The final week of this challenge to my wardrobe has me digging into more than my closet, I’ve been delving deep into my brain as well. Constantly rearranging my usual looks and mending clothes I managed to somehow overlook, I’m beginning to feel better about my wardrobe. I’ve had fun putting new outfits together instead of the usual sweater and jeans, and scarves that took up room on hangers are now finding their way draped around my neck. Looking through online shops, local used clothing stores, and making lists of necessary clothing, I feel improved and focus. Filtering through my clothes, it would seem all is well, but a few questions linger unanswered, like a pair of worn tennis shoes that sit in the corner of my closet, waiting for their fate to be determined. Do I toss them out and wonder if they take up room in a landfill? Do I ignore them, letting them collect more dust? Giving them to a second-hand store may not be a good option either, for they may just be carelessly tossed into the trash if not deemed sellable. Rather than allow my lingering questions about Sustainable Fashion endure the same fate, I face them head on.
Although I’ve found various Sustainable Fashion brands online, I still wonder does the industry market itself effectively? Many times I feel the industry doesn’t always clearly define itself and the word “Sustainable” can mean so many different things. But no matter how much I try to explain that it includes eco-friendly, ethical wages and treatment of employees, preservation of traditional handicrafts, and vintage, people don’t always understand. Is it necessarily beneficial for Sustainable Fashion to separate itself from the regular Fashion Industry? After reading a recent post from Independent Fashion Bloggers, I started to see where the industry may fall short. Orsola de Castro argues that calling the industry “Sustainable Fashion” hinders the movement and that the goals of this industry should just be simply called those of “Fashion” and everything outside of it should be “Fast Fashion” or “Unsustainable” and not values of the Fashion industry. Although I originally thought this was an article not in support of Sustainable Fashion, I came to realize that in order for this movement to thrive, it has to integrate itself with the mainstream market. In an article published in the Guardian by Helpsy founder, Rachel Kibbe, she indicates that Sustainable Fashion companies need to pay attention to trends to attract attention and avoid being seen as “Over-Priced” and “Ugly.” In an additional article for the Guardian, Kibbe also sites that companies need to partner with major fashion brands on collaborations to tap into the popular brands’ consumers. From here the public can learn more about the importance of these brands and begin thinking more about where their clothing comes from. Thinking back to my time with Run by Rural, many brainstorming activities and meetings revolved around looking at current trends in colors and styles to attract certain buyers, but never losing site of the artisans and their involvement in the process. It seems the strongest step Sustainable Fashion companies can take is to become more intertwined with mainstream Fashion to change production standards and ways of consuming and eventually transform the current industry instead of trying to fight against it. Integration is the key to this radical transformation.
Is there more I can do beyond transforming my closet? Looking through the companies and organizations I’ve found online or interacted with on Social Media, I begin to realize I haven’t been able to interact with them in person. Can I use my travels for more than visiting beautiful scenery or famous landmarks? Absolutely. I resolve that within my travels, I’ll find a company who is located in the destinations I travel to and contact them to learn more about and feature their company’s procedures and products. I’ll always continue to use travel to discover cultural clothing and heritage and reflect on my explorations, but this will take everything one step further. Looking through daily outfit posts on other fashion blogging websites, I have found further opportunities. It’s time to use my wardrobe and knowledge of Sustainable Fashion to create a weekly outfit post that fits my interests including work backstage, a day at the latest museum exhibit, or my next travel adventure. Why not shake up the Fashion industry by taking the popular outfit posts used by other bloggers to promote clothes I’ve mended, re-purposed, altered and/or purchased locally, at second-hand stores, or from Sustainable Fashion Companies? I already do this with posts featuring style inspiration sets, I can do the same with an actual outfit post.
But what about the fate of my shoes? Don’t worry, they haven’t been left unattended and neglected. I consult one of my reliable friends, Google, to search for options to recycle and reuse shoes. Various options come up, including charities and organizations to donate old shoes to. Scrolling down the page, I see another alternative. Nike’s program, Reuse-A-Shoe, has a recycling alternative involving grinding down athletic shoes to create surfaces including floors and athletic fields. I’m entertained and excited about this possible opportunity to have a major athletic fashion brand re-purpose what I might have thrown out. I’ve answered my questions on Sustainable Fashion, now I know where can take my shoes.