Fashion · Sustainable Fashion

Getting Out of the Good Room

Am I the only person who purchases a coveted item and then leaves it hanging in the closet because it’s “too good” and needs saving for “a special occasion”? My closet is like the Good Room from your grandparents home with the leather seats you weren’t allowed to sit on, the unblemished carpet and the glass cabinet that held all the Royal Doulton rose patterned china.

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The flaw in my plan being…I don’t have that many special events in my life. I’m looking after my kids, doing a bit of travel on the weekends and going to the local shops when the milk runs out. Not that many occasions on my horizon that call for floor length dresses or the good china.

So I’m trying to get out of the good room. Trying not to feel afraid of wearing the new sustainable purchase because it cost a lot and is too beautiful for every day wear. Trying to reframe my whole thought process (psychology training rearing it’s ugly head here) into the idea that an expensive item worn many times becomes a truly ethical purchase.

Worn often, worn with love, worn well. 

So I took my brand new Cocoon Dress on a weekend away to test this theory of not being too precious with my purchases.

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It terrified me. The dress is a natural white, let me repeat that…WHITE and I was on a road trip. With children. Several of them. Of the male variety. But I vowed to press on and use it or lose it. And it worked. I wore it as a dress with sneakers out sightseeing all day. Then I popped some jeans underneath to wear it as a shirt dress for a fancy dinner in the evening. The next morning I wore it as a coverall over bathers for a morning at the beach. I’ve since had a revelation that if you open the buttons, you could also wear it as a jacket or duster. GET OUT OF TOWN!

This business of buying sustainable stuff can be frustrating at times and it often doesn’t work, particularly when buying online. Then at other times, it all comes together and you realise that buying small batch clothing (especially from brands run by women who are workers, mothers, normal humans who have to move around in the world) can be a true long term investment that makes your life easier. That’s what I’m talking about!

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OUTFIT DETAILS

Cocoon Dress: MuuMuu (small batch maker of 100% pure Japanese linen) http://www.shopmuumuu.com

Shoes: Birkenstocks; Midas flats

Cap: Huffer

 

Fashion

Confessions of a (Semi) Conscious Consumer

I completely fell off the wagon this past week. My 3 month fashion buying freeze turned into a fashion buying frenzy in the space of about 3 minutes. In a big way. You may think I’m exaggerating but here goes. Let me lay my shame out for you all to see. I purchased:

  • 2 tops from a sample sale
  • 1 last pair of heavily reduced jeans that may or may not be the right size for me
  • 1 pair of trousers (last run, not to be repeated)
  • 1 cocoon dress I had been coveting for ages which was on a great secret discount

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Can you see a pattern here? I’m a sucker for sales, good offers and discounts. And I made a huge mistake in not preparing myself by shutting down all social media when starting this challenge. So I’ve mentally flogged myself all week, thought about giving up completely and have now come to confess. Clear my sins. Ah, the psychology of consuming.

This is ultimately what interests me the most. The “whys” of what we do with our consuming. For me the prospect of a bargain features very strongly as does the buzz of a last chance sales situation. I’m a marketer’s dream. There is also the internal psychology of what we perceive a purchase will achieve for us. This piece of clothing will turn us into a different person – cool, fashionable, comfortable with ourselves, confident. Once we achieve the perfectly curated capsule wardrobe our life will be changed. Things will be better. I know all of this and yet I still fell for it. So much to learn! So in the spirit of not giving up, I’m going to get back on my bike and keep trying.

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On the plus side, my purchases were all from local brands with ethical production methods so when I get the sizing right, I do expect them to be wardrobe staples that will last many years. And I hope to make some sales of my own unwanted items to offset some of the costs. Some lessons learned!

Would love to hear from anyone else struggling with their no purchase challenges so feel free to comment below or on Instagram.

xx

 

 

Fashion

Making Ethical Mistakes?

I may have made a HUGE mistake. I’ve signed up for Fashion For Good’s three month fashion challenge which involves:

  • 2500 People
  • 3 Months
  • No New Clothes

Little did I realise that around this time the whole of America goes on sale for the 4th of July. Everywhere I look, my favourite clothing brands are offering great deals, super specials or creating new fabulous pieces that I “really, really want” to quote the Spice Girls. Insert very sad emoji face. However…this is exactly the point! And precisely what I need at the moment. A little brake pedal on the purchasing power. A reason to pause and consider. Time to ask all those useful questions –

*Do I really, really need this item?
*Have I already got something similar in my wardrobe?
*Can I buy the same item or similar second hand?
*Will waiting 3 months for this item kill me? (It might if State the Label release more petite sized Origami pants in Smoke before September 21st…)   

Out in the social media sphere, some sustainable fashion bloggers have embraced the challenge while others have expressed their reasons for not subjecting themselves to this ridiculous torture…I mean, for joining in. All equally valid viewpoints and ultimately a personal choice about what works for you. I’ve jumped in feet first because it helps me to shine a light on the issue of my wants versus my needs. I’m as guilty as anyone in deluding myself with the notion that I’m doing a good thing by shopping sustainably, so therefore it’s not over shopping. Or do I call that Unconscious Consuming? I think sustainable/ethical/slow fashion is definitely a good thing. However I also find myself seduced by the beautiful Instagram pics, the marketing, the influencers, the weight that a label of “handmade, ethical or sustainable” gives to a product. Which at the end of the day remains a product. Ideally, the best thing we could do is consume less products. There’s already plenty here.

