The origin of the food we eat has been a topic of conversation among consumers for some time. But what about the clothing we wear everyday? Where does it come from, how is it made, and what makes a tee-shirt, pair of jeans, or a scarf ethically and environmentally conscious?
My journey started almost a year ago when I decided to be more informed about the clothing I was buying. I felt like I needed to apply the same thinking into the clothing I was wearing as I was into the food I was eating. It was hard to know what to look for and what questions to ask. I quickly found that transparency within the fashion industry was almost non existent. It wasn’t as simple as finding out where something was made because the supply chain for a tee-shirt is so complicated. But I quickly found that taking the time to look at a clothing label had a similar effect to looking at a food label. Reading the words “made in China” felt a lot like finding out your favorite cereal contained “High Fructose Corn Syrup”. As a society we have become accustomed to shopping quickly and thoughtlessly. Clothing has become a commodity to be worn only a few times before getting donated, thrown out, or shoved to the back of your closet. Adding thought into the process of shopping is a quick way to add meaning to the clothing you are buying. Becoming a thoughtful consumer of fashion is the easiest way to transform your closet.
Knowing more about the clothing you are buying is possible, but following the supply chain does get complicated! You can start with the seed of a cotton plant, how that plant is grown and where. Then you take into account the workers environment, how they are treated, the production of the cotton plant from the time it is picked to the time it is spun into yarn, then the yarn has to be woven into fabric, the fabric is most likely dyed, then cut and sewn into the garment. All of these steps involve people, and most likely machinery and processes that effect people and the environment.
There is a lot of information out there to help guide the consumer in the right direction. As far as the environment is concerned organic cotton, hemp and linen are preferable to non-organic cotton. Ethically speaking it is often easier to follow the supply chain for something that is made in the US. Additionally the US has more strict enforcement of labor laws than other countries such as China and Indonesia. The more information you can find about a brand the better. I’ve found that if nothing is being said about how something is made and where it most likely means there is something to hide.
Luckily, much like the food industry, the fashion industry is becoming more transparent as the demand for the transparency grows among individuals concerned with thoughtful consumerism. But there are so many amazing brands that already exist in the realm of thoughtful clothing. Some that top my list are Esby Apparel, Raw Earth Wild Sky, Tonle Design, Ali Golden, Curator San Francisco, and United By Blue.
If you are interested in learning more about slow fashion and want to start building a more thoughtful wardrobe I'm now offering closet consultations and green styling through Flora Lou Boutique. For more information email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, give me a call at 603.387.3544, or visit the styling section of the website!