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Sunday, 29 January 2017

Ethical Is My New Black

I posted on Instagram last week that I would be shifting the direction of this blog, along with that of my Instagram feed.  If you follow along here or on Instagram, you will know just how much black I wear!  Black feels 'right' to me. I have worn mostly black for years, I am committed to it, it's not a passing fad, I feel it's one element in communicating who I am as a person.  So I hope that when I use this catch phrase, that 'ethical is my new black', that I don't come across as flippant or simply trying to be cool or jumping on a band wagon that I will jump off tomorrow.   This doesn't just feel right, this is a right choice for me.

The journey to this point has actually been long, challenging and intentional, however it has been over the past 12 months that I have been unable to ignore a growing conviction in relation to the human rights of the garment workers making my clothing.  

Of course, there are many issues and concerns associated with the manufacturing our clothing and it's quite overwhelming to try to address them all at once, so one step at time and my first step has been to buy either Australian made or ethically made off shore.  

Like many people, I have been well aware of the issues for many years, but to be honest, felt it was all too complicated to consider.  My internal conversation was about how difficult it was  going to be to find out about the ethical stance of different labels, and could I even afford to by ethically made clothing.  

Last April, I saved the Ethical Fashion Guide to my iBooks and started to check the ratings given to various labels as I considered my purchases. I read up on how the ratings are decided and read through the the 2016 Australian Fashion Report. (I also read some books and watched the documentary "The True Cost" - but we talk about that in another post)  I also started doing some casual work for an Australian made label and discovered that Australian made can be affordable and, if that's the case with one label, then there is likely to be others out there too.

Through my blogging work, I started to come into contact with other labels producing stunning designs who were either designing and making their clothing here in Australia, or designing here and partnering closely with offshore businesses, building relationships to ensure that all workers are paid properly, provided with safe work environments and treated with dignity and respect.

In some cases, the pricing of of these garments is the same as other labels that don't produce their garments here and sadly receive a poor rating on the Ethical Fashion Guide.   Others are more expensive, however between knowing that my clothes are ethically produced and that the quality of these garments is far superior to much of what is being mass produced, I find myself moving to that place of being happier with less but better.  

Now I won't be throwing out everything in my wardrobe that isn't Australian/ethically made, but as those items wear out, or no longer get worn, they will be donated and replaced with items that are.   I won't promise that I will always buy ethical clothing, but I will always carefully consider my options.  For example I recently purchased a night dress, made offshore and I don't know the ethical stance of the label.  My sleep wear is in a sorry state, I had a trip to hospital and had a limited budget, so I made a call.  I have since discovered a couple of suitable sleep wear labels and will follow up further when I next need new sleep wear.

I am not big on numbers, or keeping a count of the contents of my wardrobe, but I did do a little review before writing this post, and was pleased to see that approx 50% of my wardrobe now meets my 'ethically produced' criteria.  

The other side of this is the desire to not encourage the growing cycle of continued purchasing and purging, often forgetting what we actually bought the previous week, and discarding items, without thought, for the latest and newest designs.  So as a style blogger, who loves clothes and sharing my finds with you, how do I do that?  Well you may be surprised that over the past 6 years my wardrobe has in fact been shrinking.  My wardrobe is very cohesive, neutral in tones and most of it works together which means there are almost endless opportunities to create new combinations.

I tend to stay away from super 'trendy' looks, preferring modern, timeless (to a point) pieces that work across seasons, can be layered and have longevity.  This means that you will actually see a lot of items repeated and remixed.  Of course I will have new items to share but you won't see me buying new clothing every week and it's unlikely that you would only see an item once on the blog or Instagram.  I will also start to intentionally highlight labels and brands producing ethical clothing that may be of interest to you.

Over the next weeks, I will also add a page here which will be updated regularly with ethical fashion labels / brands for your info.  If you know of any, feel free to pop their details in the comments section and I will follow up.

Finally, you have my word that I won't get all preachy on you!  And, there will be no label shaming. This is a very personal journey that also encompasses the concept of more simple living and a more minimalist approach to life.

I know this is a rather long post.  If you have made it all the way through... thank you!  I would love to hear your thoughts, experience, desires in relation to this topic.

xxx Deborah

8 comments:

  1. I really enjoy your blog and style and look forward to the new direction both are taking!

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    1. Thanks so much Emmy. Slowly but surely I am formulating the way head.

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  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Deb, I too have felt overwhelmed with where to start with an ethical stance, so I'm looking forward to seeing your list and sharing your journey. My journey with 'consumption' started with consciously looking at what I eat and how we as a society have been bamboozled by wrong info and big $$$, and feel that clothing is the next area to consider, it's been a natural flow on to question what I believe about it. I have decided on a 12 month ban on new clothes, to see what shows up in it's absence...not so easy, but doing it none the less!

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    1. Thanks Jo, it is such a massive thing to consider and I am not sure it's possible to address everything all at once. I really admire your 12 month ban on new clothes, I am so not yet their yet! xxx

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  3. Hi Deb
    Definitely agree with everything you have written there. I discovered Motto Fashions(Australian Made) because of your blog and have quite a few lovely pieces in my wardrobe. Even though I live in NZ, I feel Australia is close enough to be called Locally made. Unfortunately alot of NZ made clothes do come at a very high price and unless you are very careful when buying they can date very easily as well. Looking forward to reading your up coming blogs.

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    1. Hi Sue, I have noticed that with New Zealand made clothing. Found some stunning lables but must a beyond my budget. I am happy to buy items made elsewhere as long as they have been produced to a standard I am comfortable with. And I agree that choosing to take an ethical stance means that clothing will have to have longevity. xxx

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  4. Hi Deb, another great post and also a topic that I have been pondering for a while. I saw the True Cost when it was released in NZ ages ago and did some investigation into the ethical stance of the brands which I had purchased from. It was surprising to find that it was often the smaller high end brands that were the least ethical and some of the larger mass labels where changing the way they did things and were now much more ethical in their production. NZ being such a smaller retail market it is a struggle to find local brands that offer a quality product for a reasonable price. Recently I have decided to return to thrift store shopping in search of some quality gems. It will be great to follow along and see what great ethical brands that you uncover.

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    1. Jenni I will be interested to follow your thrifting experiences. I have never been a huge thrifter but I have picked up some very cool things that way and it is an ethical and responsible way to shop. I am amazed at just how much arrives at Thrift stores with the tags still on??

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