2013. Over 1,100 garment workers making clothes for large retailers such as Walmart, Primark, and Mango were killed, most of whom were women whose families depend on their income. The fashion industry employs between 60-75 million workers in South and Southeast Asia, most of whom are paid an unfair minimum wage if at all.
Most of us know that sinking feeling: that boycotts may have good intention but simply don’t work. Instead of opting out of fast fashion (which if that’s your thing, great!, but for the rest of us plebians), use your power as a consumer to hold your favorite brands responsible. Demand transparency of their supply chains and garment worker’s wages. Learn more at fashionrevolution.org and sign their fashion manifesto!
For now, here’s your action item: tag a brand and demand transparency using the hashtag #whomademyclothes. Today I’ve picked Zara, since out of the largest fashion brands they are the least transparent about disclosing manufacturing information.
Take Care of Your Clothes!
Confession: I am AWFUL at taking care of my clothes. I don’t polish my shoes, I forget to iron my shirts, and I let ripped seams hang out for way longer than is acceptable. The problem is that I have waaaaaaaaaay too many white clothes and I'm constantly having to work out stains from spilling coffee all over my clumsy self. So let’s do this together. Let’s learn some basic sewing skills. Mend that button, fix that hem, steam that dress! If you’re in a position to, make use of a good tailor—you’re much less likely to throw something out if it fits like a dream. Treat your stains as soon as they appear (super guilty of breaking this one), and yes, for the love of Michelle Obama follow the garment care directions on that tag!
Here are some excellent resources to get your started:
Be a Feminist
Eighty percent of garment workers are women, most of whom aren’t paid a living wage. Also, women make up 70% of global poverty. That’s a lot of women living below the poverty line—women who deserve to be able to put food on their table, work in safe warehouse conditions, and have reasonable work hours. Fashion is a 1.2 trillion dollar industry, with consumers spending $250 billion in the US alone. That’s a lot of wealthy female consumers—think of what we could do if we all demanded to know more about the women making our clothes? Caring about the state of fashion is an act of intersectional feminism in of itself. In our obsessions with modern feminist icons or H&M's next designer collab, let’s not forget about the millions of women who are still struggling for basic human rights.
Action item: Fashion Revolution has a quick template email that you can send to your favorite fast fashion brands straight from their website!
Additionally, the Clean Clothes campaign is another excellent org dedicated to advocating for a garment worker’s living wage. You can review their statistics and get involved on their website: cleanclothes.org/action.
Evaluate Your Choices
There’s an old Scottish tale that tells the store of the king’s tailor. The king decides to reward his finest tailor with a bolt of the most beautiful tartan in Scotland. His only request is that the tailor make the best garment for himself. The tailor does so and makes a beautiful jacket. He wears it so much that soon there’s holes in the elbows. So one day he looks at the garment and says, “I can make something of this.” So the tailor makes a waistcoat and wears it so much that it’s soon worn out. The process repeats itself until the tailor has gone through a waistcoat, a tie, a beret, a bowtie, and a button—each time repurposing the fabric.
Now I know that we’re all hardly experts in DIY, but the principle remains the same. How can we best use what we already have?
Do you really need another top? Can you remix your wardrobe instead? How about borrowing that dress from your friend for that night out instead of buying a new one? I’ll give you an example: I almost threw out my favorite blazer in the whole world because it has a hole in the elbow. The blazer itself was a repurposed Italian men’s blazer with handpainted gold fleurs de lis on the panels—I was crushed when I discovered the hole. I realized later that if the blazer had been repurposed once, it could be repurposed again! Luckily I had only shoved it to the back of my closet. I’ve collected a smattering of embroidered patches and flashy ribbon. I plan to bedazzle the holes and worn out places so I can take it out on the town once again!
Shop Small, Shop Local
Small businesses NEED YOU as a consumer—so why not diversify your purchases contribute to your local economy instead? One of my favorite ways to curb my fast fashion appetite is to go window shopping at Zara or H&M, figure out what trendy things I really love, and then challenging myself to find a thrifted, local, or ethical version to love instead! Sometimes that means dropping into your favorite boutique instead of buying online, and sometimes that means paying a visit to the vintage shop up the street to find the OG version of what you want instead!
This leads me to my post for this week: Abaca bags! Like I mentioned earlier, Abaca bags are a time-honored Filipino tradition, and are almost always made by hand by local weavers! Read more about how I’m buying local in Manila on my previous post, Abaca Bags, Sustainability, and Shopping Local!