I'm a plus size hypocrite, and it's time for change.
In a time when the fashion industry is in an arms race for "fast fashion," meaning cheap in both price and quality and copied from the runways in record speed, ethical fashion is often seen as a luxury that your average middle class fashionista can't afford. The more we turn our attention towards the cheap stuff, the harder it becomes for the good designers to stay in business. Every time we checkout with the cheap rags of Forever21 and Old Navy, we are rewarding cheap labor and clothing waste, and new brands pop up wanting to get in on the fast fashion dollars, too.
And then in six months from now, when our cheap rags have been washed a few times and pilled to hell, we'll try to give them away to Goodwill, who will accept it but still probably have to send it to a landfill. Guys, we kind of suck.
We can do better.
That's why this year, I've committed to only buying ethically made clothing. I am tired of ethical brands leaving plus size customers out of their equations and I'm tired of plus size customers demanding more cheap garbage. WE ARE BETTER THAN THAT.
I'm tired of being a hypocrite. I'm out there cheering on body positive activists who demand more from the media and fashion industry all the time. And you know what? We're a powerful voice and we're making things happen, so it's time to start using that power to demand the same rights we want for ourselves — visibility, equal rights, equal treatment — for the people who make our clothes.
Don't get me wrong. I've put together looks that were cute as hell on a magical Forever21 run. I'm refocusing my efforts towards supporting ethical fashion because it's both my weakness and my passion.
And I don't believe that any of us want people to suffer for our cheap sense of style. We want to look and feel like a million bucks and the pressures to always look selfie-ready are higher than ever, but our wants and our wallets are hella out of sync. Companies like Forever21, Maurice's, and Charlotte Russe aren't in the business of exploiting poor people, they're responding to demands of millions of customers, and they're doing it the only way that is humanly possible. Exploiting poor people (both their workers AND their customers) is just a byproduct of doing exactly what we customers told brands to do: give us cheap, fast fashion by any means necessary.
What's worse, many, many designers and stores couldn't tell you the story of their own garments if they tried. If I walk into, say, JCPenney today and ask the sales clerk where the fabulous Ashley Nell Tipton's clothing is produced, the story will end with the "Made in ______" printed on the tags. This isn't because and JCP and ANT don't give a damn; I wholly believe they care. The process a garment goes through before it gets to the sales floor rarely begins and ends in one place or even one company. I'll get into that more in a future post so your head doesn't spin like mine did when I went down a sourcing rabbit hole recently.
We're also just consuming SO MUCH. I just cleared out six whole bags of my own clothing from my closet in preparation for our move to LA, and I will STILL fill a closet edge-to-edge in our new home. I'm an extreme case because I'm a wardrobe stylist and I love to shop, but I know I'm not alone. The fashion industry and media have conned us into believing that we need a new outfit for every occasion. A new season comes and suddenly last Summer's clothes just don't measure up. Blah blah blah. If you can't take a vacation because your getaway is in your closet (I'm guilty, too), then it's time for a reality check.
I need to get all of the depressing real talk out of the way so that I can move forward now with the good stuff. My hope is that by the end of this year, I will have amassed such a huge a list of amazing designers doing right by their people and the planet that you and I can guilt-free buy to our hearts' (and wallets') desires. And we'll be smart about it. We'll stop hoarding clothing that doesn't fit and tailors won't touch.
We as consumers have more power than ever when it comes to choosing the future of fashion. Let's own it. Ethical fashion for every body.
Are you ready??