My year of fair fashion and what comes after

So it’s been awhile since I last blogged. September seems like an age ago and yep I’ve been slack slack slack. In my head though, I have been thinking of all the things I’ve learned in my year of fair fashion. It seemed appropriate that as 2012 comes to end I get it all out of my head and onto my blog.

Did I let loose in the shops like a woman set free?

Now, you may think that after 365 days, I’d be totally elated at being able to let loose in the main st shops again. That I’d be running around the aisles of Glassons and Max cranking the eftpos card. But, while I admit to buying one item for myself after the year was up (while I was on holiday and needed a pair of black trousers asap) – I didn’t feel a sense of relief.

Knowing what I know about the dark side of fashion now makes it hard to go back to buying the kinds of clothes I used to. Recently in the media there was a story aboutCanterbury rugby balls being made by kids in India. People were shocked but in the world of fashion, this is a common problem.

Even more recently was the fire in a Bangladesh factory making Walmart clothes. Unions are not supported and too often larger brands just don’t have enough control over where their contractors and the sub contractors are getting their products made. I always find it interesting how the price of goods made by cheap labour and especially child labour also don’t seem any cheaper. In the words of local heroes Flight of the Conchords,

“They’re turning kids into slaves, just to make cheaper sneakers, but what’s the real cost? ‘Cause the sneakers don’t seem that much cheaper.

Why are we still paying so much for sneakers? When you got them made by little slaves kids.
What are your overheads?”

What comes next…

With the knowledge that there is an ever-growing demand for ethically produced clothes and products, I can’t shake the feeling that by continuing to vote with my wallet, I am helping to reinforce the message that fair trade labour is the way forward. In doing my fair fashion year I’ve come across some really interesting and inspiring people. The powerful twitter community has been fantastic. One pretty cool story to come out of this was a college girl from the USA who saw what I was doing, followed the blog and twitter account to tell me that she was now inspired to do her own ‘fair fashion year’ with her room-mate.

The lure of ‘stuff’ and instant gratification…

Recently I had a look in Valley Girl, Glassons, Max and Cotton On (all of these shops I used to buy from). I can see the appeal (and I’m not going to judge people for buying from there, it’s convenient and it’s easy). It’s cheap and it’s high fashion on trend stuff that the average person can afford to buy lots of. But what you lack in those shops is real quality and a lot of the time decent customer service. It’s fast fashion and that’s the way we’ve grown to like it.

But I can’t help but think, it’s 2012 and there’s got to be a new take on fashion and the way we consume it. Yes, buying NZ made or ethically hurts the wallet a little at the time, but the benefits are felt long after you’re stressing about the price. If you really want to take out the pain in your wallet, then second-hand is even better. Craft fairs stock awesome jewellery that doesn’t have you looking like everyone else in the room. Craft 2.0 has been great, along with other local markets like Frank Kitts.

Shops and brands I couldn’t have done without

Recycle Boutique has been an incredible place to find gems and great bargains. Ziggurat and Secondo have also been great. Second hand in general has been the best way to make the year affordable and get a unique range of items. Starfish and Kilt while more expensive (but still reasonable) are totally worth it for product that is timeless and goes the distance and great customer service. Kowtowis amazing and a locally based brand that has gone from strength to strength along with Mondegreen. Rex Royalealso stocks lots of lovely NZ made brands. Getting your clothes tailor-made is another great option. I have worn my LBD so much – Toni was amazing at adapting the pattern and making it a dress for all occasions.

Theme for 2013 – make it!

On that note, the next theme for 2013 is going to be me making my own clothes. This theme will force me to make my own stuff and commit to sewing classes. I am going to be a proper “Little Miss Crafty”. I recently went to Starfish’s famous workroom sale and bought some lovely hand dyed organic fabric to make something out of.

The Fashion workshop run by Jenny has been a great way to learn to make my own clothes. I use the bag I made all the time and have just completed a snuggly comfy hoodie. Next year my friend and I will be learning how to make dresses and we can’t wait! My trusty Bernina has been magic (thanks mum).

Thanks to you – the lovely readers

I want to say a BIG thanks to all those who have subscribed to my blog and also commented on it. I really appreciate the feedback and it inspires me to keep going with a worthwhile mission. Keep on commenting and spreading the word about amazing ethical brands. See you on the flip side.

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