The start of a new year is a great time to re-examine your life and make some changes. But New Year’s resolutions seem to have just become an excuse for marketers to get you committed to the latest diet, gym contract or fashion trend.
For me, this is about stopping and examining your life and saying “what means a lot to me, but I don’t give it enough time, energy, resource, or what brings tension and needs softening…”, and looking at how you can resolve that in a positive, mindful way.
For me a major tension was my addiction to fashion alongside my concerns about sweatshops, child labour and the general cruel and unchecked nature of the multi-national, multi-billion fashion industry. Seemingly at odds, I decided to resolve that and find alternatives to fast fashion. Slowly over the course of a few years I have turned my wardrobe into an ethical and environmentally conscious one.
I started with something small. I set up a Facebook page so that I could like and follow ethical and sustainable fashion labels, and share them with my own followers. My Good Emporium was born, and within no time I was feeling connected to a group of like-minded individuals. My degree in social geography allowed me to research the economic geography of free trade multi-nationalism and abuses by major organisations and countries willing to harm their own people in a desperate effort to pay off debts.
What it did was open a door I could no longer shut, and with every item of clothing I bought I started to realise just how much of what we wear was made by someone earning a pittance, living in poverty, working 6 day weeks, 12hour days and still unable to feed their children well, or being children themselves.
During that year I changed my habit, not just buying clothing on the spot but being more mindful about the process. The following year, I cemented that commitment. Instead of grabbing bargains for the sake of it, I really considered the value of buying a particular garment, how it would fit with my current wardrobe, or was it following a particular trend that was short-lived. This was a far more realistic goal than out right committing to only buying fairtrade ethical wear, especially because at that time a couple of years ago, choices were slim, and I was not – and still am not – willing to compromise on my expression of style.
I found that instead of feeling denied, I was enjoying the online browsing and research and thinking about items as investments. Surprisingly, it actually allowed me to truly understand what that personal style was.
What I bought I wore with pride and cared for more. I am still enjoying some of those items, instead of feeling that initial rush of bagging new bargains only to feel deflated a day, a week or a month later when the clothes don’t fit, fade or degrade all too quickly.
By being mindful about the decision and giving myself time, I could also research more ethical options, or visit second-hand stores. I learned about incredible initiatives like the Six Items Challenge, Fashion Revolution and the Who Made My Clothes campaign, and all the incredible local and international designers, advocates, activists and bloggers doing their bit for the revolution.
Since then I have made many resolutions with regard fashion, such as mending my clothes (or having them mended, resoled etc); wearing only 6 items for 6 weeks as part of a Labour Behind The Label annual initiative; wearing only 30 items per season in a capsule wardrobe; buying only items that score high on all the ethical and environmental ratings; emailing fashion brands and asking them to improve their supply chain; sharing my findings.
As a result I now have a small wardrobe or carefully picked, and very much treasured beautiful items both old and new that reflect my dedication to the environment, the people who make our clothes, and yes, even to fashion.
It’s all a journey, and for me it started with a New Year Resolution that was just a small part of my own fashion revolution.
What is your new year fashion resolution?
Hi, I’m Frederique Gulcher. My goal is to share, write, collaborate and encourage more mindful fashion consumption. This is a space to share my own thoughts, tips, likes and discoveries of and about good fashion. I can also help you to do the same. Join me on my journey.
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