Steps Towards Sustainability
In October I attended an event organized by Ladies, Wine & Design Philly. Hosted at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, "Contemporary Design Conversations" featured two panels with Rational Dress Society, Lia and Meg Crane. Having long been aware of the injustices of the fast fashion industry, it was enlightening to hear two women from Rational Dress Society, along with curator Michelle Fisher, detail in simple terms the human rights violations (see the Rana Plaza Collapse) and environmental waste issues caused by the industry at large. They cited Zara's employ handbook, noting that garments are purposefully made to last only up to ten wears. Many of these garments are often discarded in landfills after their intended use, and may not break down as the nature of synthetic fabrics and dyes is often not biodegradable.
In the past year, I have begun to take a more holistic, spiritual approach to how I feed and take care of my body. Shouldn't I be clothing it in a way that is ethical and aligns with my beliefs, too? I had taken a friend with me to the panel; all of this information was new to her and it shook her in to action. Her instant conviction that a lifestyle change must be implemented in her shopping habits spurred in me a resolve to give up my bad habits as well. I had been slowly moving towards a more sustainable shopping practice, but that night I realized that I had an obligation to do so.
Wardrobe Goals: Slow Fashion + Ethically Made + Responsible $ Habits + Body Acceptance
Since then, I have been utilizing Instagram and style blogs to find content that more so aligns with my belief that slow, ethical fashion is the way to go. It's been refreshing to discover so many types of people communing over this topic. Within this subset of the online community there is a much greater degree of body acceptance and responsible fiscal habits, quite in direct contrast to the average influencer or model. With it is also a quieter, cleaner aesthetic; trends swing towards timeless and practical.
Last March at the Museum at FIT's Fashion and Physique symposium, Dr. Joanne Entwhistle presented her work entitled "New Models of Diversity" in which profiled "instagram mums." The crux of her research centered around the fact that diversity is not happening inside fashion and Instagram has enabled mothers to redefine fashion while subverting the traditional system. In this broad summation of her work, I see parallels to the slow fashion community. They, too, have the ability to redefine fashion and its core values for themselves. By bringing fashion down to a personal level, and highlighting its true function, style and utility are pushed to the forefront. Personal style is central, counter to the fashion industry's trends. Beautiful fabrics and the people who make them are celebrated. Clothing is cherished, not merely used and tossed away.
Now the big question: Where CAN I shop?
For many years, I have relied on thrift and second-hand stores for my clothing. They are a still a go-to and I love the thrill of the hunt! But when I do want to purchase a specific sort of pant or a winter coat, where should I look?
Everlane has been my go to this past year; I really appreciate the quality and beauty of their pieces. But as they might not be everyone's sartorial cup of tea, Leah from Style Wise has compiled an extensive list of ethical and sustainable companies for different price points and tastes. Check it out here.
In the Philadelphia area, these are some of my go-to second hand stores and boutiques
(who to the best of my knowledge stock ethical and/or independent designers):
If you're in Philly and have any shopping suggestions, leave them below! I haven't lived here long and am sure there are many more local businesses I could be supporting.
Taking steps towards sustainability is not an overnight change, but requires a thoughtful building of new buying habits. I think the best thing is not to be legalistic about it, but to shop your conscience with the information and budget you have at hand. As our purchasing power ultimately effects the world at large, knowledge is key. xo