I remember a time not long ago that I dreamed of having a closet full of beautiful clothes, shoes, and accessories. Fashion was my escape, an alternate reality where I imagined myself transforming into different characters with the swap of an outfit.
I like to compare fashion to smoking. It's a bad habit you can never seem to kick, and every time you reach for another high, that shot of dopamine lights up again reminding you of how fucking good it feels.
I'll admit I was once a victim to the fast-fashion industry. I regretfully helped contribute to the very brands I refuse to support today. Brands that lack corporate social responsibility and respect for human rights. Even with the endless accounts leaked on the internet today revealing the unethical and unsustainable practices behind the fast-fashion industry, it's still worth over $2.4 trillion dollars. "But hey, that dress is really cute and it's only $12.99, and have you seen these earrings for $5.00?!"
Don't get me wrong, I see the appeal. I lived there for many years. But I've learned to silence that voice and replace it with a much louder one.
Earlier this week, I decided to pull everything out of my closet and take a harsh look at how much I've accumulated. As many of you can probably relate, I literally do not wear half of what I own. With the exception of my yoga pants, denim jeans, and basic tees, I maybe see 30% of the remainder on a night out or special occasion. The rest is a combination of one-offs I'll probably never wear again, vintage pieces I've never worn or bought just because, and silhouettes that no longer suit me but I can't seem to let go of.
I told myself I am forbidden from ever saying "I have nothing to wear" ever again. I've become a lot smarter about what and with whom I buy. As much as I'd love to stock my closet with the latest sustainable fashion brands like Reformation who are adopting circular strategies, I'm not trying to break the bank either. With that said, I've learned to live with less and to shop more responsibly. I love supporting brands like Everlane who from the beginning set out to build a company that put people first while making quality products that are affordable and ethically-produced. I've also always loved shopping second-hand at stores like Savers, where I've scored some of my favorite winter coats for less than $20. I'll admit I'm not perfect nor am I attempting to measure my impact to compare to anyone else.
More than anything, I hope you can find solace in my journey because I didn't always have the insight that I know now.
Change always starts from somewhere. I wasn't raised with environmentalist parents nor did I learn about sustainability in fashion school. I learned what I know from my own research and curiosity after working in the industry long enough to feel something wasn't adding up.
I know it can feel overwhelming with ambiguous terms like "ethical, natural, and handmade" floating around and not being able to decipher what they all really mean. For example, if a U.S. based designer makes clothing, but purchases fabric made in China, is it fair to say their designs are ethical or environmentally conscious if they cannot provide transparency for the working conditions of the people in the factory?
IMO, we need to tread lightly with these labels so we aren't misleading people or claiming to be something we aren't. Even if you have the best of intentions, we need to hold ourselves accountable for the accuracy of the information we are sharing.
Until there is a better system in place that creates more transparency about businesses and their values, we have to take matters into our own hands. You have every right to ask questions about what you're buying, and to ask yourself if the answers make you feel more invested in the company you're supporting.
-Jackelyn Dacanay, founder of THE ART OF FATE
Thank you for reading! I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments. You can also reach me through email at: firstname.lastname@example.org