When Cheap Clothing Is Not A Good Thing

Fashion

0e6b6cd1adf4f3319703487e1ffd9c26There are times where cheap clothing is not a good thing. I was watching a video by Kristen Leo (which I’ve linked below) that motivated me to write this article. It’s very easy for some big brands to say they are socially responsible, when as Kristen says there’s no sustainable way for fast fashion to be done ethically. I really have to agree, as they are the industry that thrives off producing masses of clothing for consumption. As a result, it requires people who can make these clothings, at extreme low pay, in order for the brands to earn more. Many fast fashion companies, tend to be very ambiguous and unclear in the production of their clothing, and there is a clear lack of transparency.

I love fashion, however one of my issues with the industry, is the idea of consumption. This idea that we’re constantly needing more, and when it’s shallow in terms of enjoying what something looks like, but not going deeper to understand what our money is supporting. This goes for many things in life, in which we can turn a blind eye, because it doesn’t always directly affect us. However, fashion has a huge influence on the world, for the environment and so on. I think it’s encouraging to see more and more people recycling, rewearing and thrifting for clothes. As well as labels that truly have ethical actions, transparency and a genuine care for the environment and working space.

Buying cheap clothes, can actually be quite expensive. I think of the hundreds of dollars of money I’ve spent on clothing over the years of fast fashion, especially in my teens. These pieces of clothing are no longer in my wardrobe, and I now have a wardrobe of mostly second hand clothing that I’ve worn for years. However, I am more able to buy clothing that are good quality, and sometimes not super cheap, but I know I will wear for a long time. In a consumer society, we are told that a sale means we’ll save, save, save. But, truly it is actually making us spend, spend, spend. I think the fashion industry has many dirty secrets behind many companies, because we don’t always know if the clothing we’re wearing were created through child labour etc.

Most people shop according to how much something costs, and this is natural. I think of when I’m at the supermarket, and whether I buy a $3.5 cereal box or a $8 one. When it comes to clothing, I think of areas that aren’t very clear, because there are t-shirts that could be $18, and in another brand it could be $80. The clothing could be similar fabric, style and there can be confusion at how the prices is created. Op-shop’s, thrift/vintage stores and second hand shops reflect how we often wear something to throw it away. There are numerous clothing that are donated to these stores. Whereas we should buy something as an investment, through quality and value.

It’s very common that Youtube and Instagram, and other social media platforms encourage buying cheap clothes, fast fashion and consumption. Our insecurities lies in the need to have more, in order to fit in. But, to be able to wear something again and again, and embrace your personal style is important. If you see something you love, and know you’re going to wear it a lot, then it’s worth buying it. When I think of the dark side of the fashion industry, I think of landfills, chemicals, waste, profit, poor working environments and so on.

What are your thoughts on fast fashion and cheap clothing?

The Way We Dress Affects How People Treat Us

Fashion

Dressing well is a form of self care. I talked to a friend of mine, and we had a really interesting conversation about how we present ourselves, how people treat us when we dress well and she told me how she believes that dressing well is a form of self care. The words really stuck with me, because they ring so much truth. She was telling me about her experience, in which when she entered a clothing store, she was wearing jeans and a top. During that day, the retail assistant didn’t acknowledge her. The next day, she was wearing a stylish outfit that was very much in her style, and the retail assistant paid attention and approached her to ask if she needed help.

I know this can sound terribly shallow, because shouldn’t someone regardless of the way they look be treated the same? Absolutely, I think we should always treat others fairly. However, it’s also common that we will assume what someone might be like, based on what they wear. As this is most often the first impression. There is a psychology behind the way we dress from the colours we wear. As I watched the video here, it does have a point. I do believe that to an extent, the way we dress and present ourselves will affect how others treat us. Clothes are a form of self expression that speaks for itself.

As I previously mentioned, I do feel that we shouldn’t judge someone for the way they dress. However, I also do feel that the way you dress is also an expression for how you feel about yourself. This means, if a person wears jandals, sweats and a jersey all the time, they might not be taken quite as seriously as a person wearing a tailored dress and flats. When we are presented as clean and tidy, we are more likely to be treated with respect, because it shows self care to oneself. Although, when I watched The Pursuit of happyness a few years ago, there is a scene here that shows that ones true character, attitude and ability is through who they are, not their clothes.

