Fashion Revolution Week

It's Fashion Revolution week. A week where millions of people around the world will ask Who made my clothes? A week that asks everyone to be curious, find out, and do something. A week to demand greater transparency, sustainability and ethics in the fashion industry. 

This is a cause that I am pretty passionate about but rarely talk about. I think it's because I don't feel well enough informed. So, I've been using this week to learn and to speak up about what ethical fashion means to me. I've been doing this every day this week on Instagram, but I know not everyone is on there, so I wanted to share some of my story here with you as well.

I've been pretty intentional about my clothing purchases for awhile now. And I consider myself very lucky to say I make the majority of my own clothing these days. But making your own clothes doesn't necessarily make a difference. At least not the way I was doing it.

As you know, I've been sewing since I was a girl, but it was only a few years ago, when the world of indie sewing patterns became a thing, that my passion for garment sewing really exploded. I wanted to sew everything all the time! I was so proud to see my handmade wardrobe expanding and my trips to the mall less frequent. One less person supporting fast fashion. Pat yourself on the back, Erin.

However, it was during one of those rare trips to the mall when I had a harsh epiphany. Here I was, literally surrounded by piles of clothing, clothing that looked just like the things I had been sewing, tops and dresses that took me hours of hard work. But here I could pick up something just like it for five bucks and five minutes. I felt sick to my stomach. What the hell was I working so hard for? What's the point? What does it all meeeean?

I knew I had to make a change. 

I realized that I had been binging on cheap fabric much in the same way I used to binge on cheap fashion. "Five dollars a yard? Give me ten! And let me go back and see if there are other colours."
Haha! Sound familiar?

Luckily, once I identified the problem, it seemed like a relatively easy one to fix. It all comes down to slowing down. Slowing down the entire process, from fabric selection to technique. I needed time to think, to plan, to research, to test, to unpick, to make a garment last as long as it can in my closet and the world.

  • Examining my closet and making clothes that I need and that will work with multiple outfits, rather than just jumping on the newest pattern release. Less is more.
  • Choosing quality, ethically produced fabric. This may involve more research than just looking at the bolt. It may mean leaving fabric behind until I can find out more. Easier said than done, right?
  • Sewing my stash. This includes fabric, patterns, and old clothing to repurpose.
  • Taking two days rather than two hours to sew things properly the first time. Muslins and french seams for the win!

It's a practice that needs to be practiced. But I'm trying my best.

I still have a lot to learn. I have a lot of questions and it can be an overwhelming and daunting experience to find answers to them. 

"The label will tell you what materials have been used, such as cotton or polyester. But your label won’t tell you where in the world the cotton was farmed, where the fibre was spun into a yarn, where the yarn was woven into a fabric, where it was dyed and printed. It won’t tell you where the thread, dyes, zips, buttons, beading or other features came from." --

We have to be persistent. If you can't find the answer on the label or on the website, send an email. The Fashion Revolution website is a really excellent source of information. The stats they've been sharing blow my mind. I also highly recommend the book Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion. I was reading that book when I had my mall epiphany. I'm looking for more books to read about the textile industry, if you have any recommendations.

Anyway, that's the rather heady topic that's been in the back of my mind lately, as I sew and as I shop. If you've read this far, I hope you'll start to do the same, if you haven't already. Think about and question where your clothes and fabric came from and who made them. Small changes make big differences!


Nina said...

Yes! A lot of sewers talk about their sewing as being anti-consumerist, and I often feel that really the consumerism is just shifted from garments to fabrics. It's tricky to understand and compare the impacts of different fabrics, and retailers' descriptions can be misleading (e.g. bamboo is sold as being very green) but educating ourselves is the only way forward!

R's Rue said...