Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Can Fashion be Sustainable?

Fashion, almost by definition, is a fast-changing (arbitrary?) form of consumption that seems to have excess & inequality built into it. Thousands of new styles are produced each year while a few hundred are picked up and only a handful "stick" to define an era. This must leave many older items to be tossed out every year potentially resulting in lots of waste. In addition, there has been legitimate concern over slave wages and child labor in poorly supervised sewing facilities. Is it possible to adopt trends without so much impact to the environment?

There are many solutions as to what to wear that decrease our impact on the environment:

1. Shop at thrift stores. I found several fantastic, name-brand, in-style items at a thrift store just last week. Of course, I worry that the people who cast them off are feeding into the corporate system in adopting even more recent styles. (Then again, people may always need to turn over wardrobe items that don't work.

2. Learn to sew. This can require a sizeable investment as you are likely to need a dressmaker's form and a friend to help you pin the hems on your pants cuffs. Nevertheless, it can be a fun and interesting endeavor

3. Mend and restyle your old garments. With a bit less skill and equipment required,you can change up what you have to make it more interesting with embellishments, dying, and alterations. You can find hip examples and methods in "Altered Couture," a magazine from Stampington.com.

4. Swap with friends. Trade clothes with friends for a look that is "new to you."

5. If you decide you finally need something new because all your old duds are worn out and, well, "duds," you can find really exciting styles designed and made by hand by one person or a collective on Etsy.com. Personally, I love this model because it helps the individual artist to support him or herself. It keeps the money flowing amongst the non-corporate, truly original designers. You will find things you won't find anywhere else. Shipping uses carbon dioxide which contributes to global climate disturbance. You can choose "shop local" on Etsy to scope out what great items are being made right in your back yard. Bike on over to pick up that perfect necklace. You might even make a friend for life.

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