It’s good to look at both sides to gain perspective, because on one hand what we wear is important in presenting ourselves. On the other hand, we should be judged by our character and abilities, and not the way we look. We have power in choosing how to present ourselves to the world, through this silent language of fashion. The Huffington Post article says “Your style and the clothes you choose reflect and affect your mood, health, and overall confidence.” I think fashion can be empowering, when we fully embrace our personal style. It creates a natural confidence in knowing who we are.

This is why I don’t tend to wear bright colours or patterned and printed clothing, as most of them don’t tend to reflect my personality or how I feel about myself. I feel most myself when I wear black, navy, grey, brown, dark colours or denim. Black clothing takes up 90% of my wardrobe, because I feel that I suit it the most. It makes me feel clean cut, stylish and effortless. The colour psychology in what we wear can really make a difference in how we feel about ourselves, and how others will feel. I find wearing dark colours makes me feel organised, chic and well groomed.

I remember talking to a coworker, and he said he literally judges books by its cover, and I said to be honest, so do I. I may be more attracted to covers that have an artwork that I like, the colours that they use or a photograph that really speaks to me. We were talking about book covers, but it made me think about how what we wear is similar to the way we look at book covers. We may judge in that split second, what the content may be, in terms of what someone might be like. First impressions are important when it comes to how we dress, and after that it’s really getting to know someone for who they are.

Think of when you went on your first date, your first interview and your first dance. You probably made effort in grooming yourself a certain way, to present yourself for the occasion. In the video above, it talks about how dressing well is not only a sign of respect for yourself, but also for those around you. I do agree, and I also truly believe that dressing well can affect our emotional well being. I remember when I was freelancing, I would still get dressed in the morning as if I was going to an office. It made my mindset more focused on working, rather than staying in my pajamas.

Art by Renée Gouin

Ethical Fashion And The Rise Of Consumer Culture

Fashion

ROH7304.jpgClothes are one of the largest polluters in the world. There is so much we don’t see from the clothes we wear, from the source of the fabric, where the cotton was grown, how much water was used to bring the piece of clothing to life, what environment the worker who sewed the piece of clothing worked in, how much they are paid and many other aspects that are often clouded by heavy advertising that shows the clothing in an attractive manner to grasp our attention. We are all filled with stories, and everything we come across has a story to tell. The smallest pebble may have crossed an ocean, and yet it’s easy to see something and only see the surface of it.

I met a lovely person yesterday with such a passion for ethical fashion, it was truly inspiring and motivating. If you have Netflix then I highly recommend watching the documentaries: The True Cost and Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. A consumer culture is an ideology that tells us that we should acquire more things in order to build a sense of satisfaction within our lives. It encourages spending culture, building a desire for a lifestyle and convinces you that it is a source of happiness. It is a fact that the experiences we have outweigh the materials we own, and that building memories and relationships are far more valuable and will give true happiness that can sustain a lifetime.

What we consume should also reflect the value of long lasting wear and use. The power of advertising and marketing, is that it convinces the consumer that purchasing a particular good will change your life in a certain way. They persuade you that certain products can give your life more meaning or interest. In this interesting conversation I recently had with the person, we talked about how in the documentary there is a scene where there are massive sales in an American store. There are hundreds of shoppers rushing and running around the store, grabbing as fast as they can and even some fighting and pulling for something they have seen first.

The problem with the fashion industry is that many large companies mindset is to earn a huge amount of profit. There are those who are passionate about design, sourcing eco-friendly fabric and will only allow their clothes to be made in a production and manufacturing company that pays its workers a living wage in a safe environment. However, the over saturation of the industry is filled with actions that are corrupted. In an article here, it says The tragically poor and exploited lives of Chinese chip makers and Indian and Bangladeshi seamstresses are gaining worldwide visibility. Recent news concerning the unsafe living and working conditions of great masses of people is likely merely the tip of the exploitation iceberg.