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There’s been some interesting discussion on social media this past week about authenticity, influencers, consumerism and the question of whether sustainable fashion really impacts on change at all. I have my own suspicions that a lot of what is out there is clever marketing dressed up in a cloak of feel good finery. There’s nothing wrong with people wanting to sell things to other people. It’s what we do. The key is the transparency of this process. It becomes complicated when you are presenting yourself or your brand as a community, a helper, different to other businesses, when the reality is really sales based. It’s important to point out that this also goes both ways. Small businesses are also duped by influencers seeking gifted products that they forget to market or review. People buy Instagram likes or collude in groups to like each others posts in order to bump up their numbers and make them seem more credible. Influencers forget to mention they haven’t paid for the products they’re showcasing or which companies are paying them for their content.

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All rather depressing hey! I’m no expert in this area but I’m enjoying the discussions, the different viewpoints and the gaining of knowledge through free courses and reading. And while the 3 month challenge might be challenging, I think it’s going to go a long way in helping me reconsider what I already own, to reuse, recycle or repair, rather than add to the mountain of items already there.

Further Reading & Resources

3 Month Challenge – Fashion For Good
Check out @fashionforgood on Instagram or http://www.fashionforgood.com and tag your posts with #slowfashionsummer

Interesting article on conscious consumerism as a lie
https://qz.com/920561/conscious-consumerism-is-a-lie-heres-a-better-way-to-help-save-the-world/

Check out Leah Wise’s thought provoking post ‘Walk The Walk: What Thomas Jefferson Can Teach Us About the Dangers of Moral Licensing’
http://www.stylewise-blog.com

Fashion Revolution: Who Made My Clothes?
Free short course via Future Learn

Fashion · Slow Life

Ethical Addictions

I’m currently trying to create a more ethical, streamlined wardrobe for myself, as much as I hate how wanky that sounds. I recognise the financial freedom and privilege inherent in being able to sit around and contemplate not only my navel but what pieces of fabric I have hanging in my wardrobe. There’s plenty of other people in the world who are too busy pondering how they’re going to feed themselves or find shelter, rather than who made their clothes or whether their wardrobe reflects their true personality. I get it.

I think part of what I am really wanting to achieve though, is removing that whole process from my life. I don’t want to have to think about what I’m wearing or care what it looks like or how I might be judged by my on-trend friends. The whole focus on fashion and how we look does seem like such a superficial activity that takes up time we could spend thinking and acting on much bigger problems.

Simplify to amplify?

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I know I’m stuck in the attempting to simplify stage and a lot of it feels very indulgent and self-focussed. I know myself well enough to also recognise that the ethical clothing focus gives me another excuse to obsess and shop. I’m aware that I’m probably a little lonely, unoccupied and bored. This becomes dangerous territory for sinking into social media overload and a consumerist approach to trying to make things better.  When I can just get my wardrobe sorted, things will be easier. When my outfit, house, children and leisure activities look as shiny as they do on other people’s Instagram accounts, I’ll be okay. All of this is ultimately complete bullshit.

No matter how shiny you look, you’re still dealing with what is underneath it all. So what is the point? For me, the idea of trying to simplify life is about getting back to a place with less choice, less confusion and less noise. I’ve just finished reading Cait Flanders book The Year of Less about her own struggle with consumerism in an attempt to make herself “better”. Cait has undertake several different self-projects to deal with addictive behaviours in her life including drinking, debt and clutter. This book documents a year in which she attempts to reduce her belongings and restrict her spending.

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Cait’s story is a great example of the way in consumerism can control us and leave us stuck in a never ending cycle of buying to soothe. I haven’t articulated it very well today but this is the idea behind what I am wanting to do and part of a greater vision for how the world could be a better place. Being happier by having less. Less stuff, less decisions to make, less waste.

Worthwhile? Or wanky?

Let me know your thoughts and feel free to share any of your own ethical dilemmas in the pursuit of a slow life.

 

 

Slow Life

How Slow is Too Slow?

Slow is definitely the new black at the moment which is great news for those with compromised high energy. Moving countries has accentuated my own inherent slowness, shining a great big spotlight on my preference for taking a very long time to do everything, even when I have almost nothing to do and nobody to speak to. But how ready is the world to truly accept slowing down?

