Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sustainable Fashion

When I started my volunteer year, I knew that "living simply" on a limited budget would require a change in my shopping habits. A lot of the money I made at my college part-time job went toward clothing purchases, many of them not that useful. So, after using my graduation gifts to stock up on some business wear basics, I resolved not to buy retail for a while.
Luckily the California Volunteers are expert thrift store shoppers. Their creative outfits and adventurous spirits inspired me to overcome my fear of second-hand stores. Instead of dreading the ill-fitting castoffs of middle aged women, I have learned to hunt for unique, useful and interesting things. For a total of $20, I have acquired a blouse, cardigan, dress, tote bag, and skirt that are now favorites in my wardrobe.

Avoiding the clothing racks of malls and Target has been good for me. It's made me think about what I actually need and want. It has also increased my sense of personal style. Working with what I already own, I have become more confident about mixing and matching pieces or trying new color combinations. The lovely ladies of academichic and other blogs have provided great inspiration for this.

You could say that I have gotten in on the recent trend of "sustainable fashion." You could also say that NFNF is eco-friendly in the way we "recycle" hundreds of baby outfits and items every year. I don't really worry if my tshirts are organic cotton, but I like the idea of reusing what is already around.

Here's a stylish woman doing that with The Uniform Project. She's wearing 7 copies of the same dress for 365 days, to raise money and awareness for school kids in India. This isn't exactly poverty, since she's going to need an army of loaned accessories to make it all year. Still, I love the idea of the challenge and the resourcefulness it will require. It's also a great show of solidarity with As a fellow veteran of school uniforms, I agree that they are really an opportunity for self-expression.

Today I also learned that my alma mater will be offering a freshman seminar in "ethical fashion." In today's global economy, it is
"all the more necessary for design to be relevant to the communities it represents and serves. In short, sustainable communities produce sustainable clothes—and a community is sustained when its workers earn living wages."
I liked the story of a village in Brazil where women formed a seamstress cooperative, selling traditional fuxico rosettes made from scraps of fabric.
“In essence, the project has helped create the antithesis of the multinational sweatshop. Today, the cooperative works with other prominent designers and labels throughout the world and truly serves as a model for what can happen when you have a greater sense of interconnectedness.”

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