Dressed In Greed

Do you buy fast fashion?  You can’t beat yourself up too much about it.  It’s the fashion industry’s responsibility to manufacture clothing in an ethical manner.  Sadly, corporations do not value lives as much as they do profit.  Stories of forced child labor, treacherous working conditions and toxic pollutants poisoning communities appear regularly.  Next time you are in the changing room, remember the message of the Potent Whisperer: their is always room to change.  Think thrift, try vintage, do some repairs.  The emperor has no clothes – just a body, mind and spirit.

Lure Of Luxe

What with all the buzz around fast fashion and the evils of consumerism, becoming sustainable-chic seems to be, according to numerous recent eco-friendly fashion guides, on the top of shoppers’ New Year’s resolutions list.

Skeins dyed naturally with madder root, hanging to dry, at Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

Recycled skeins dyed naturally with madder root, hanging to dry, at Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

Aiming to raise consumer awareness about environmental concerns linked to the fashion and textile industries, various publications promote the use of healthier natural products like eco-friendly dyed fabrics, while addressing issues such as recycling, fair trade, water wastage resulting from cotton cultivation and deforestation due to excessive cattle ranching and leather production.

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In her book, Sustainable Luxe: A Guide to Feel Good Fashion, Jordan Phillips, rebels against ‘McFashion’, or “…a mass delusion that is a democratic right for everyone to purchase cheap clothing that looks luxe”, while recommending women to buy less but of higher quality and use their spending power to support labels or retailers engaged in protecting workers in developing countries and preserving traditional crafts, thus encouraging creativity.

Phillips also makes an interesting analogy between food and fashion consumption. If consumers now increasingly avoid processed foods and scrutinize labels to ensure that the contents are free of additives, choose quality over quantity when buying meat, and willingly go to several markets or specialised stores for vegetables and bio products, for instance, they should soon enough become just as conscious for their clothes and check tags for ‘hand-made’, ‘fair trade’ and ‘eco-friendly’, while accepting to pay a reasonable price.
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Furthermore, as Elizabeth L. Cline writes in Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion: “Clothes could have more meaning and longevity if we think less about owning the latest or cheapest thing and develop more of a relationship with the things we wear. Building a wardrobe over time, saving up and investing in well-made pieces, obsessing over the perfect hem, luxuriating in fabrics, and patching and altering our clothes are old-fashioned habits. But they’re also deeply satisfying antidotes to the empty uniformity of cheapness.”

However, regular fast fashion shoppers would argue that ‘need’ was hardly part of the equation in the first place and that young consumers can’t afford to spend more on clothes anyway. Actually, budget fashion probably owes its success to the fact that for a long time mid-range, affordable clothes weren’t even close to being trendy enough and there seemed to be a gap in the market for teen fashion.
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Moreover, global brands have taken an eco-friendly stance since Greenpeace’s Fashion Detox campaign, launched in 2011, which resulted in investigations in manufacturing countries and the testing of garments by known brands to find traces of hazardous chemicals. Numerous famous labels including PUMA, H&M, Zara, M&S, Benetton, Valentino, Uniqlo, Mango and Levi’s, among many others, have committed to eliminating the use of chemicals released during their manufacturing process, while informing consumers and improving their business practices by 2020.

All in all, like many modern, recession-stricken fashion consumers, we are most likely to mix and match well-made items with more affordable ones, and reasonably invest in good wardrobe basics, vintage fashion and costume jewellery, which can be worn with more than one outfit, in an attempt to become wiser, more responsible shoppers.

Source: New Europe

Androgynous Clothing

Natalia Manzocco is the owner of Future is the Future, a gender-neutral online clothing store that stocks vintage and used items.

Natalia Manzocco, owner of Future is the Future, a gender-neutral online clothing store that stocks vintage and used items.

Natalia Manzocco is no stranger to thrift stores. The owner of an online gender-neutral clothing website spends hours sifting through racks of used garments for pieces that accentuate both a man’s muscles and a woman’s curves.

