My Fast Fashion Revelation

Here I find myself again. Staring at a closet full of clothes and feeling I have nothing to wear. Half the closet is waiting for me to loose a few pounds and the other half are bargain garments I never really loved. Have you experienced this moment?

Hi, Made for Freedom community! I am Jennifer, the newest member of the Made for Freedom team. My passion for fighting human trafficking was ignited in college. It is the reason I was inspired to go back to school and found myself a part of the Made for Freedom team. Since I have been with Made for Freedom, I have learned a lot about the fashion industry and a practice called fast fashion--the practice of paying workers the lowest wage legally permissible in order to keep costs low and volume high. Knowing that those who make the majority of our clothes are paid poverty wages and forced to work grueling schedules in atrocious working conditions. the average American adds an average of 62 pieces of clothing, made in this way, to their wardrobe each year. I want to share with you a little bit about the journey this knowledge sent me on.

So, back to that moment standing before my full closet. Knowing what I know now about the norms of the fashion industry, I realize that the majority of my closet does not reflect my values. The choices I have made were in ignorance of the true, human and ecological cost of fast fashion practices. So, I stand now face to face with a closet full of clothes that reflect my style but do not reflect who I am or the values I claim to live by. I felt something had to change. I had to change.

Feeling convicted, I decide to sort through this mess of ill-fitting, often hole- and tear-ridden clothing, realizing that many shirts barely make it through a few washes. I know now that this is due to the fashion industry switching to poor quality stitching and fabrics to provide low prices and high volumes of clothing. In all, I have 210 articles of clothing and around 50 worn-out pieces.

Removing the clothing, that I actually wear out of the house, I was close to the average American that routinely wears around only 20% of their entire wardrobe. The idea of a sustainable minimalist wardrobe no longer seemed so restrictive. I find myself ready to transform my closet and my shopping habits. The items that don't fit my shape or style are off to donation centers. The damaged and worn out pieces of clothes will find new life as recycling companies transform them into things like insulation and carpet padding. I have kept only those pieces I truly love, and are pair-able with other items, and ones that fit me well.

This wardrobe purge and reconstruction has come at an opportune time, as I am transitioning from a grad-school wardrobe to a more professional one. Having fewer pieces, changing my look with accessories, and loving what I wear is quite freeing. I still enjoy shopping with family and friends, but the hunt for that one piece I need that fits my checklist can be quite a fun challenge.

This checklist has helped me to navigate in selecting pieces to add to my wardrobe. I hope you might find it useful too!

It can be difficult to know how ethically sourced your favorite shopping places are. Here is a list of some great resources that have helped me.

  1. Threadflip, Etsy, Dresm - Online resale shops.
  2. Find out how your favorite brand measures up.
  3. Brand profiles and listings.
  4. Search for brand's ethical score.
  5. Blog with great resources on a minimalist wardrobe,
  6. Tortoise and Lady Grey - Fashion blog with great resources.

This journey has profoundly shifted the way I think about shopping. For me it means that I invest in quality pieces with classic style rather than the volume of inexpensive trendy clothing. I am also in search of a great tailor, which will allow me to shop resale along with having a great fit. I admit that it will be hard to resist that urge to take advantage of a great “deal,” but I now realize that the only way such a volume of clothing can be offered at such low prices is due to paying workers a poverty wage and by using low quality materials, which greatly diminishes the intoxicating thrill of the bargain hunt. It is a challenge to shop this new way but I am content in the knowledge that my closet now fully reflects my style and conscience.

I am off to photograph Made for Freedom's new professional line. Thank you for taking a minute to let me share my fast fashion journey with you!

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