Today is Fashion Revolution Day. The movement urges individuals to shop in an ethical and socially responsible way, and to truly know where our clothes are coming from. I am a big fan of the movement, and not just for the day, but as a lifestyle.
My friend Kristin started an apparel company called Seamly.co, where she manufactures beautiful, timeless, and versatile clothing in the USA. She is intimately involved with sourcing the fabrics (which are often surplus from places like J.Crew, who will throw out the fabric because of the slightest imperfections*) and the sewing of each garment in Denver, CO. I have been a big fan of Seamly.co since the beginning (you may be familiar with my versalette challenges!).
*Can you imagine what society would be like if we dismissed everyone who was imperfect? Why should we treat our clothing this way? Isn’t imperfection what makes the world beautiful. Just a thought.
Through one of the versalette challenges (seamly.co sells an item called the versalette which you can wear in dozens of ways, and Kristin has challenges to wear it 7 days straight!), I was introduced to Kestrel of Awear, and immediately took her pledge to be more cognizant of the clothing I purchase. Since February 2014, I have only purchased clothing items that are either thrifted, made in the USA, or socially responsible in their practices (she has some other options like vegan items, organic, etc.). It has been a wonderful and rewarding (and sometimes challenging) experience.
Here are a few things I’ve learned:
- Being mindful is important in all facets of life. Before I started following Seamly.co, I really never thought about where my clothes came from. Since then, I have realized how often we aren’t mindful at all, whether that’s with shopping, what we eat, who we spend our time with, or how our jobs make us feel. It is so important to decide what matters to you and pay attention deeply. To doing things with intent.
- I really don’t need much. I have so many clothes already from before the pledge that I really don’t need anything new. So I only purchase things I really love, and things I feel good about purchasing. I used to shop just to kill time, shopping at places like Forever 21 and buying ridiculously quantities of cheap clothing.. Seamly.co’s items are more than I used to spend at Forever 21, but I feel great purchasing them, they are much higher quality, and I need less of them to be happy. Now I shop when I really want something new and can find something that meets my requirements.
- Just because I care about conscious consumerism doesn’t mean everyone else does. This topic is something I am really passionate about, but I can’t expect everyone to feel as passionate about it as me. I am sure many friends have passions that I don’t share! So I often share with people how I shop and answer their questions, but I choose not to proselytize them to join the cause. Issues like this are only powerful when they mean something to you.
So, as I write this in the flagship TOMS Shoes store in Venice, CA (which is plastered with signs saying things like “GIVE” and “we exist to make a difference”), I see myself continuing with the pledge in perpetuity, and I hope to expand it to other facets of my life. I often feel a bit like a fraud when I only buy ethical clothing but don’t pay as much attention to other things I buy. But you have to start somewhere, and this has been a rewarding and meaningful place to start.
Speaking of starting somewhere, how do you consume consciously? What do you pledge to pay more attention to this year?