365 days without shopping!

Let's be honest girls...we buy too many clothes. This year I have decided to put an end to my constant clothing consumption and re-invent, re-work and recycle my own wardrobe and the wardrobes around me. I will only wear clothes made by my own hands, exchanged / borrowed from a friend (or friendly stranger) or salvaged secondhand. And so starts my good fashion choices, even if I'm only making them for myself.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The New York Sundress

As I sat down to sew my first project I started musing about the year ahead and all the adventures I might get myself into. Looking down at my sewing machine a question hit me…’ have you forgotten how bad you are at sewing??’ This particular question was spawned by a memory from fashion collage…

I was about to start work experience with one of Australia’s most famous designer labels, which I won’t name (although I will tell you they rhyme with cinnamon). I was so nervous about what to wear that I decided to make my entire outfit. This outfit included a pair of very stylish tweed pants, Chanel style. But perhaps something my garment construction teachers forgot to mention when sewing with loose weave tweed; ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS reinforce the seams, particularly if those seams are under a bit of pressure. Halfway through the day I looked down at my crotch, which was rather exposed at this stage and almost burst into tears. The centre back and front seams were completely unravelled! Looking around the room I spotted several old samples, most of which were pants. I rushed to my supervisor and showed her what happened, hoping she would let me borrow a pair until the next day. She just smiled, handed me a needle and thread and directed me to the bathroom.

With that experience under my belt (which is firmly around a sturdy pair of jeans) I have decided to put off making pants until I absolutely have to. There is also the dilemma of badly needing a swimming costume and other tricky pieces in my summer wardrobe.

I have decided to start with an easy alteration job, leaving the garment construction to another day. The above dress was purchased completely on impulse while visiting New York. I hit the shops with gusto only to discover the thing getting hit hardest was my bank account. Nearing the end of my trip my cousin asked, ‘aren’t you going to buy anything?’ To which I panicked and bought the first decent cheap sundress I came across. What happened was what often happens with cheap impulse buys, after the second wear it lost any elastic it once had in the back and the waist seam fell apart.

My solution: I Unpicked the ties and sewed them on as straps. Then I reinforce the waist seam.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

How I Got Here

As explained in my 'About Me' section, I studied fashion design and for a time worked in 'the fashion industry'. While still at collage I went on a tour of the headquarters of one of Australia's largest clothing chains. Something our tour guide said has always stuck with me:

'Our clothes are disposable fashion', she said. 'We're lucky if our designs make it to the washing machine.' ...

While I was impressed with the sheer volume of the garments produced and proud that an Australian company was thriving, the idea of the wastefulness and the ethical and ecological consequences of such mass production never sat well with me.
I got started working at the bottom of the food chain for a tiny importing company, who sent me out with a camera and a buying budget, to knock off whatever the top chain stores were selling. I would spend hours scouring the Internet for the latest trends and get them into production before the market changed again. Needless to say, it was exhausting and left me creatively disillusioned. I knew that the garments I was helping to produce couldn't be good for the environment, for the people constructing them or ultimately the consumer wearing them. But I couldn't see any other way for the market to still make its profits and Australia to be able to afford fashionable clothes.
Now don't get me wrong I LOVE FASHION and understand that style has been evolving since then beginning of time. I also think that Australia boasts some of the greatest designers on the earth. But this demand for disposable or 'fast fashion' causes labels and thus manufacturers to produce minimally designed, poorly constructed garments that are worn a few times and then discarded to landfill. Garments might make it to an op-shop or vintage store, but let's face it, garments of this quality weren't worth wearing the first time and will hardly hold up through the ages.
It is for these above reasons that I now find myself here; discontented with the moral, ethical, and ecological choices of the mainstream fashion industry and I'm definitely not alone. Supermodel Lily Cole was quoted in Peppermint Mag saying: 'I have long had misgivings about the industry I work in'. The demand for 'slow' fashion is on the rise with interest in fairtrade, organic and vintage becoming more and more popular.
And so the time has come to start making good fashion choices, even if I'm only making them for myself.