I have a confession. Two weeks before Fashion Revolution Week… I bought a new pair of shoes.
For some this may not seem like a big deal. But for someone like me who strives to add to my wardrobe ethically and responsibly, this is a deal of sorts. I don’t do that anymore, I think to myself. Let’s back up and give a lil’ context…
Fashion Revolution Week is a social media campaign that centers around demanding transparency in fashion supply chains around the globe. After the tragic collapse of the Rana Plaza garment factory on April 24, 2013 that killed 1,138 people and injured many more, much of the world’s eyes were open to the horrific working conditions of the factories that make our clothes. My eyes were one of the pairs that were opened that year and I haven’t been able to unsee. Not only does this movement demand transparency, but it demands that we do better in manufacturing and consuming.
Since gaining this awareness, I made a pact with myself about how I added to my wardrobe. Items that I added to my wardrobe had to be: made ethically to the best of my knowledge, handmade by me, or secondhand. And I’ve stuck to that pact…mostly.
This pact comes with difficulty. I’m not sure about my other conscious consumers, but things that I find hard to shop for are undergarments and shoes. “Ethical” undies are usually super basic and boring and expensive. And I find that shoes can be extremely pricey too. What’s a sister to do? I want to support ethical brands, but I have trouble wrapping my brain and budget around spending $30 on a single, nude pair of organic panties that are nooot. cuttte.
And that’s when it hits me— I still walk this line between selflessness and utter selfishness. This conversation comes down to being about… me. My look, my style, what I want. Don’t get me wrong— I think our clothing can be an amazing avenue to display our personalities and individuality and I love that about fashion. But how much am I willing to sacrifice for that? It’s not just about sacrificing money, it’s about what my money means. When I use my money to buy fast fashion items, what I’m ultimately doing is creating demand for a way of manufacturing that comes, in some cases, at the cost of human life. I’m saying exploiting other humans for my own wants and cheaper fashions are okay. And it’s not.
So back to these shoes. I love them. I wear them. I want to wear them for years to come. And yet, I didn’t do my homework. In the end I cared more about myself and my style than about the possible conditions of the person who made them. I took a peek at Good On You, an organization that rates brands on their transparency and ethics, and found that this brand scored a “Not Good Enough”. Ooof.
So where do we go from here? We learn. I learn. Let’s do more research and do better next time. Let’s weigh what the true cost of a garment may be before I purchase it. One of the first in-depth talks I heard on this topic was from Josh Porter out in Portland. He shared that when it comes to responsibly consuming, it comes down to caring more deeply about the people that make our stuff than our stuff (paraphrased).
That has stuck with me ever since I heard it the first time. And for those that know me well, you know that people are at the center of my heart. I yearn to spend my days caring more deeply about others. And the folks that make our clothes and shoes count as others in my life.
I am grateful for this awareness, but some days I feel that I am tortured by it. Why can’t I just buy a cute pair of shoes and be done with it?? Sigh… So I want to hear from you, my fellow conscious consumers. Is there anyone else out there that feels tortured or has a moment of guilty shopping? What do you do about it?
And if you have any sources on where I can get ethically made, cute panties and bras— please do share.
Thanks for listening, my loves.