It's been a couple weeks since I sat at my table, sun creeping through the windows that are desperate for a good vinegar scrub. Life has been chaotic and emotional lately. It's easy to avoid spaces that ground me when I'm feeling overwhelmed. Case and point, my lack of blogging.
Most of you know that I've been working for an anti-human trafficking organization for a while now. I primarily do volunteer coordinating, communications, and a little event planning sprinkled in there. I love it. My heart beats for freedom. This organization fits me really well.
Although I've been working for She Has A Name for only a handful of months, I've been pursuing slow fashion for well over a year. I used to share more about my wardrobe and my quest to make ethical and sustainable choices in my clothing, but somewhere in my journey, I stopped sharing. I stopped talking about something I feel incredibly strongly about.
I stopped talking so much about my heart for freedom after several people said to me over the year: "But what is purchasing one [fast fashion sourced] shirt really going to do in the grand scheme of things?"
First things first, let's define fast fashion. "The term “fast fashion” refers to a phenomenon in the fashion industry whereby production processes are expedited in order to get new trends to the market as quickly and cheaply as possible" (investopedia).
Instead of answering my friends' question, I shrunk back in insecurity. While I pursued the slow fashion lifestyle I decided I didn't want to seem pretentious so I didn't challenge their question.
Yesterday, my coworkers and I went to the Freedom Center in Cincinnati where we heard story after story of slavery, brokenness, darkness, and pain. Our nation's history is pretty dark.
One exhibit struck me significantly: "Women in Emancipation." Elizabeth Margaret Chandler, Lucretia Mott, Abby Kelley, just to name a few women who fought for the rights of all people despite the shame that followed them. I wonder if they were ever asked a similar question, especially since any race other than white was considered invaluable. Honestly, people seemed to have as much value as a cheap tee at this point in our history. "Why does it matter if you don't employ slaves? It's only one slave. Why does it matter? Someone else will just use them instead.
I know this is speaking directly of a human being, but think about it. What if they cowered and stopped sharing the importance and value in all people. What if they didn't challenge their opposition? What if they didn't speak up because they didn't want to seem pretentious?
So why does it matter if you purchase one shirt likely crafted in a sweat shop?
Practically speaking, it probably doesn't matter. That one shirt was created under slave-like conditions whether you purchase it or not. But why does it matter if you purchase it? Because we all need a heart-check. We all need pulled out of our tendency to focus on ourselves and what makes us most comfortable. We feel good when we purchase a $10 tee not thinking about the person who was vastly underpaid so that you could get a good deal.
We are so concerned with getting and having and possessing that we don't stop to think about the men, women, and children who suffered so that you can have your cheapo tee that you'll have to replace in 6 months with another cheapo tee and thus the cycle continues.
How can you start pursuing slow fashion? Baby steps. I haven't done it perfectly this year. In fact, I'm currently in a dilemma because I reeeeally need new running shoes for my upcoming 1/2 marathon, but I'm having a tough time finding anything ethically sourced.
You can start by educating yourself. Watch the Netflix documentary The True Cost. Start researching your favorite brands. Find out where your clothes are made. Ask questions. Speak up.
You can play a role in the abolition community by not continuing the cycle of slavery in your closet. Next week I'll do a post on my favorite ethical fashion brands and how I do most of my shopping.
In the meantime, ask me questions! I'd love to know what holds you back from pursuing slow fashion.