Or, rather, since I don’t think of myself as a fashionable person, Slow Clothes October. Karen Templer of Fringe Supply Co. led this challenge last year and is leading it again this year. She calls it
A celebration of the small-batch, handmade, second-hand, well-loved, long-worn, known-origins wardrobe.
I was delighted when I saw her post about it go up because I’d like to use Slow Fashion October as an excuse to blog about some things that I’ve been meaning to get around to for a while. One of the reasons why I started this blog is that I wanted to talk about yarn ethics and knitting-as-consumerism. So far, however, I’ve mostly just been talking about my current projects.
This year’s theme is definitely focused on the ethics of slow vs. fast fashion. This year’s themes are Long-Worn, Hand-Made, and Known-Origins. Templer started us off with this article on fashion waste and where our second-hand clothes end up, No one wants your old clothes. Note that in this article, H&M come out looking like champions of recycling clothes so it’s easy to forget that a few years ago they were called out for mutilating perfectly good unsold clothes and throwing them in the dumpster. I’m glad that they seem to have mended their ways (oh, pun) and hopefully more retailers will follow suit. (OK, I think that last one isn’t technically a pun because I’m pretty sure “suit” here refers to suits of cards.)
All this reminded me of a beautiful film I came across a couple of years ago, Unravel by Meghna Gupta, about women in India who process the cast-off clothes of Westerners for recycling. This film raises so many questions, but for the purposes of Slow Fashion October it provides perspective on what our habits of wearing cheap clothing and discarding it say about us. The women in these factories have heard rumors that water is so expensive in the West that we can’t afford to wash our clothes, so we just wear them a couple of times and throw them away. They were also worried about the fake pearls and rhinestones they found on our underwear, suggesting that they may be linked to some form of oppression–perhaps prostitution or bride bartering.
This film is a good reminder is that when we throw something away, there is no “away” for it to be thrown. It ends up somewhere–a landfill or factories like these. This film is only 14 minutes long and definitely worth a watch.
I’m hoping to do at least 4 posts for Slow Fashion October and hopefully it will spur me to write more.