Thursday, June 5, 2014

Style Wise

Leah Wise runs a semi-eponymous sustainable fashion blog, Style Wise, and a vintage clothing company called Platinum & Rust. I admire her insight regarding issues of consumerism, so I was delighted when she agreed to offer her perspective on a few questions that I've been struggling with.

Mini Protest Banner: Reiss shop Sept 2012


Fashion Fragile: You're a passionate advocate for ethical fashion. How do you deal with friends and acquaintances who buy from stores like Forever 21? Do you feel angry at them? Is there a productive way to voice disapproval?

Leah: For the most part, I don't get angry. I recognize that most people have an ethical issue or issues they focus on, whether it be poverty, animal welfare, agricultural sustainability, conservation, etc. It'll take all of us a while to care about everything that matters and to act accordingly. I do, however, bring up fair trade and sustainability often enough in conversation to know that people are hearing me out. I hope that I'm getting people thinking so they can transition toward more sustainable living, even if that takes a long time.

I do get frustrated with people who have heard my spiel and outwardly agree with me while showing no signs of changing their consumer habits. But I try to consider the legitimate reasons why change could be hard for them. People less preoccupied with clothes and shopping than me are, understandably, frustrated that they would have to think so much about what and where to buy when they could just pick something up at a nearby store and be done with it.

future yellow locally sourced clothing blue indigo dress

// Nicolás Boullosa: 1, 2, & 3 //

Fashion Fragile: Do you enjoy the process of reshaping your consumer habits, or is it a chore?

Leah: At first, I rebelled. I love shopping, always have, and even though I have a small budget for clothing, I was used to seeing something I liked and being able to buy it. Even after I decided that this needed to become a way of life for me, I was annoyed that I would have to alter my preferred way of dressing. If you want to shop more fairly and sustainably, you'll likely have to forego a lot of seasonal trends because they just don't make sense in the long run and ethical retailers don't carry them anyway. Now I'm beginning to embrace a bit more simplicity in the way I dress, which makes it easier to find clothing and accessories through more ethical channels. I'm still working to buy less overall, though. I don't think I can endorse a fair trade lifestyle without understanding that a key part of the unsustainable lifestyle I'm fighting against is overconsumption.

Goodwill

// Brad.K //

Fashion Fragile: In your opinion, is it sustainable to rely heavily on thrifting? What would secondhand shopping look like in an ideal future?

Leah: I think thrifting is both a short-term solution and a healthy part of sustainable living. Reusing castoffs is great and makes shopping sustainably an option for all income levels. For awhile, I thought that thrifting was THE solution to fast fashion, but that would mean that human creativity and craftsmanship in the clothing industry would no longer have value, and I'd hate for us to lose that. Creating new clothing has the potential to provide fulfillment and employment to millions of people if done in an ethical manner. We just have to be careful to produce in smaller quantities. The great thing is that providing a fair wage means that fewer people per household have to work to make ends meet, so a loss of jobs initially shouldn't make much of a difference in the long term. Higher price points will also force consumers to consume less overall, which means less waste. I rely heavily on thrifting to create my wardrobe, but have started saving up to buy fairly produced garments and accessories.

Thoughts? Responses? I want your input too.

2 comments :

  1. I live for thrifted treasures and I always dress well. Right now I'm wearing a gorgeous Banana Republic brown wool skirt and beautiful white linen shirt - both thrifted. But sometimes, walking into a Thrift with $40 and walking out with a whole new wardrobe also feels like fast fashion to me. I have way too much. More than I need. But justified because, 'I only spent $2.99 on it.'
    I agree with Leah, Thrift is not THE answer. I'm always happier to pay for quality garments constructed from natural fibers with well finished seams. If a garment will last and wear well, it will be worth the price.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You always bring such a measured and mature perspective to the table, Karen. It's like you're a grownup or something =P

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