Are you tired of buying clothes filled with labels from various countries that rarely include your own? Have you watched documentaries or read books on the topic of fast fashion and how it's destroying our economic well-being and environment?
A few years ago I decided to stick with a "capsule wardrobe". I have two basic wardrobes per year. In the winter it's mostly jeans, sweaters and long sleeve tops. In the summer I switch to jeans, short sleeve tops and dresses. For each half of the year I have no more than 20 pieces (and not always that many). I wear the same jeans in winter and summer.
So naturally, since I have a limited wardrobe, I want my garments to last. At the end of summer, I want to pack away my dresses so I can then pull them out the next summer and have them look just as beautiful. The "fast-fashion" industry, which is nearly every chain brick and mortar retail store these days, focuses on getting items made cheap and fast, so they can sell them fast and restock with new inventory on a very frequent basis. It is not uncommon for stores to receive new stock weekly or every few days.
Instead of having seasonal collections, stores focus on trends and we all know trends come and go quickly, so they have to keep up. This builds pressure on the brands, who then feel the need to source their products from off-shore factories to have them made for the cheapest price possible, which comes with a huge cost. The cost of humane working conditions for people in those factories, our environment, and our own country's economics.
Well, I live by the mantra that when you know better, you do better. So, I'm here to share some of my favorite brands, resources, books and documentaries with you so you can make better decisions as to where you spend your dollars. Besides, who wants clothes that disintegrate in the wash after 1-2 wears?
Here we go:
As shown above, Christy Dawn makes stunning dresses and other items in Los Angeles from deadstock, leftover fabric, so all of their items are limited edition. You can read more about their deadstock practices here. What I love about this brand is that they have a few styles of dresses that they remake repeatedly with different fabrics so for example, the "Dawn Dress" shown above is their signature style dress and they remake it with various fabrics they're able to source. Frequently, they only have enough of a particular fabric to make 1-5 dresses.
I've not purchased one of their dresses yet but it's definitely on my bucket list for this summer! I could live in one of these!
Everlane is another great brand that I enjoy for staples and basics, which can be very hard to find in ethical brands. If you've ever searched through a lot of ethical "indie" brands, if you will, they seem to have eccentric style or are just plain hideous (sorry...).
Now, Everlane isn't solely made in the US but they pride themselves on "radical transparency" so you can tour the factories their products are made in, see their cost of the products at the bottom of each listing and they even have a really cool "choose what you pay" section.
Plum and Pigeon
Plum and Pigeon is one of my favorite shops on Etsy. The shop owner, Rose, sews all of the dresses herself at her home in England. I've purchased two dresses from her so far and I'm sure they won't be the last. She makes them with high quality fabrics and they withstand everyday wear and tear, washing and even spontaneous games of frisbee in the park (ask me how I know). I love that they're able to be dressed up or down and are classic staples in any summer closet.
Yeah, so I obviously can't make this list without mentioning Etsy in general. Etsy is filled with "makers". It's also filled with vintage clothes and household items for every taste, budget or lifestyle. Most likely, if you decide to search for something handmade, plug it into Etsy and someone out there will be handcrafting that very item.
One reason why I love being a part of the Etsy community is that it supports the independent makers, creatives and small businesses that should really be thriving more than the big box stores. In my opinion, an ideal world would focus on shopping small and buying directly from the visionaries who make items from scratch with their hearts behind it. Etsy is a great way to do that.
The Good Trade
The Good Trade is a website that focuses on conscious living and consumption via fashion, beauty, travel, living and culture.
Here is their business statement:
Founded in Los Angeles in November 2014, The Good Trade covers conscious fashion, beauty, food, wellness, travel and lifestyle. Our readers are enthusiastic, conscious women and men who care deeply about the brands they support. The Good Trade was built on the fundamental idea that consumers are capable of driving significant social change through their everyday purchases, consumer preferences and lifestyle choices.
One of my favorite resources from their site, which I think is one of their most popular posts is the one on 35 Fair Trade & Ethical Clothing Brands.
The website is filled with inspiring content and is a true gem of the world wide web.
Over-Dressed - The shockingly high cost of cheap fashion by Elizabeth L. Cline
I think this book is responsible for really getting me started on thinking about what I purchase, where it comes from, and how it impacts me, the environment and those who make them. It focuses on the fashion industry but it really got me thinking about the high cost of EVERYTHING we consume.
If you don't know where to start with educating yourself, you really can't go wrong with Over-dressed as an introduction. It's a quick read and once you're at it, I think you'll be hooked!
One of the facts from this book that really shocked me was that most of the clothes we donate to places like Goodwill and other thrift shop donation drop-offs, don't actually get re-sold. They get shipped off to be turned into scrap cloths or straight sent to landfills. *shudder*
So when you think you're buying these trendy fast fashion pieces and you're doing good by donating them after 1-2 wears, you're really just creating a TON of waste.
The True Cost - Documentary
The True Cost highlights the problems with the fast fashion industry, similar to the book mentioned above. You can watch the trailer here. It is on Netflix if you subscribe.
This documentary is eye-opening and shows the horrible conditions of the factories that make your clothes. You can see the living conditions of people who make your garments for pennies just so you can keep up with the trends. It's truly heart-breaking.
I hope some of these resources have you inspired to be more conscious with your dollar and your spending power. We choose what and who we support with every penny that leaves our hands.
Make it good. :)
PS- If you have any favorite brands or resources I'd love it if you'd comment and share them!
Photo sources: Christy Dawn, Plum and Pigeon, & Amazon.