Fashion Revolution Day – It’s Time For Transparency

One year ago, 1138 people died to satisfy the world’s desire for cheap, constantly new clothing.

The Rana Plaza factory collapse was a moment where we were reminded that our clothing has an origin. It actually comes from somewhere, and someone has put it together. Can you imagine the people that have touched what you’re wearing right now?

Supply-chain-2One part of the tragedy that really stood out to me was how eager many brands were to shift the blame when they were linked to the factory. Complex supply chains, subcontracting and outsourcing work (where a factory passes on work to another, often unaudited, factory) were mentioned more than a few times.

We didn’t know. We can’t take responsibility.

This isn’t good enough.

There are laws around buying stolen goods – even if you are not the person doing the stealing, buying something you know has been stolen is illegal. Buying something that “fell off the back of a truck” as we would say in New Zealand, is not okay.

Perhaps this is a simplistic comparison, but the huge orders and incredibly short production times that many brands demand mean outsourcing and subcontracting are often the only way to go. The brands involved know this. And yet as long as their orders keep being met on time, they seem quite content to turn a blind eye.

Today I wanted to look at a few brands that are doing things differently.

Brands that are considering the entire story of their products. That are saying, this is what we do, this is what we are responsible for and we are proud of it. All of it. Continue reading

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Breaking The Design Mold – The Potential Of Zero Waste

scissors

Photograph by Rena Tom. Used under a CC Attribution-ShareAlike license.

If you’ve ever made a piece of clothing, you’ll know that after cutting out the pattern pieces, you’re left with a (not always so) little pile of scraps. Small, oddly shaped shards of fabric that flutter to the floor and are sometimes so beautiful it pains me to throw them away (If you see me on Hoarders, this may be why).

Even in an industrial context, where lay plans are carefully calculated to minimize waste (funny how good people get at that when it saves them money), this amounts to about 15 – 20% of the total fabric.

This is a significant chunk of fabric that never makes it past the cutting room, especially if you think about all the water, chemicals and dyes that have gone into getting it to look that way.

Enter Zero Waste.

Zero Waste is a way of making clothing that uses all of the fabric – no scraps, no offcuts, no waste. The patterns look a little different to the patterns many of us are used to: Continue reading

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In Praise Of Clothing That Changes With You

sequins 1

Changes in our personal style often happen because of changes in our life. Maybe it’s switching jobs, moving house, graduating, having children, developing a stronger sense of confidence – whatever it is, suddenly we feel like the way we dress doesn’t quite fit who we are anymore, and a style change is in order.

Often this means getting rid of a lot of stuff – this isn’t me anymore, it needs to go.

But does it have to be that way?

Can clothing be something else than a static skin that is shed as soon as it doesn’t work with who we are anymore?

What if some pieces of clothing could evolve with you? Continue reading

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Connecting With Our Clothes – The Warm Hug Of Organic Cotton

The Connecting With Our Clothes series explores the meaningful relationships we have with our clothing – the memories, the stories, the interesting ways of getting it that mean so much more than scooping it off the sale rack ever could. (Check out the beginning and a story of my own here)

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I’m very happy to be welcoming Hannah from Dimples Diaries to share a story for the Connecting With Our Clothes series. Hannah is a fashion student with a passion for clothing that looks good and does even better (like meeeee!).

I love the beautiful environmentally friendly and ethical outfits Hannah mixes with other tips on creating a greener lifestyle (think delicious smoothies and better beauty products). If you’re looking to get your outfit post fix without seeing swathes of fast fashion pieces, I highly recommend checking out Dimples Diaries.

(And seriously, have you seen her dimples? So cute!) Continue reading

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Following Up On Promoting Better Products vs. Promoting Consumption

many chances for changeA few posts ago I asked you a question that’s been rolling around in my mind for some time now. How do you feel about product recommendations within an eco/ethical fashion context – are they great ways of promoting better products, or do they in fact just promote more consumption?

Your comments were thought-provoking, insightful and generally awesome (if you haven’t had a read through them yet, I’d highly recommend doing so) and after taking a few days to think about how all of this fits with This Kind Choice, here’s what I’ve come up with: Continue reading

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5 Simple And Cheap Ways To Greener Clothing (No Matter Where You Shop)

Thank you for all your comments on my last post on “Promoting Better Products or Just Promoting Consumption?” ! It was great to hear your thoughts on such a multi-faceted issue.

