Happy Earth Day everybody! This week is Handmade Fashion Revolution Week hosted by Celina at Petit a Petit and Family. It’s the hand-makers response to the Fashion Revolution Organization, which was started to commemorate the terrible garment factory collapse in Bangladesh three years ago this week.
Bangladesh has one of the lowest wages in the world for its garment makers and over a thousand of these workers died, nearly all women, in one day. Around 2,500 workers were injured. Just to repeat, in one day, doing work for some of the lowest wages in the entire world, 1,134 people died. Thousands of families changed forever. Bangladesh makes a lot of our t-shirts and if you have ever had a t-shirt flung at you through a t-shirt gun at a sporting event, you already know just how much care we take of their work. If you have seen any images from this tragedy, you know that it’s impossible to forget them. The ecological damage and human danger of fast fashion is something that is often on my mind. It’s a world so removed and so unseen that we are hardly to blame for forgetting it even exists.
It has been nearly sixteen months since I started my Nothing New Project . Sixteen months of buying used, making handmade or swapping clothes with friends. Sixteen months of a wardrobe I hang in my closet with awareness and attention. It has completely transformed how I think not only about what I wear but what it means to reject fast-fashion. And, I do. I reject it wholesale.
To be honest, the Nothing New Project process itself has been easy. There is an abundance of discarded clothing out there. An abundance of barely worn, easily tossed aside clothing and I love to sew my own clothes. It’s been a wonderful and fun challenge for me. But on a deeper level, it’s impossible to start down the road away from mainstream fashion and not be changed. When I reject the current trend I end up asking myself a lot of obvious but un-asked questions such as what do I want from my clothing? what do I feel comfortable in? what looks good on me and my body just the way it is right now? what I feel good / sexy / happy in? what do my clothes say about me? Those questions were, for the most part, answered for me when I consumed clothing at the mall. I didn’t have to dig deep and unearth anything uncomfortable. Shopping happened to pass the time and make me feel better.
Oddly enough, when I interact with new clothing now (such as for the kids), I have this strange feeling like it is lonely. It strikes me that new clothes don’t have any stories or past lives. They seem soul-less to me in contrast to knowing the story of my handmade shirt from the trip to buy fabric to cutting pattern pieces to gathering seams to hems. I love that soul and that story. I love how much MORE-ness is embedded in what I wear on my back.
There is so much we can do to reject a system of cheap, poorly made clothes in dangerous conditions. Just little things that collectively make a big difference. Join me in a few! Bring the soul back!
+ Buy Less: This is a no-brainer but still needs to be said. Buy fewer things. Save that cash for something that might cost more but can be worn more often and for a longer period of time. Check out this shopping directory of ethically-minded retailers.
+ Thrift Stores: A massive Goodwill store may not be your jam but try finding a fancy consignment store that only accepts clothing in good condition. You can still make it a fun shopping experience.
+Thred Up: Shop online for clothing! This website offers cash money for your brand-name clothes and a great selection of clothes to choose from. If you use this link, I also get credit there and that would be great because I buy most of my workout wear from them.
+ Fashion Revolution Organization: Join the Fashion Revolution and ask who made your clothes! The worst thing that could happen to places like Bangladesh is if the garment industry left. They desperately need garment factory jobs but we have to push for those jobs to improve. Make sure your favorite brands know you are paying attention.
+ Wear Handmade with Pride: Make it and flaunt it. It’s easy to get embarrassed about wearing handmade garments. To feel uncertain in them. After all, you know all the flaws and mistakes. But, nobody else does. Wear it!
P.S. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway from yesterday so you can jumpstart your handmade wardrobe with Sanae’s beautiful book AND some luscious fabric!