One week after Fashion Revolution week and I am still feeling motivated and inspired by the important dialogue that was created last week by fashion activists. It was so refreshing to witness as I have been struggling with how I can amplify the voices of organizations Fashion Revolution. I have noticed recently that I am not alone in the distaste for what the ethical fashion community has become. It proves to be exclusive and I hate that I could contribute to that in any way. I am working to make sure my voice is amplifying the voices that bring different perspectives to the movement instead of being another face holding a mason jar. I also detest that this movement was built on being a conscious consumer and yet it has spun into a consumption frenzy movement. New eco companies are flooding in, bloggers are working with them and constantly feeding us new products we need to buy in order to be “sustainable”. While I have done my fair share of product reviews I think there is a difference between an honest evaluation of a company in order to educate us eco newbies versus only being a platform that feeds impressionable followers the “buy this” mentality. I think it’s a very fine line between the two and I have not figured out how to discern between the bloggers that are providing me with helpful posts about brands that when the time is right I will purchase from, versus the bloggers that make me feel guilty that I am not buying the right, cool eco-clothes.
I think more than anything this movement needs to be one that focuses on shifting mindset and creating solutions. Through the efforts of amazing, bloggers, activists, books and documentaries I have come to realize I just don’t really want to buy anything anymore. However, sometimes I just need to buy underwear to replace old pairs or a white t-shirt to replace one with a massive ketchup stain on it. But, I try to find inexpensive ethical companies but I just truly am not in a position to buy a $30 white t-shirt or $20 pair of underwear. So I feel guilty and avoid buying altogether and just work with less instead of replacing with an unethical company.
To be clear, I fully support the fact that we should not find it acceptable to buy any article of clothing at $10 or less because that means it cost the workers and the enviornment instead of us. I am totally onboard for buying less, and when buying investing in ethical garments. I have mastered the buy less part but I just haven’t been able to buy from the amazing companies that are doing a lot of good. I am feeling guilty and frustrated at the process. I do a plethora of research on companies in fear that they are greenwashing, and still, no company has hit a level where they can provide solutions for all problems. But I am sick of being a consumer that is constantly having to accommodate for the problems fast fashion companies create. I shouldn’t have to spend hours looking into what kinds of cotton they use and exactly where the factory is located and what the rights of the workers are. Instead of holding them accountable I am accepting the problem.
Similar lines can be drawn to any movement. We would not have gone anywhere with the feminist, civil rights, or gay rights movement had we decided to change our ways and not address systemic issues. Think about it. How much would I as a woman accomplish if I made excuses for patriarchial systems and just found a small little hole in the system that I fit myself nicely into by being independent, independently? By finding ways to maneuver the system ethically, we are not addressing the systemic problem. We should spend less time focusing on how consumers should be responsible to trace where your shirt is coming from and more time finding ways to create laws and policies to hold the fast fashion companies accountable to ensure they are using factories that are ethical.
Unfortunately, I am not going to be the one to create the policies. Instead, I am educating myself on fashion organizations that are not compromising and holding the problematic companies accountable. Until we find a solution, as consumers we still need to work on changing our ways. We need to learn to spend less and invest in clothing that is made ethically. That way when we create compromises and laws, companies will see this is what consumers want not just lawmakers. But until then, try your best and put your efforts into looking for solutions to this complicated industry and join forces of organizations such as the Fashion Revolution. A week after the Fashion Revolution week has come to a close, I am more aware than ever that more dialogue in this space needs to be created, especially in the US. More on this to come…