Hello, sweet friends, and welcome to the newly designed Downtown Demure!
I’m so excited to share this post with you as it has been on my heart for years now. Like many of you, I spent the first few weeks of January meditating on my goals for the new year. I ended up with a laundry list of goals for my little online space. I plan to write more at least 7 more style-enhancing tutorial posts, like the posts you loved in my Style 101 series. I plan to collaborate more with other modest fashion bloggers (so you’ll see less of my mug and more of theirs). I even plan to enter the (slightly frightening) world of Youtube. Once I narrowed down my list, I quickly realized that these goals are perhaps the most important:
To be a more conscious consumer and to stop buying and promoting fast fashion.
I’ve considered quitting fast fashion for years now, but I’ve honestly been too selfish to commit. I know such a goal may alienate readers who don’t share my sentiments on fast fashion, lead to fewer collaboration opportunities, and will require a complete 180 in my deal-oriented, Zara-centric shopping habits. Successfully reaching this goal will honestly be difficult…but it’s time.
Why am I committing to this goal so hardcore? The statistics I’ve learned over the years are haunting.
Over 97% of clothes sold in the US is made abroad (in countries with less strict labor laws and regulations)
Americans throw away 13 TONS of clothing every year. Only a small percentage of that clothing gets recycled or donated. And that number is rising.
The above number is not an accident. Fast fashion retailers intentionally sell poorly constructed clothing because such clothing is a) cheap to produce and b) lead to increased purchases because consumers have to replace clothing more often. http://www.npr.org/2013/03/11/174013774/in-trendy-world-of-fast-fashion-styles-arent-made-to-last.
The average hourly wage for garment workers in developing countries is appalling. In Bangladesh it’s $0.24, in Cambodia it’s $0.45, in Pakistan it’s $0.52, in Vietnam it’s $0.53, and in China it’s $1.26.
Garment workers are often dying from poor work conditions and dismal pay. The Rana Plaza factory collapse and the mass fainting of garment workers in Cambodia are all examples of this sad reality.
Even more haunting facts are expertly illustrated in this excellent infographic from Alexandra Heinz:
From a deeply personal perspective, I finally acknowledged WHY I was so reluctant to give up my fast-fashion habit: I was insecure. I was worried if I didn’t keep up with at least some of the 50+ micro trends that arise every year (thanks a lot, Zara), I would become irrelevant as a fashion blogger. I’d check Instagram weekly and notice a sea of fashion bloggers looking flawless in their OTK boots, bell-sleeve sweaters, velvet everything, etc., and eventually felt I needed to do the same. I didn’t want to pay big bucks for fleeting trends, so I’d shop for such items at places like Zara, Boohoo, and H&M, where I could get them for less than $25 bucks a pop. I recognize how silly and problematic a fear of fashion irrelevancy is, particularly as a Christian fashion blogger who encourages others to embrace their faith and god-honoring wardrobe in spite of cultural norms and demands. Now, I feel less inclined to shop for trendy goods as I grow more confident in my personal style and less interested in accumulating stuff. I want OUT of that cycle of weekly micro-trends marketing gimmicks that lead to little aside from discontent with my wardrobe. I no longer want invest in companies that don’t make products at the expense of human lives and dignity. If money talks, I want mine to speak boldly in support of brands that don’t sacrifice human dignity and wellbeing for increased profits.
My lovely readers, please note that I’m not writing this post to widely cast judgment upon those who continue to shop at fast-fashion stores. I’m merely sharing my personal revelations…because I have to keep it 100 with you!
In the spirit of keeping it 100, here’s a list of what I’m committed to doing on Downtown Demure as I seek to ditch my fast-fashion habit:
I will not purchase cheap, fast fashion items for DD photoshoots. I can be borderline OCD when prepping for photo shoots. I have very specific looks I want to achieve, so I sometimes seek out specific items to complete my desired look. My desire for perfect often led me to purchase cheap, fast fashion items simply to build an outfit I found aesthetically pleasing. I realize now that’s a wasteful and dishonest approach, and I will cut it out for 2017.
I will vet brands I collaborate with. Before agreeing to work with a brand, I will ask them two important questions: who made my clothes and how are they treated at work?
I will utilize fashion resale services before buying brand new clothing. Guys, I tried… but I just can’t get into shopping at physical thrift stores. The lack of organization and amount of clutter in most of them overwhelm me; I often walk in a thrift store and run out thirty seconds later empty handed. That’s why I’m SO grateful for the advent of clothing re-sale sites and services like ThredUp and Poshmark (Shameless plug: here is my closet. You can get $5 off your first purchase with code BNFRG). In an effort to reduce clothing waste, I will utilize those services BEFORE buying brand new clothing.
I will promote more fair trade, ethical, brands. In fact, I have a few collabs with ethical brands hitting Downtown Demure in the next few months I think y’all will love. The only downside is the clothes will typically be more expensive than the cheap, fast-fashion clothing I’ve featured on here before, but they will also last longer and hopefully encourage more conscious shopping.
I also think it’s important to share what I do not promise to do on here:
I will not discontinue shooting fast fash items. You will continue to see items from fast fashion brands like Zara and H&M because they currently comprise 60% of my closet (and throwing away or discarding wearable clothing is both cray cray and harmful to the environment). However, you won’t see me encouraging you to buy those items unless I purchased them through a resale service or online thrift store.
Pursuing my conscious shopping goal is ultimately a journey that I’ve only just begun. I have much to learn and I will likely make a few mistakes along the way. I ask that you be gracious to me as I pursue this goal and as I continue to share my thoughts and progress. Up next week: I will share my loose plan for my transition from fast fashion consumer to an ethical brand supporter.
Are you on the same ethical fashion journey? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below (and please share some tips if you’re an ethical fashion pro!)