Tuesday, 24 April 2018

5 Easy Ways to Support Fair Fashion

When people hear the term "ethical/fair fashion," I can see their eyes glazing over with the thought that it is an unnecessarily expensive genre of the fashion industry. I know, for a fact, that there are plenty of well-meaning, curious and intrigued people who would love to change the way they shop for clothes, but have been stopped by this stereotype of the niche—that is slowly growing to become the norm. While a lot of ethical fashion brands can be expensive—for good reason—there are various ways in which you can contribute to the cause without breaking the bank. As a tight-budgeted working class citizen myself, who also wants to advocate for ethical fashion, I've found several ways to do so. Here are at least five ways you can start with.

Buy Local

Or what I'd like to call "the lesser of two evils." While it is hard to trace where and how the materials for their products are harvested, local brands—that are, of course, also locally made—already contribute to fair fashion by eliminating sweatshops from their chain of manufacture. From a social standpoint, they also provide job opportunities to the middle-to-lower class citizens. It is even better if they cultivate local cultures, using traditional methods and styles in their products without butchering them into mainstream patterns or textures, devoid of its history and cultural meanings. It would have been, obviously, perfect if they happen to be environmentally conscious too, but, if these are out of our price range, it's okay to settle, for now, with at least the sweatshop-free ones. For Indonesians, here are some you might want to check out.

Find Out

Knowledge is power. The only way we can fight a problem is by researching more about it and really knowing what needs to change or how to solve it. What is even fast fashion? How can we move against it if we don't even know what it is or who support it or how they work? If you're a complete newbie, start somewhere you know. You can begin by finding out about your favourite clothing brands: where their materials come from, their manufacturing process, whether they have commitment to create a better future. This can be as simple as visiting their website and reading their "About" page, but sometimes it needs an enquiring email to acquire. If you've known a thing or two, always keep your knowledge updated, because the industry is turning and some brands may move towards a more positive future. You can always go to fashionrevolution.org and peruse their downloadable documents.

Choose Well

Although the manufacturing process may be a source of ecological damage and human rights violations, it is only half of the battle. How we see and purchase clothes also matter. There is no point in turning to ethical/fair fashion, if we see them as an ephemeral item, ready to throw them away after one wash, then the waste will only accumulate. Which is why it is very important for us to not only look at what we buy, but also how we buy them. If we see an item in a store that we simply must buy, we need to ask ourselves three questions: Will I wear this? How many times will I wear this? Do I want this because of me or because of trends/influence from others? If it seems like you won't keep them for long, maybe it's better to put it back on the rack. Quality also matters, of course. It would be better to buy a $50 pair of boots that would stand the test of time than a $15 plastic leather ones that would fall apart within the year, don't you think?

Do It Yo'self

Another way to cut the chain altogether is to not even be a part of it. Instead of going to store—online or otherwise—and getting an item you take fancy, you pick out your own materials, create your own patterns and put together a piece of clothing yourself. For the materials, there are a lot of secondhand stores that provide vintage fabrics for your perusal, which would obviously be better than buying new from IKEA. Otherwise, if you want to take it a step further—and really customise it—you can also print your own pattern on organic fabric. This way you can control the waste you produce from the process, the silhouette and cut that you may have never found elsewhere and, most importantly, you don't have to feel bad about all the labourers who might otherwise have made the item you purchase. Plus, there is a good chance you won't find anyone else wearing the same thing.

Make It Last

Back to the whole waste thing, the best way to contribute to fair fashion is actually to wear the hell out of what you already own. There is no point to do all of the above, if you're still stuck with the wear-and-toss mentality. The problem with fast fashion lies not only with the manufacturer, but also with us, the consumer. If there is no demand, there will be no supply. The best way to break the chain is not start it altogether. Instead of making it a priority to own everything that's on trend at the moment, set it as your goal to keep wearing your clothes for as many years as possible. Take pride in owning clothes that has been in the family for generations. Feel fulfilled by knowing that you love what you have and you'd like to keep it that way. There are so many ways to learn to fall in love with your clothes all over again—one of which is DIY. Here are some ideas you can transform your clothes into something entirely new, just in case.

I hope this has inspired you to start thinking about how you purchase and treat your clothes.

Let me know if you have other tips on this topic!

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