When making my tea towels last year, I really wanted to make sure they were of good quality. And it made me realize that I don’t always shop quality.
Over the past few months I’ve been meeting new and interesting people that are really challenging me and the way I think, especially when it comes what I stand for. Something that has really stood out to me is that I don’t always “put my money where my mouth is”.
It all came about like this: I needed a new pair of jeans, and after doing some research (and being heavily influenced by their recent ad campaign), I decided that I needed Madewell jeans. After buying them, my brother-in-law and I started talking about how paying the extra $50-$80 was totally worth it because Madewell probably made better quality clothing, treated its workers better, and possibly didn’t make their clothes in a sweatshop.
And then it dawned on me.
I am so misinformed. I have no idea what I’m talking about. Price difference does not equal quality or ethics in production. It simply means that I’m paying for exclusivity. Just look at Anthropologie. Their clothes are a just grown up, more expensive version of Urban Outfitters’.
It brought to my attention how little I know about a subject I supposedly really care about. For example, did you know that we only spend 3% of our annual income on clothes compared to 15% post WW2?* We’re spending less yet buying and throwing away more (because it either goes out of fashion or only lasts three washes).
My shopping habits may have changed due to the limited shopping options in Bend, but I’m still shopping quantity and not quality. I don’t do enough research about how things are made or where they were made. We all know about the the collapse of the factory in Bangladesh where over a thousand people died, but we (or rather I) choose to ignore it, brushing it under the carpet so that I can continue shopping guiltless at H&M, Primark and GAP.
So what to do? My answer? Research. That’s my goal for this year, if there’s something I care about, I need to do my research, and take action. Follow through with what I say I stand for.
I’m going to begin by choosing quality over quantity, even if it means spending a little more. Buy more clothes that will stand the test of fashion trends rather than buying the $7 pleather skirt on sale, that quite honestly I’m not sure I’ll wear again. Look for companies that are truly making a difference in this area, or at least making an effort to.
I’m not sure how that’ll make a difference, and perhaps I’m being naive by thinking that it could make a difference. But maybe if I choose to support companies that support a healthy and sustainable production process, maybe those companies will grow enough to act as an example for others? Just maybe.
We’re all making New Year’s resolutions right now, and I’m making these mine: To put my money where my mouth is, to research and know what I stand for. To make things and change happen and build for the future, not just for now.
What are your new year’s resolutions? And what are your favourite ethical companies to shop at?
*OVERDRESSED: THE SHOCKINGLY HIGH COST OF CHEAP FASHION by Elizabeth Cline