Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Rough Diamonds

Heads up: This is a text-heavy meta-post about writing and reading style blogs. Feel free to leave if those topics don't interest you.

Melted Gold Coin


Today a brand contacted me about sponsoring a post. At first I was thrilled! Obviously making money by blogging is the dream scenario. But then I looked into this brand a little more, and my elation quickly departed. I just can't feel good about promoting a big jewelry company that specializes in precious metals and "natural" gemstones. (Brilliant Earth does a good job of explaining why.) So I forced myself to decline the offer.

In a similar vein, it depresses me to see blogger after blogger wearing clothes from Asos, Nasty Gal, Forever 21, etc. You don't know where those clothes came from! Who sewed the pieces together? Who operated the machines that produced the fabric and the thread? Were any of those workers paid a living wage? There is so much labor abuse in a "first world" country like the US, so I doubt that Thai or Bangladeshi garment workers are being compensated fairly. Do people just not think about this? Do they not make the connection between their choices and other people's lives? Do they not care?

I am not saying that I am any better. There are areas in which I'm good at being ethical. But there are also areas in which I'm pretty terrible. And it seems that I lack the ability to change all of my bad habits at once. Wow, this is kind of discouraging to think about!

On the bright side, ethical fashion bloggers do exist. I don't know if that's how Marlen Komar thinks of herself, but Messages on a Napkin is all about small independent shops that mostly sell vintage or handmade goods. Plus, look how stylish she is:

Marlen Komar


Two others who spring to mind immediately are Annika of The Pineneedle Collective and Dus of Cuddly Cacti. I know there are more.

Thoughts on this whole topic?

10 comments :

  1. Oh Forever 21...not a fan at all! Their clothes don't even last but once I found out their practices I had to stop purchasing from them. And I didn't even realize Asos was at fault as well - I only have 2 maternity pieces from there but would have forgone purchasing them had I known. It's such a shame.

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    1. To be fair, I don't have any specific information on Asos. I mentioned them because I assume any big fast-fashion company is doing unsavory things. Perhaps that's not true? I'll have to do more research. But yes, it is definitely a shame!

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    2. Yeah I usually make the general assumption that any company not stating they're trying to do good in their manufacturing practices is doing bad. It sounds so pessimistic but after hearing so much more about fashion companies lately I felt that was the best way to go, unfortunately.

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  2. Thank you for the shout-out, I really appreciate it Sonya! I definitely make an effort to showcase items that are both good for the planet and people, either through secondhand/vintage, handmade/fair trade. In that same light, I do have a few old pieces that I purchased a few years ago from fast fashion companies, but I just skip citing where they were from a lot of times. There's no "rule" that bloggers have to state where an entire outfit was from, you're actually just giving free advertising for that company, so I figure if I'm doing that, it should definitely be to support a good one, which I am always more than happy to do when it is. And not like F21, UO, Anthro, etc. ever need the advertising... totally boggles my mind. anyway, wonderful post girl!

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    1. I totally agree! For a while I listed ALL the brands I was wearing, even though the clothes were old or thrifted/gifted, for two reasons: 1) If I like the clothes I wanna give credit to the maker, the same way I give credit when I post art on Tumblr. 2) Everyone whose blog I read does it. But then I realized that no one gives a damn what I'm wearing, and I was like, "Why bother?" Haha. Also, the actual designers who work for Old Navy or wherever don't get any credit, so it's not like I can cite the real artists. Plus the whole free advertising thing that you mentioned is a factor.

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  3. You bring up a good point about where our clothes come from, and if the people involved are making enough money to get by. I think a red flag for me is a price so low that it seems absurd. It's either going to be cheaply made or put together for a low wage, or both. It's easy to forget when you aren't actually looking at the people making the clothes... out of sight, out of mind. Everything that you are using was designed by someone, and then put together by either a machine or a person or both. It's an important choice to make when buying any item of clothing, because your money goes into supporting their company. With companies like Wal-Mart, I don't see how they will stop functioning anytime soon, but if large portions of people band together to buy strictly used or independently made clothing items, then I can see how change would be possible.

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    1. Absolutely. You outline the issue very articulately.

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  4. I've definitely thought about this issue on and off during my time as a style blogger. I love being able to support independent brands and the idea of avoiding large manufacturers, but often times it comes down to cost. Every time I find anything handmade or vintage that I love, it blows my budget right out of the water, which is a little heartbreaking. These days anything I own from F21 or Urban are items that I purchased years ago back in college and I find ways to wear them over and over again. I'm trying to stray further and further away from those bad boys. But reading this is definitely bringing the topic to the forefront of my mind again.

    But good for you for declining that offer! Sometimes it can be hard to say no, but it's more important to make sure you can see yourself supporting that brand and if their vision aligns with yours. :)

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    1. Yeah, for sure. Thank you for responding so thoughtfully, Jen!

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