Like many of you, I’m a person who thinks about what the right thing to do is. And of course, like many of you, I often know what the right thing is, but I don’t do it. There are all of the “shoulds” in life and then there are the things you choose to do. This means there are also the times you inadvertently contribute to the harm you are trying to address.
This is a long story about me, made short. I’m a style/fashion blogger: that adored—or just as often reviled, misunderstood, or completely ignored—creature of the Internet. I became a fashion blogger after a particularly burnout-inducing social work job; after many years, I decided I wanted to do something diametrically opposed to social work. I knew there would be detractors, but I didn’t (and don’t) care.
I blog about apparel, the fancy name for clothes. And because I do, I really kind of have to purchase clothes in order to show and tell about them. I have a very limited budget, but I do have a budget and I’m using it. While I’ve had some designers send me their pieces for review, it hasn’t yet reached a point where even my small, New York City apartment closet is bursting at the seams. Still, I’m finding myself in an awkward position; I’m doing one of the very things I advise others not to do. I’m spending money on things I don’t actually need.
I like the stuff I buy because I buy the stuff I like and believe in. I support the slow fashion designers I meet and “find” — the slow fashion avant garde. That’s all a part of my personal taste and values and that’s a good thing, but I have a dirty little secret, too: I like it, I like the shopping! And there’s the rub isn’t it? Many of us do.
My watchword has always been “quality not quantity.” I believe in the capsule wardrobe. I’m repulsed by the rags that fast fashion produces and passes off as clothing. But even though my shopping is considered and my purchases mostly ethical, in line with the slow fashion esthetic and in support of those with the same values, I’m likely contributing more to the landfill than I ideally want.
So am I a hypocrite, a slow fashion Leonardo DiCaprio? Is Leo being hypocritical when he drives his eco-friendly electric car to the airport only to jet off in a carbon-spewing nightmare machine? I’m glad Leonardo chooses to drive a Prius rather than an Explorer, and something tells me that other than his red carpet wardrobe, Leo’s fashion needs are satisfied by a couple of baggy shorts and a scraggly t-shirt or two.
The point is that relative to the developing world (where most of our clothes are being made), we’re all Leonardos, and like him we all have to make choices. Choices must be made by those who can actually choose in the name of those who can’t.
Right here in the Trusted Clothes blog there are lots of great articles that can help you choose ways in which to purchase clothes sustainably. While the intricacies of slow versus fast fashion are highly complex and often difficult to understand, the ways in which you can exercise your choices in support of slow fashion and sustainability are not.
For the time being, I’m at peace with my choices, knowing that with continuing climate change, political unrest, and the violation of human rights my choices may change, or perhaps, run out entirely.
P.S. Leo, call me.
About the Author
Anita Irlen is the woman behind lookforthewoman.com, a blog for women of style and substance, who want to age differently. She lives in New York City with her husband and is often seen stalking the streets of Manhattan looking for beauty in any form. She tries to balance her love of fine things with a commitment to social good. Anita is an advocate of slow fashion and quality over quantity in all things.