“This… stuff? Oh… ok. I see, you think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select out, oh I don’t know, that lumpy blue sweater, for instance, because you’re trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don’t know is that that sweater is not just blue, it’s not turquoise, it’s not lapis, it’s actually cerulean. You’re also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves St. Laurent, wasn’t it, who showed cerulean military jackets? And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. Then it filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and so it’s sort of comical to me how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room. From a pile of stuff.”
Meryl Streep as Miranda Priestly in The Devil Wears Prada
Think about what you’re wearing as you read this. Maybe it’s a well-worn shirt from your favorite brand. Chances are you know the fabric… cotton, cotton/ poly blend, silk. We all have our preferences. Do you know where it was made? It says where it was made right on the label, but how many of us really check? I recently came across the story of designer Carin Mansfield, who is part of the slow fashion movement. The slow fashion movement is all about clothing that is sustainable – this means it was produced with consciousness and is expected to last. In fact, Mansfield says that one of her shirts will last 50 years! I don’t really think that is a good selling point for my fashion-hungry self who loves getting something ‘new’ even if it is from the local thrift shop. However, there is a lot to be said about questioning where our garments are being made, who is making them, where the raw materials are coming from and what harm they might be doing along the way.
Afterall, it is accepted practice to choose free-range eggs because we want to feel that the chickens didn’t suffer, so we can enjoy our huevos rancheros guilt-free. But what about the clothing we buy?
Most of us express outrage when news items about child labor or poor working conditions connected to a brand we support come to light. But how many of us really follow through? How many of us ask where something was made before we buy it?
This month our writers explore fashion. There is an element that is common to each piece our writers submitted this month, an urging, between the lines, for more consciousness and meaning to the clothes on our backs. That we should honor the tradition and origin of style as well as the process of creation and craft.
See you next month,