23 July 2014

Talk // Clothes to Die For

chambray and curls ethical fashion The BBC have just released a documentary about Survivors of the Rana Plaza disaster (This World // Clothes to Die For) and I have chatted  about it with a few people on twitter like Susie Lau from Style Bubble, Lola from Pastime Bliss and Hannah Vickers from Awaywiththefairies so I've currently got lots of thoughts about the clothing industry and ethical fashion rolling around my mind. The documentary starts out with clips from various youtubers doing 'hauls' and it is all a bit uncomfortable. Not because these girls are doing anything heinous but because it confronts us with a truth about our own behavior. That we like stuff, we want new stuff, we like it being cheap and accessible and the pleasures of this fashionable world are enough to make us all want to brush the scary thoughts back away into the recesses of our minds each time we pull out our debit cards.

This was the first time I've actually seen blogging and youtubing directly contrasted against the issues of garment manufacturing and the clothing industry and I'll say it hit home. The thing is that I know I often like and want things more than I care about people far away making them in awful conditions and that is a truth I do not like to admit to myself. When I watch a documentary like this, it reminds me of that side of myself that I do not like, and the side of blogging I don't like. I do not want to be a mass consumer, wanting and buying more things I don't need and won't love, and the fact that that behavior is also supporting the mistreatment of other human beings makes me feel even worse. It was realising that I couldn't keep brushing those feelings to one side which made me want to take an ethical fashion pledge.

The thing is, I don't really think I should be having to make an ethical fashion pledge. I don't think I should be trying to hunt out the manufacturing ethics of every company in the small print of their websites and then trying to untangle the empty words from the meaningful ones (shout to M&S there- what are your 'strict ethical standards' and where can I read about them, hmm?) In my ideal world, fashion isn't tainted by this dirty underside of cheap manufacturing, squeezing every ounce of profit out of every item. Companies would be active in pushing for good conditions and wages, would be open and transparent about their manufacturing and would have a chain of supply that they can actually trace with confidence. We would be able to pop into any shop and know whatever we bought could just be enjoyed as an item of clothing. But to get there, I know that consumers have to push for that in some way so I will. I'll try follow Ghandi's advice and try to be the change I want to see in the world. Put my money where my mouth is. 

Now this is not to say that I am fricking perfect and will never buy an item of clothing made in poor conditions ever again in my life. In fact, last week I broke my pledge for the first time and bought a bikini and kaftan from H&M when I went in with my sister who had vouchers to spend. Being surrounded by so many clothes, on sale, and having a holiday booked I wanted new things for... I succumbed to my wants. But I am trying and most of the time succeeding in making better choices in my purchases. I know that the problems of the clothing industry are myriad- working conditions, wages, chemical usage, material production, sustainability.. the list of horrid scary things about how our clothes are made goes on and on. I know that these things are tied up with complex economic and political issues, that there isn't one clear path forward to a better place so it can all feel quite overwhelming and pointless trying to do anything about that. But I do know that doing something is better than the current situation. I guess for me a big part of ethical fashion is about forcing myself to be educated about the issues, and then acting upon how that makes me feel. If I read or watch something that makes me feel bad, I will try to make better choices. It might only be a drop in the ocean but it is something. 

If you're interested in learning more about ethical fashion, or just want some inspiration, here are some sites I've found interesting and helpful
Ethical Consumer's Buyer Guides
Labour Behind the Label, especially their reports 

How do you feel about the fashion industry and manufacturing ethics? Do you try to think about how your clothes are made or does it all feel too distant? What doe you think about what I've said? I'd like to know, to open up some kind of dialogue about this. 

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10 July 2014

Window Shopping // #1

summer wishlist

I've been browsing the summer sales (and a few places with no sales...) and I've got a few things I'm coveting. Clearly going all out with the bright colours... My sister has been taking the mickey out of me for the amount of black in my 'summer wardrobe' but I can't help it. I am not a bright colour girl!
 I quite enjoy browsing online although I rarely click through to buying, just leaving tabs open and somehow wishing things into my wardrobe! Everything on this wishlist is from an ethically made source, and I love how much easier the internet makes ethical shopping. If you have a little hunt, it is surprising how much is out there- especially thanks to ASOS Green Room. Have you been enjoying a little window shopping too recently? What is on your list?

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06 July 2014

This Week // #16

chambray and curls
Doing: A lot of work and family time. I had a play to get put on in my last week of work, and its been a bit of a tough few weeks for my family too. A lot of my stuff has slid (mainly blog related) whilst I've put my love and energy into looking after my sister and mum but we're getting through things.I'm always slightly taken aback at just how strongly you can love your family and I'm thankful on a daily basis for these two women in my life.
Loving: Being outdoors. Thank goodness for that burst of sunshine! We've all needed a little recuperation time and the two solid days spent on the beach last week were just that. I finally got my first sea swim of the summer and I keep thinking of the phrase above by Isak Dinesen, because I always find the sea makes my soul feel a little better. Sitting in the garden, walking along the coast, going to the sea, I always feel so much calmer for just being able to take in the world around me a little more. Plus, its nice to see the freckles popping up on my nose, and my curls getting a little wilder from the salty water.
Wearing: Maxi skirts, shorts, frayed hem jeans, loose trousers and very little make up. Hello summer!
Daydreaming: Of very little. I've been too busy to stop and think too much but sometimes that's a good thing. There'll be plenty of time for daydreaming...

Links of the week:
I love this guide to assessing the quality of fabrics. I'm a complete fabric snob and spend all my time stroking clothes in stores to decide whether I like them! If you're trying to buy better quality basics, this will help!
Lyndsay's post about Organ Donation is so important. Talk about it with your family, let people know what you think. Noone likes to think of the worst happening but should it happen, make sure things go the way you would like afterwards. It could stop another family becoming broken.
On a more cheerful note, these sets of dogs in photobooths make me ridiculously happy. One to be bookmarked for any dreary days. Just look at their faces!!

Catch up with Chambray and Curls
// Navy and White //