I have a confession to make guys. I’m ashamed to admit it, but even though I am well aware of what it takes to make a garment, and of the bad circumstances garment workers live and work in, I still bought fast fashion until fairly recently. It got worse when we settled in rural France. The only clothing shops here are big brands that practically advertise with the fact that they are cheap, and I often went for the most convenient option. I never felt good buying these clothes, but I did it anyway. I found myself thinking of the person who had made it, and apologising to them for supporting the system. The sweater below is the most recent item I bought. My body had returned to normal after my pregnancy, and I felt I ‘deserved’ some new clothes. With hardly any time to make something, I went shopping. But two days after wearing this sweater, it was pilling like crazy and there were two holes in the back.

A fast fashion sweater on the left, ethical brand on the right.

This was the final drop for me. I had to face the incongruity between my sewing and making my clothes last as long as possible, and buying these cheap low quality clothes. I vowed never to buy fast fashion again. I’m not going to sew all my clothes either, but I will only shop at ethical brands that are transparent about the conditions their garments are made in. This means I will have to spend a lot more if I buy something, but I’ll just have a slightly smaller wardrobe. If you’re wondering why ethical clothing is more expensive, read this article by design studio Elizabeth Suzann. I feel much better about my wardrobe already, and I’m hoping that my clothes will last longer.

The first ethical brand I shopped at was People Tree: the sweater on the right. I liked the style of the cheap sweater, so I got something similar. The tag explains exactly who made it, and what is done to support that community. In this case, this sweater is hand knit by women in Nepal. It also comes with a bit of thread so you can repair your sweater. Now when I think of the person who made my sweater, I am not apologising but thanking them.

This week is Fashion Revolution week, a global movement calling for a clothing industry that does not come at the cost of people or the planet. You can join this week (or anytime) in by asking brands #whomademyclothes.

Do you have any confessions to make? Are you participating this week?

3 Comments

  1. Stacey King

    : Reply to Stacey

    Good blog subject–thanks for the reminder call to awareness. I sew many of the clothes I wear also but usually just because I like them better. I’m wondering though, it’s not just the final garment that has come at the cost of the earth and people, but fabric production industry itself seems to also be a problem. I guess that’s one of the reasons I’d like to see some of the manufacturing return to the United States. I’d be able to visit a plant or factory in the United States and see for myself the conditions. Where do you buy your fabric and where do you not buy your fabric?

    • Lisa Kievits

      :

      You’re absolutely right. Even though we as sewers skip a step in the chain, we’re not there yet. We know little of the environmental consequences of the fabric we buy, unless it’s organic. But for manufacturing to return to the US (or Europe) we’d have to be willing to pay more for it. One of my favorite fabric stores is The Sweet Mercerie. Their fabrics are produced in Portugal. She advocates against the cheap fabrics produced mainly in China.

    • Camie

      :

      I always think about the fabric too! What is it’s impact on the environment and who is making it? And then I get overwhelmed and don’t actually buy any fabric.

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