I’m doing some reading and some thinking and some excessive coffee drinking (An accurate summary of my life, actually. Wouldn’t change it for a thing) and I will be back with a more in-depth answer to what I’ve learned from your comments, and how I see that playing out on This Kind Choice from now on.

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Photograph by Stevie Spiers. Used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.

In the meantime, let’s look at a super simple way of reducing the effect our clothing has on the environment that everyone can do. Even if you shop at Primark. Yes, really.

Often the focus in seems to be squarely on the before part of our clothings story (Where was it made? What is it made of?) or the after part (What happens to the piece of clothing once we’re through with it?).

These are crucial things to look at, but the during phase is just as important. Why? Continue reading

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How Much Are You Wearing + Promoting Better Products Or Just Promoting Consumption?

Apparently, the average woman’s outfit costs $1321.28. According to this infographic by Digital Surgeons, that is the amount of money many of us walk around in every day (I’m thinking 1321 one dollar bills would make for a fascinating dress, but that may be the fact that I’m entering the World Of Wearable Art spilling into other areas of my life).

One of the big barriers to making more ethical fashion choices that we often hear about is cost. It’s too expensive. As someone who has a grand total of $50 on her bank account right now, I feel ya. I do. And yet if this is the average amount we spend on a single outfit, it seems we have more to work with than we might think. That’s quite a lot of potential to vote for a better world. I wanted to experiment with what this might mean in an eco/ethical outfit.

Obviously not everyone spends that much (I for one don’t), and I don’t mean to say that it’s necessary to do so to buy ethically. But it is interesting to think about how much you’re wearing (right now, maybe?) and what positive change you could be part of with that.

Ethical outfit Continue reading

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Connecting With Our Clothes – Enjoying The Process Behind The Perfect Pants

The Connecting With Our Clothes series explores the meaningful relationships we have with our clothing – the memories, the stories, the interesting ways of getting it that mean so much more than scooping it off the sale rack ever could. (Check out the beginning and a story of my own here)

Maria-sidebar-2I’m pretty thrilled to have Maria from Lost In A Spotless Mind sharing the story behind one of her pieces of clothing today. Maria teaches Photoshop, textile knowledge, personal style, photography and portfolio development at a fashion school in Norway, all of which makes for an inspiring and thought-provoking blog.

I love her focus on personal style over trends and the wonderful balance she manages to strike between pretty and pensive. I always have the most fun with fashion when I’m adoring the aesthetics, but also going beyond that.

“This looks so amazing! Now, why do I like this / why is made this way / why did I choose to buy this over that?” That’s what I want, and it’s certainly something I’ve found in Maria’s work.break Continue reading

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Reading Material – Guest Posts + Links I’m Loving

Today I wanted to share a few guest posts I’ve done recently, and chuck a few other interesting links in there, too.

reading

Photograph by Raphael Labbe. Used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.

It’s hand-ins week at uni, and somehow writing an essay about identity, consumption, the fashion system of Eastern Germany and Primark (it’s a wild mix, I tell you) has left my mind rather blank for other writing. In some ways it’s just like writing a really long blog post, except I use the words ‘thus’ and ‘exemplifies’ slightly more, and have to cut back on the sarcasm. On the plus side, I get to to unleash my inner nerd and opinions on post-modern identity without worrying about whether anyone else is actually interested. Because I’m paying them a hefty amount of money each year to at least pretend to be interested :P

Here are a few guest posts I’ve been lucky enough to do lately: Continue reading

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Buying Out Of Bitterness – And How To Avoid It

Photograph by Jasper Colt. Used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.

Photograph by Jasper Colt. Used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.

I have this thing. Where I buy clothes whenever something goes wrong.

Black skinny jeans at the end of one relationship, a pink mini skirt when another slipped through my fingers. I would show them what they were missing. A tiny printed bikini when I felt the worst about my body (now isn’t that ironic?). If I wasn’t going to get approval from myself, I would get it from others. A pair of pale pink trousers with black piping down the leg when work overwhelmed me. If I couldn’t be good at what I did, at least I would look the part.

Apparently, I’m not alone. While doing some reading for a university paper, I came across a study that basically said that if we feel like our identity is threatened, we’re likely to go out and buy things that reconfirm that identity. Continue reading

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