An update to humanitarian fashion

Thrift Eye

So I wanted to do a big follow up to my post on thinking about fashion in a humanitarian and responsible way. Julie’s post at We So Thrifty put it into a bigger perspective, I highly recommend you read it. She makes a fantastic point that the fashion blogging community is hesitant to speak out about the subject, because a solution to the problem is to stop shopping – but if you’re a blog that tries to make money from links, partnerships, or things you sell, then you’re cutting into your own profits. It’s a super fine line to walk.

When I wrote my post originally, it came across as “don’t shop here, shop here instead.” Which is great, but a wonderful comment from Mai also gave another angle – the point being that yes thrift shopping is cheaper, but it STILL means shopping sensibly and responsibly. Binge shopping in thrift stores contributes to the waste and consumerism just as much as cheap binge shopping at Wally World, Forever 21, Target, H&m, et al. Shopping irresponsibly is still considered irresponsible no matter what store you’re in. Before you buy at a thrift store (or anywhere really), ask yourself where was this made? Does it fit me? Do I have something just like it at home already? Do I really love it? The point here is to begin seeing your wardrobe as quality over quantity.

For me, as a blogger and just a regular person, how this has manifested since I wrote the blog post over a month ago – I have thrifted once, and I ended up buying a pair of these Marc Jacobs heels for $8 (in above picture). They are of a great quality and of a color I don’t own. But was I tempted to get other things? Yes. Did I? No. I’m not quite sure how to handle the shoe situation, since finding shoes made in USA are harder at the moment. But thrifting is the biggest basket of shopping you can get – from high to low, you get the choice to choose what you want to buy.

I’m choosing to try my hardest to thrift made in USA clothing right now, not just for new clothes. It’s really hard, and I will feel better if I can keep that up, even if it means buying less! I spent January through May of last year without buying a single article of clothing and was still able to live and still able to blog :) I think a lot of bloggers are fearful to try this or admit it because they want to give the impression that they’re shopping a lot and can stay on top of trends. When in reality, many bloggers are getting things for free (whether they admit it or not is a whole other subject), but it incorrectly projects more bad shopping/consumerist examples to other bloggers and to readers.

I’ve found a few charities that promote workers rights and sweatshop rights across the world – helping those stuck in those working conditions and connecting them to more sustainable jobs is a step in the right direction towards getting garment factory workers the rights to better wages and work in better conditions (if you wouldn’t work in those conditions, why is it okay for someone else to?)

So a big part of my other post was listing brands that are made in the USA – personally, I wasn’t aware that many of these brands made an effort to keep their business in the USA. But equally surprised about many brands that don’t keep their business in the US! Please check out the previous post again to see the brands I listed already, here are a few more! But also be proactive and check the tags of your clothing!

I foremost must clarify that in the previous post I listed JBrand as made in the USA, but it has now come to my attention that this only applies to the denim line. Their non denim clothing is made in China. And this frequently happens with more and more brands, as to which you pretty much always have to check the tag yourself to see where it was made. So here are some more Made in the USA brands, if you have any other suggestions or even corrections, please let me know.

Edit: as of January 2013, I’ve gathered up all the Made in USA brands together at this page.

Black Halo
Clover Canyon
Cynthia Rowley – although I’m not 100% sure if it’s the whole brand, can anyone provide insight?
Enza Costa
Doo Ri
Genetic Denim – seems to only apply to denim
Goldsign – again, only seems to apply to denim
Haute Hippie
Jen Kao
Lela Rose
Nation LTD
Norma Kamali – mainline only, check tag
Paige denim
Rich and skinny
Rory Beca

Prices typically do end up higher, but you generally get that back in quality. Think of your clothing as an investment – I can buy something cheap and trendy from Forever 21 that falls apart quickly, or I can choose to buy something that spans trends, fits my personal style, and will last me years from another brand. Start out small, and eventually work this whole mantra into your wardrobe.

Now that more light has been given to the subject, are you starting to feel different about how you shop for clothes? I’m finally beginning to read Overdressed by Elizabeth L. Cline, I’m only one chapter in but can see that even she came to terms with her wasteful fashion consumption, so everyone can! I love that her website has a section called “Ten Simple Tips For a More Ethical & Sustainable Wardrobe” it’s many of the same tips I have provided here, but she has more useful information throughout the website!

tl;dr – shop less, but if you do shop, thrift, get vintage and/or buy made in the USA!