It has been a while since I’ve written a personal post about my Made in USA fashion journey. It has been a topic I have been passionate about since exploring the tragedies that left many people dead in Bangladesh when their sweatshop collapsed. Consumers and bloggers are caught in the crossfire of big fashion companies that just want you to consume. I could not turn a blind eye and neither should you. I’m going to share some of the things I have done and learned, but also some goals.
1. Goodbye Forever 21 – the first and easiest thing I did was to rid my closet of all items from Forever 21. I bundled them all up and took it to Goodwill, and suddenly my closet felt much better. It was by no means easy. I hate being wasteful, and I felt like this was purposely being wasteful. Not everyone gets the luxury to do something like this or even want to do something of this scale. I know this, and I’m not naive about it. But it was something I needed to do to make the right steps towards this journey. The plan is to eventually repeat this with all the H&m that is left in my closet.
2. Last year, I made a big pledge. I promised and forced myself that when I bought new clothes, it would have to be made in the USA. This was HARD! Damn hard. Because the temptation is around you all the time. For the first few months while shopping at Target (and I loved Target clothes, collaborations and all) I had to make a beeline AROUND the clothing. I just didn’t want to be tempted. And you know what? This also meant I was shopping drastically less, WHICH WAS THE WHOLE DAMN POINT! It took me all that to realize that the big solution was to just shop less. We don’t need to be shopping all the time. I hope to continue this. But, this big goal with actualized with the help of the two points below.
3. When I started my Spotlight series researching and discovering brands that are designing, creating, and manufacturing in the US, I wanted it to be a motivation for me to introduce some of these brands into my own wardrobe. Some are affordable enough I can do this! I hope I can introduce you to some brands you’ll find interesting and notable too.
4. Besides regular thrifting and shopping second hand, another way I have been turning things around has been through thrifting ‘made in US’. Something I have been documenting HERE to show that if you can’t buy made in the US new, then you can always get it gently used. There is a misconception that shopping made in the US is expensive. But really, any shopping can be expensive – I’ve seen clothes at H&m for $100+. What’s really interesting too, is that you end up finding vintage items from brands when they used to manufacture in the US!
5. I’m making small (very small) steps on this goal, but I want to continue making more clothes for myself. I bought myself some nice fabric the other day to get the wheels spinning. Because guess what folks? Making clothes is HARD! It requires precision and quick thinking, but also lots of patience. Sewing is one of those *ain’t nobody got time for that* things, so it’s totally not responsible to have a person get paid pennies so that you can buy $10 pants. I’m going to continue finding some library books with patterns and sewing tips (send any recommendations this way!)
6. One of my favorite things that has happened through keeping this blog and learning about fashion, is truly appreciating the clothes my mom makes just for me. And I’m going to keep bugging mom to make me clothes. She has a dress she can’t find time to finish between making stuff for herself, I’m going to give her a call to remind her! I have bonded with her so much over something so little. It’s truly a luxury I do not take for granted. If you can ever get something made just for you, do it. See if there’s a tailor in your neighborhood that can make a custom piece just for your body, pick your own fabric and fit – it’s a great feeling and you wear your clothes with pride.
7. One big thing that is my next long term goal, is to eventually buy more shoes not made in China. Because most large manufacturing companies have moved overseas, a majority of shoes are made in China. I still have to explore the world of shoes made in the USA (if that’s even a thing? Enlighten me if you know). But I know amazing quality shoes are often made in Brazil from their fine leathers, still hand-made in Mexico from fine craftsmen, and amazing shoes that have been made in Italy for many generations. Another thing that’s going to be difficult, but not an overnight change.
These are all long term goals that anyone can incorporate at any budget and lifestyle. Don’t ever think that you don’t have enough money to revamp or create your wardrobe in this way. Maybe you can’t while you’re in high school, or on a college student budget, but start thinking about it. And if all else fails, thrift first!