It is really difficult to not having second thoughts about my love for fashion when I see how all of our consumption is affecting the environment and the poorest people on Earth. The Fashion Revolution Week and Earth Day on April 22, brought the perfect opportunity to ask myself who made the clothes that I am wearing, to think about how much did I pay for them and how long are they going to last in my closet, because, let’s face it, me, you and almost every one, play a big part in this ugly cycle of waisting and human exploitation.
There are two sides of me that keep clashing. Since I was very young I was interested in all the issues related to social justice. This is why I did law school, because my goals in life have always been related to help people in need. I have been working with refugees for a long time, and now that I am a mum, I just cannot stop thinking about all the children that are suffering in this world. Among them there are thousands and thousands of kids who make our clothes without any payment, missing out on family, friends and education. In the meantime, our circle of fast consumption and waist is killing our planet. Greenpeace says that it takes about 10,000 litres of water to grow enough cotton for one pair of jeans and that is only the beginning of the production process!
But on the other hand my love for fashion is still there. My fascination with it doesn’t just stop in trends, style, design or fabrics. Fashion is about expressing myself, putting a little more colour and fun to my daily routine and constantly renewing and refreshing my attitude towards life. Fashion is history, is empowerment and is independence. Putting away my love for social justice or my love for fashion would be like leaving half of my self behind.
It is easy to be pessimistic about our consuming behaviour and think that the environmental and poverty problems would have to be solved by somebody else as we cannot really control what is happening out there. But we can and we should cooperate by changing our habits. In my case, I had to find a better option to a more kind and sustainable way of dressing up without sacrificing my love for style.
I want to know who is making my clothes
There are two words: Fast Fashion! We buy a lot more clothes than we used to and we spend a lot less. $10 t-shirts, $30 dresses, do they say something to you? They say to me that I’ve been comfortable with not spending much but I haven’t given enough thought to the people making my clothes. If I paid that amount of money for the final product, then what did the women and children in third world countries get being at the beginning of the whole making process? And what happens to that cheap clothing within 6 months of use? They get destroyed by the washing machine, or another trend replace our lovely item and here we go again…
I want them to pay what is faire
After the collapse of a building in Bangladesh in 2013 that killed more than a thousand workers, several NGO’s like Greenpeace or Fashion Revolution have created a movement that allows us to see reports on internet about the companies we are buying from. I won’t hesitate to check them out and see if they are fairly paying their workers in the third world countries.
I want to buy classic
I want to buy timeless pieces that are more expensive but last longer and this is especially true when buying basics. At the end it is rewarding to know I am doing what is correct even if I am spending more and the style benefits are clear: They look better, they dress me better!
I want to buy from local designers
To have a killing outfit doesn’t depend that much on the brand, but what matters the most is the originality and transparency. If I want innovation, they are the ones who can really give me the special item I need. Besides, buying from local designers is the only way to know the true story behind the loved clothes, because designers and shop owners are accesible, they are there to tell me everything I need about their products.
I want to use the things I already have
I don’t have much time to organise my closet, but whenever I do it is like getting into a trunk of memories. Most of the time, I rediscover beautiful clothes and accessories that I didn’t even remember I had, and find new ways of using old stuff. I love to bump into things that I bought long time ago in little markets while I was traveling, or things that I inherited from my mum, my sister and friends. I love to find the pieces that I never dared to use because they were beautiful but didn’t match my style and rediscover that now is the time to do so.
I want to buy second hand
I hated to buy pre loved stuff until the day I got into a little second hand shop. I was amazed on the vintage treasures I found and became and immediate fan.
I want to protect the planet
I. am. not. going. to. throw. my. good. clothes. away! I will use them, find them a new purpose, mix them with a piece I really like or save them for later. If this is not an option then I will donate! With this little things I will start making environmentally conscious decisions. I hear all the time that there is nothing we can do as individuals to protect the planet, but I think it is just a matter of changing behaviours, little by little, we will get there.
The important thing about fashion is not fashion itself, it is playing with your style, finding what you like and honouring our duty to protect the people and the planet!