Compassion Fashion Turns One!
I can’t believe it, but one year ago Compassion Fashion made its internet debut! Over the last year this blog has taken me to all sorts of weird corners of the internet. I’ve learned how to read scientific reports, wade through mountains of data, and how to spot greenwashing bullshit. I’ve learned about fashion of course, but also about cultural appropriation, supply chains, and workers’ rights. If I’m being totally honest (and I do strive to be honest with you babes), I started this blog not for you, but for me. I had all these thoughts and questions about fashion running around my brain and I wanted a formalized excuse to put them down on paper. Each week as I think about what to write I follow my curiosity. What am I worried about? What’s bugging me? And this self-investigation has taught me a lot.
Ok, so here we are 52 weeks and 47 blog posts later. What have I learned?
I’ve learned that there is no silver bullet. No one magic thing we can do to change the fashion industry or make it less toxic. The fashion industry branches into every aspect of life and so it will take solutions that branch into every aspect of life to solve them. Do you want to go minimal? Fantastic you’re helping! Do you only buy Fair Trade? Amazing, you’re helping too! Only natural fabrics? Sweet! Only second hand? Perfect! Every little bit helps and we should celebrate those small victories.
Speaking of small victories...the second thing I’ve learned is Don’t Let Perfect Be The Enemy of Good. Oh boy is this an important one. My OCD brain loooooves perfection and meeting consumers of ethical fashion makes me think I’m not the only one. Consumers of ethical fashion are always asking brands to do better which is awesome! BUT. At a certain point it becomes unrealistic to ask ourselves or a brand to do everything. Let me give you an example. I have a friend who owns a handbag company in Central America. She employees women, pays them fair wages, visits them and their families, and buys local supplies for her bags. To me she’s killing the compassion fashion game! However, she’s lamented to me that she’ll get nasty emails from customers upset that her thread is not organic. Listen, I get wanted organic thread I really do, but if she were to purchase organic thread she’d no longer be shopping locally, and then you’d have people pissed about her carbon footprint. My point is the world of fashion is sprawling and we need to take the victories where we can find them. This also goes for us as consumers. Don’t drive yourself crazy trying to find something that meets a 43 point checklist, because *spoiler* you’re not going to find it. Instead look for the thing that hits 2 or 3 criteria and savor your win. Figure out what aspect of compassion fashion speaks to you, and focus on that. You’re just one person, you can’t save the world by yourself.
Perhaps the most important thing I’ve learned in this last year has nothing to do with my research. I went into this venture excited to learn stats and big macro concepts, but what it’s left me with is the exact opposite. I’ve learned that fashion plays an important role in my mental and emotional health. Real talk, I’ve struggled with self-love my entire life. It’s manifested as an eating disorder, anxiety, OCD, avoiding people, letting people take advantage of me, etc etc. I got into the ethical fashion game because I wanted to help other people lead better lives. What I didn’t consider was how it would help me. As I began to pay attention the conditions my clothes were made in they became special. My clothes transformed from a mindless commodity to a sacred object. In each garment I began to see the people that made them, the fields that grew the fiber, the love and effort that went into each stitch. I began taking my time choosing my outfits, I began to care what I wore. After months of doing this, I realized that in slowing down my outfit selection I was creating space for emotional dressing. I was matching my moods with my outfits, bolstering myself when I felt weak, celebrating myself when I felt strong. For the first time in my life I began to take care of myself for no other reason than I deserved it.
So what will this next year bring? I’ll continue to write posts driven by my curiosity, but I’m going to include a new feature: Sacred clothing (title very TBD). In this feature, I’ll share with my outfits and why I’ve chosen them. My hope is that it sparks a deeper connection between you and your wardrobe.
What would you like me to cover in the upcoming year?