In my most recent fall/winter ten-item wardrobe post, I mentioned that one of my motivations for keeping my closet relatively small is that I’m avoiding fast fashion as much as possible. This year, I want to take that commitment a step further and take the Fairdare, as a New Year’s resolution.
I recently discovered the Fairdare blog, written primarily by Jane, and it’s one of my new favorite places for inspiration for cultivating contentment in a simple, thoughtful life. The Fairdare itself is a commitment to “explore ‘enough’ and find contentment in your closet,” while resolving to abstain from fast fashion, for a chosen period of time. The Fairdare challenges us to:
- Value what we already have.
- Embrace “less.”
- Buy fair, when necessary.
In my spring/summer ten-item wardrobe, I will have items that were purchased in past seasons that were not fair trade. Even as recently as this December, I went to a LuLaRoe party with my mom, who had told me she wanted to buy me something extra for Christmas. I got sucked in to the house party frenzy and chose a kimono-style layering piece, that I knew would be very useful for spring and that could layer over things that I already had. I like the item, I can’t return it, and I’ll be using it in spring, but I had a sense of guilt for buying something (or in this case, asking someone else to buy something for me) of unknown origin (incidentally, earlier in the year a LuLaRoe consultant told me that their clothing was fair trade, but I have not found evidence of this on their website). It wasn’t necessary.
I’ve been wondering if I’m crazy for worrying so much about where the things I buy and wear are made. But I don’t think so. If companies are paying their workers fairly and considering the environment, they’re talking about it. I think it’s safe to assume that if a company does not have any statements on their website about sustainability or treating workers fairly, they likely are not doing everything they can to produce their goods ethically.
Furthermore, it is crucial in this conversation to remember that if you aren’t paying for your clothes, someone else is. As someone with sewing experience, I know how labor intensive it is to make something. In the documentary The True Cost, in one of the factories that produced t-shirts, if workers were paid one penny more per t-shirt, their wages would be doubled. The workers were making one penny per t-shirt. In other words, people are paying for our $5 clearance t-shirts with their lives.
There is another sentence from The True Cost that I can not shake out of my head. Shima Akhter, a garment factory worker and activist in Bangladesh, making less than $3 a day, pleads, “I don’t want anyone wearing anything that is produced by our blood.” In my mind, that kills the “at-least-they-have-jobs” argument.
To further the conversation, there is an engaging interview on the podcast Why Do We Have Things? with writer Marc Bain, who discusses his argument that, “Your next item of clothing should be so expensive it hurts.” (By the way, Why Do We Have Things? is an excellent podcast for people who are interested in starting their own business, featuring many encouraging interviews with people who have done so.)
Of course, there is an eco-friendly, economical alternative to buying higher-than-we’re-used-to priced clothing and that is thrifting. Before spring, I will be doing a ten-item wardrobe update, after using an Elizabeth Suzann (a company that puts a great deal of care into producing clothing ethically and with sustainability in mind) credit I have (which I mentioned in my fall/winter ten-item wardrobe post). After that point, I’m planning to thrift for everything I need for spring and summer. For fall and winter 2017, I will evaluate whether I will buy any new ethically-made items or solely thrift based on my budget. That’s my plan for doing fair this year.
Thank you to Jane of Fairdare for the nudge, through your blog, to make a defined commitment to “value people more than clothes.” Also, I think this crowd would love her and her daughters’ and husband’s posts on their simple wardrobes. Also, Fairdare provides an extensive list of ethical brands, if you’re looking for a place to start, when shopping new.
What about you? Do you already thrift for most of your clothes or are you used to buying new? Have you taken any steps toward a more thoughtful wardrobe? I would love to hear in the comments below!