Manzocco, a 27-year-old Riverdale resident, began selling clothing and accessories meant for both sexes at Future is the Future. She’s yet to hear of anyone else in the GTA operating under the same concept, but in the U.S. and Scandinavia gender-analogous stores are starting to take off.  Manzocco’s crusade to break store gender divisions was born from her penchant for mixing menswear pieces into her wardrobe.

This white knit sweater is modelled by a woman and by a man.

This white knit sweater is modelled by a woman and by a man.

“I was thinking wouldn’t it be awesome if I could find a vintage men’s tuxedo, but shopping for vintage clothing is difficult because of the variation in how things are cut,” she says.  Instead of taking a second-hand men’s tux to a tailor or settling for a similar women’s version, she put together Future is the Future in hopes of giving others facing similar predicaments a place to shop.  Among the handful of used items she has in stock is a patterned blue-and-white Joe Fresh button-down for $15 and a bright green, vintage varsity jacket emblazoned with the name Herman for $35.

“If something really leaps out at me, I will buy it,” Manzocco says. “If I find something glittery, I will throw that in there, too, because people of all genders like sparkles.”

Mixing a denim button-down.

Mixing a denim button-down.

For each gender-neutral piece, Manzocco provides the length, chest, waist and arm or sleeve measurements alongside traditional size labels for both men and women. A black, one-button, second-hand tuxedo jacket from J. Crew, for example, is marked as fitting like a men’s medium and women’s large.  Manzocco also carries accessories, including handmade reversible bow ties and floral lapel pins from Toronto accessories-maker Just Sultan and triangle-shaped, orange earrings from local jeweller Moonlight for Violet.

Future is the Future, which opened in November, functions primarily as a website, but Manzocco says she occasionally does markets and pop-ups. If interest grows, she will consider opening a bricks-and-mortar store in Toronto.

When Ben Barry, a fashion professor at Ryerson University and the founder of a self-named modelling agency, heard about Future is the Future, he says he was excited because he believes it is opening doors for “a lot more play, a lot more experimentation and an explosion of the gender binary.”  Women can get away with slouchy boyfriend jeans, oversized men’s dress shirts and even ties, but Barry says men garner more critical looks when they borrow their sartorial sense from women.

Accessories

Accessories

“Playing with colourful socks, bow ties and pocket squares can be seen as stepping outside the box of masculinity, so for men to be more outside of that box and wear floral shirts, skirts or heels, that could be seen as jeopardizing their masculinity even more,” he says.

Herman Vintage Varsity Jacket

Herman Vintage Varsity Jacket

Though designers such as Yves St. Laurent transformed the smoking jacket look into a women’s trend and J.W. Anderson filled his runway with skirt-wearing men, Barry says “the fashion industry is divided.”  It’s hard to change the industry because buyers browsing collections for their stores are shopping for men or women — not both, he says, adding that is bound to change.

“For some (Future is the Future) may be seen as radical, but a lot of people are rejecting these gender categories because they are a lot more playful with shopping in different sections and wearing garments that are made for men and women,” he says. “It’s the future of the fashion industry.”

Thrifted Button-Down

Thrifted Button-Down

Sara Medd, the founder of a Los Angeles-based clothing start-up, agrees.  Her soon-to-launch company, Greyscale Goods, scours the world for gender-neutral brands, which they pack into boxes based on an individual customer’s style. Buyers who receive the boxes rummage through the items choosing what they like before sending the rest back in a prepaid package within five days.

70's Button Down

70’s Button Down

“The true heart of the fashion industry is open-minded,” she says. “Androgynous clothing is nearly there. It’s the next step.”

Source: The Star

Cheap Clothes – High Cost


Cambodia’s aggressive anti-trafficking campaign is designed to rescue and rehabilitate sex workers. But many women say authorities there are actually forcing them into a trade where conditions and pay are even worse: making clothing for Western brands.  VICE News traveled to Phnom Penh to speak with former and current sex workers, officials and labor organizers to investigate what is happening to those swept up in the country’s trafficking crackdown.

Source: VICE News