Slow Fashion Challenge 2019: the last stretch

This past June 21st I have started a three-month long restricted diet: no new clothes.

Why?

The only way to turn the wave of sustainable living lays within each one of us. The major obstacle to transitioning the fashion business from polluting to clean one is over production. Fast fashion colossal businesses strive in a force-fed system of overflowing customers eyes with products produced faster than chicken that in 2 weeks has to grow a lifetime to become a patty.

In front of millions of tonnes of garments spitted out of those infamous production chains every week, the daily actions of one single person may seem a drop in the ocean, but we are in a state of emergency, everyone must do something.

I have pledged to not buying for three months last year and I ended up filling the closet up with second hand clothes purchased on the whim and the high of an irresistible deal, with the promise I would find a way to wear them somehow. At the end of the summer, when I did my switching of the closets, I collected a pile of clothes for donation that was almost equivalent to the amount of clothes I had purchased. That addiction to the thrill of the bargain was still lingering.

See where I went?

The same mistake of over spending done with a clean conscience doesn’t make it sustainable by no means.

Although many people thinks of it that way.

Nobody is perfect, something had gone real wrong, at the end my superfluous second hand clothing became third hand and I was lucky enough that was swapped and became somebody else’s treasure. But, there had to be a better way of applying sustainable practices than going back to square one.

I pledged again, this time I had some virtual buddies, I somehow coerced my daughter in the game, but I had also a visual plan of keeping it unique, chic and minimal. The more you keep the racks of your closet clean, the more your imagination has to be the one on over run, because at the end of the road minimal can become boring, like a marriage. I always say, or maybe that was Mary Poppins, that if you prefer shopping in your closet first, you are half way through the most elegant finish line.

Success has a thousand mothers, failure is an orphan.

I went through so many mishaps, trials and errors, one too many times I ended up having an overflowing closet full of garments that didn’t mean anything to me. Still I grew up guided by the image of my grandmother’s armoire, by her rituals of moving the garments up and down according to the seasons, spot washing, ironing, polishing, repairing, mending knits, fastening a button, replacing a zipper with the same attention and love that she’d keep my smoking dresses for all the cousins to come, not to mention guarding them for my daughter.

Thinking back at all of the above, I had the privilege of growing up surrounded by craftsmanship, art and history, in a family where we cherished the example of the previous generations as an inspiration instead of something to steer away from. I learned skills like cross stitching, sewing, knitting mending, fixing and cooking on the go, that is, we were never sat to be taught, we were living and learning.

Enough though, how do we survive another month of not buying NEW clothes? By checking in with the something we overlook when taken by the whirlwind of buying sprees: #wearyourvalues



Some considerations ahead.

  • Is less more? It’s up to you to make it more by purchasing things that have the umpf, that carry enough quality that you want them to last.

  • Use the stop and smell the roses cliche’ and ask questions when you buy something, the same way you want to buy local honey.

  • If you buy second hand and the description doesn’t include the composition of the fabric or yarn, ask for it.

  • Pre screen the brands you choose to buy from, even if it’s a re-sale item, keep yourself informed with the Good on You app, the Fashion Revolution Transparency Index, become familiar with the Common Objective website.

  • You become a “consumer” after you wear, care for and cherish your clothing, a “mindless spender” for the sake of the trend or the Instagram influencer. I am not here to criminalize bloggers or influencers, they need to live too, but their role of serving as sirens to Ulysses is so over.

  • Look for the storyteller, appreciate the talent, efforts, workmanship, research and creativity behind designer collections.

  • Collaborate with your local consignment store and ask them to keep an eye for that piece from that collection you would like to own.

All of the above looks like a hell of a lot of work, but that’s how you end up saving money for quality pieces that will make you feel empowered to wear them day in and day out. Because, one thing we never do: we don’t keep Sunday’s bests, we wear semi couture to the green market.

  • One more thing, I wish it had been my idea, but I read it on the Man Repeller that somehow started integrating conversations on sustainability, probably out a need of connecting with a selected slice of their readers (hem … me?) and to counterbalance their selling platform. This idea of reverse layering is an organized way of putting the more spontaneous “style yourself without any preconceived obligations of uniformed office dressing or cocktail attire.” In other word, who says that you cannot wear a bra top over a shirt or a skirt over a dress?

One of my favorite things to do toward the end of a season—both out of necessity and for my own amusement—is to daydream about new ways to wear the clothes in my closet that are starting to feel old. I observe zero limits when it comes to the kinds of styling experiments this can entail, and to be honest, sometimes the results are surprising even to me.
— E. Tamkin x Man Repeller
reverse layering

reverse layering