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Despite my own slow nature, I noticed this morning how I was hurrying my children on the walk to school. On chillier mornings, water runs along the street verges and all three of them find leaves, pods or small sticks to throw in, follow down our road, around the corner and see whose vessel wins the race by being the first to shoot down the drain. In the background of the squealing, shouting and accusations of cheating, I nag at them to leave it, come on, hurry up, keep walking, PLEASE…..hurry up. This morning I even threw in a hairy old chestnut – “If you’re late to school and get detention, I’m not waiting for you, you’ll have to get home by yourself.” Clearly a blatant lie.

Yes we have to get to school on time. That’s important. However so is what they were doing. They were doing naturally what we all spend time, money and resources trying to achieve – pure mindfulness. They have zero concept of time. My children knew they were walking to school but they had no anxiety about needing to get there in a hurry. The water was there and they had to be involved in that. Simple pleasure.

We talk about whether mindfulness should be taught in schools, the benefits of booking kids into yoga classes and how to help them be less technology trapped and more nature based. Yet on a day to day level, what we are actually communicating to them is – Hurry up. Go faster. You’re wasting my time. Get through things as quickly as you can. Finish your homework. Move on to the next thing. Attend multiple after school activities. There’s no time to stop and smell the roses, or race tiny vessels in the verge water.  Move it, move it, MOVE IT!!

Tomorrow we’re going to leave for school early and watch the vessels complete their entire journey.

Leaf

Fashion

Get Your Tags Out

Fashion Revolution Week is here and it’s a great week for the uninitiated to get some fast info on fast fashion and why it’s time for a change. However I will admit, the information can be a little overwhelming. So if you’re asking fash what, here’s a brief blog post of the basics with ideas of where to start.

Fash What?

Fashion Revolution Week aims to educate, encourage and inspire people all over the globe to consider the fashion they consume and where it came from. The hope is that together we can make the fashion industry a safe space for everyone to work, shop and play. The #whomademyclothes is a prompt to consider where your items originate from by asking your favourite brands who makes their clothes.

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Kowtow made my shirt and the Good On You app gives them 5 stars

Fash Why?

The movement developed as a result of the 2013 Rana Plaza clothing factory collapse in Bangladesh in which 1134 people were killed. The movement has multiple goals, including safe conditions and fair pay for those working in the fashion industry, being gentle with our environment in garment production and reducing waste by resusing, repairing, recycling and reloving our gear! Read more about Rana Plaza below:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/global-development/2018/apr/24/bangladeshi-police-target-garment-workers-union-rana-plaza-five-years-on

Fash Who?

Fashion Revolution are a not-for-profit organisation leading the movement, not just during Fashion Revolution Week but all year round. Check out their great work below or follow them on social media for useful tips and prompts to get you thinking:

https://www.fashionrevolution.org/about/

Fash Where?

Everywhere! Check out the events on Fashion Revolution’s site in your location or scroll through your Instagram feed for happenings near you!

Fash When?

Now baby! Fashion Revolution Week is from Monday 23rd – 29th April.

Extra Ideas for Your Own Exploration

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Books/Mags

Blogs

  • Eco Cult https://ecocult.com/
  • Sarah Wilson http://www.sarahwilson.com/
  • 1 Million Women https://www.1millionwomen.com.au/

Apps

  • Good on You: Ethical Fashion (brand ratings)

Happy Revolution peoples – let me know how you get on!

xx

Thrifting

Thrifty is the New Black

Once upon a time, thrift stores were crusty old places with worn out items that smelt a little like the back of your Great Grandma’s closet. Not anymore! For those of you who haven’t taken the plunge and plundered the racks of your local op-shop/thrift store/charity outlet, here’s some visual evidence of the treasures that are out there for the taking.

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Floral jacket ($8) and Diana Ferrari heels ($7), both from Aussie op-shops. 

I love this next shirt, the colour doesn’t show up as well in the pictures but it’s a retro pattern in orange, white and black. It has a plunging V-neckline, drapes beautifully and is really flattering over the stomach area. This one was $10 from a regional op-shop in Australia.

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The white shirt below is from Picnic and was $15 from a Save The Children op-shop. It looks brand new and is equally smart for work or play. Shoes are as previous by Diana Ferrari ($7) – I think these were also never worn as the soles were pristine. As your soul will be pristine when you support your local charity!

I hope these items from my second hand sourced wardrobe encourage some of you to consider thrift shopping in the future. Buying pre-loved clothing:

  • reduces landfill
  • reduces demand for fast fashion
  • contributes to your local charities
  • saves you money
  • creates a unique wardrobe that won’t be the same as everyone you know
  • helps the planet

What’s not to love about that!!!