I watched a film last night called The Shape of Water, (spoilers ahead) which delved with an array of themes. The film features an ocean creature, who is viewed as a monster by some of the characters within the film. However, there is a character who really is the monster, who takes advantage of his power and creates fear. He is an example of a capitalist consumer, such as when he is in a Cadillac store, the car salesman tells him that the teal car is driven by 4/5 most successful men in America (or something a long those lines). In the next scene, we see him drive off in one. It’s a clear example of how there is a certain value placed around materials, and how it shows and communicates one’s status, lifestyle and position in society.

Fashion is often viewed as superficial, but we all need clothing to wear, and the reality is that it is a form of comfort and communication. I don’t think Fashion is superficial, but really only certain people who make it superficial. It is those who believe that materials can show that they are better than someone else, that is one of the worst yet most common aspects of consumption. The truly superficial are those who produce clothes without any care for those making it, or the environment. These people in power have a lot of power to make great change, yet many companies only care about earning money. They will create a beautiful image from the advertising of the goods, but behind the scenes may be a sad reality.

It’s important to remind oneself of what are the truly important things in your life. The relationships you have are ultimately the biggest, as well as striving to do our best for the Earth. The character shows that many of us have an inkling of what we should do, but may not do it. An example, is when other’s decide not to recycle, those who litter, don’t try to understand the system or don’t care about the environment. It takes time, but it’s a matter of educating, spreading the message and raising awareness. It’s also a matter of turning it into action in your own life, and making the decision to consume less and support brands that have good ethics, transparent production and honest values.

What are your thoughts on consumer culture? How do you think we can make improvements in the fashion industry?

Art by Monica Rohan

You Don’t Need To Wear Makeup To Feel Beautiful

Fashion

413509047a75a934a36ca6a54a8b40ea.jpgThere are many articles online that have titles a long the lines of “How to look good without makeup” and that makes me feel all kinds of discomfort of what messages are being communicated to women and young girls growing up. This might seem hypocritical as I love makeup, skincare and fashion. However, the message of what I really want to express is that beautiful is ultimately a feeling. Aren’t we beautiful as we are? When did society become so superficial and judgmental of every detail of a person, even if their face has makeup on or not?  We become obsessed with the surface level of what is beautiful that we lose the true meaning of beauty.

We need to let people know that they are beautiful as they are. If you have a daughter in the future, you wouldn’t want to tell her that you only feel beautiful when you put on your makeup. We want them to embrace themselves wholeheartedly without feeding off what images are saying. It’s okay to put on makeup and allow it to enhance your natural beauty or allow it to emphasise your character just as ones personal style may. It’s not okay to make it a rule or seem like a fact that women can only feel beautiful if they wear makeup. I mean isn’t it sad to see things that tell us this celebrity looks surprisingly good without makeup or this person is brave for wearing no makeup. It’s absolutely wrong. We are all born naked into this world after all.

Feeling beautiful could be by: doing an act of kindness without expecting anything in return, giving someone a genuine smile, lifting someone up when they feel down, laughing about anything and nothing, embracing the skin we are born in, using your mind to create something wonderful, not judging others but trying to understand, listening to your favourite song, doing something creative (dancing, drawing, singing, playing music..), the beautiful quiet and unseen acts of people, generosity and positivity, unconditional self love or taking in the colourful nature around us. What ultimately makes me feel beautiful is the ability to be completely myself with someone. The feeling of comfort and confidence to be loose and silly. It’s the moments of smiling, talking and laughing with the ones I love.

Sure, we will have days where makeup does make us feel a bit more pretty, because we aren’t feeling beautiful. However, beauty should not be defined by makeup. On your physical elements, focus on what you love, whether it’s your smile, the colour of your eyes or your hair. Let’s remember to put emphasis on the wonderfully beautiful things that don’t only look on the surface too but look more deeply within. You are most beautiful when you spread the light inside of you. There’s that special spark within every person that makes them uniquely them. You know when you just meet someone, and they become more and more beautiful, or perhaps less so. The personality starts to outshine the first impression.

What makes you feel beautiful?