Who made my clothes?
You've probably seen this question floating around social media for Fashion Revolution Week in memory of the five year anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh. This week educates consumers on the perils of fast fashion. Particularly how it endangers lives, destroys the environment, and perpetuates a cycle for western consumers to buy more, more, more.
Despite my efforts to purchase ethically made garments, I personally still have a lot of clothing that I have no idea who made. The tag that you find itching the back of my neck on my favorite Old Navy sweater gives me all the information I'll ever know about who made it. The writing on a tiny, insignificant tag states simple three words: "Made in China" -- three words we American consumers are all too familiar with. But, where in China was it made? Who sourced the fabric, buttons, and thread? Was the person who made this sweater paid a fair wage?
I can talk for days about why this matters, but that is not going to be today's post. The post today aims to get you thinking about some of those hard questions. Questions not just reserved for fashion, but can be applied to other aspects of consumerism (like do you really need a pretty new pour over coffee maker when the one you already have works perfectly fine?). We don't buy things when we want them...we buy new things when other options fail. To shop with an ethical mindset, we're learning how to be resourceful. We use what we have, then borrow, swap, thrift, and make before resorting to buying. And when we do buy things, we buy better.
Am I perfect at this? Gonna answer that one with a big fat NOPE. I love buying pretty new things. But the more I learn from my mistakes and dust myself off from impulsive buying pitfalls, the better I am at curbing my consuming in the future. That is why, when I do buy a new piece of clothing, I like to buy garments that have a face behind the label. When my hand sewn dress has a rip or button missing, I can communicate with the designer to take the steps needed to repair it. I've found that if the investment pieces bought from sustainable designers are worth buying, then they are worth repairing. Thus, reducing more consuming.
Today is a very exciting day because I'll be highlighting a remarkable ethical designer who is just as passionate about these questions as I am! Emily DeLong from Margu Design sews classic garments with a playful twist in her tiny Arkansas studio. Everything from the fabrics she uses to the buttons and trim are sustainably sourced and designed, cut, and sewn by her.
I am wearing the Swan Dress in Ornithes Voile -- a fabric inspired by a turn-of-the-century French pattern that Emily designed herself. Isn't that amazing? It is the perfect spring and summer dress, especially if you're attending a summer wedding, or need something special for church on Sunday. I can't even sew a button, so the fact that she MADE and DESIGNED this beautiful dress leaves me speechless. It is breathtaking -- from the feminine flutter sleeves, to the mother-of-pearl buttons -- the dress exudes lady-like charm. I find it refreshing to see a woman, so young and talented, running her own business and sewing garments stitch-by-stitch in her own hand. Her mission reminds me of the years before department stores where our grandparents and great-grandparents would spend their money carefully constructing the few dresses they owned.
Margu Design has been added to the LFW Ethical Fashion Directory, which you can find HERE. I encourage you to follow her on instagram and visit her website because you will not want to miss out on her beautifully crafted collections. And stay tuned for the giveaway on Friday where you can win a thoughtfully sewed article of clothing from Emily herself!