Materials Matter - some thoughts at the close of 2019's Fashion Revolution Week
Today closes out 2019's Fashion Revolution Week. Its a cause that's been near and dear to my heart since I started my own personal journey towards minimalism 10 years ago, but becomes more important as I build this business.
It all started with me reading the labels on my clothing and asking, 'What is this shirt made of?' or 'Where were these jeans made?'.
These questions inevitably led me down a dark and humbling hole into the world of clothing and textile manufacturing. I learned that slavery still exists. That the rayon in my blouse is illegal to manufacture in the USA because its an environmental hazard (its all manufactured in China) and that bamboo textiles are, in fact, harmful to the environment.
The weight of all this is what inspired me to learn to sew in the first place - I wanted more control over my personal consumption. Let's face it - none of us can avoid consumption, and none of us are going to be perfect citizens of Planet Earth. What I have promised myself is to support independent pattern designers, use deadstock fabric, or choose 100% natural and renewable fabrics such as organic cotton, linen, or wool. Bonus points for materials manufactured in the USA or a country with strong labor protections for their workers. And of course, to use up what I already have (this is one of the biggest things anyone can do - use up what you have before replacing it with an eco-friendly replacement!).
This has all become a heavier responsibility now that Bow and Maro is a living and breathing business. I want to be sure that what I offer in my online store reflects my values as an individual. I want you to know that you're purchasing a well-made item that has left a positive footprint in both society and on Planet Earth. If you wanted, you could compost anything you purchase from me.
Naturally, my operation isn't perfect - none of us on this journey are - but please know that I'm making daily efforts towards making this a societally- and environmentally- mindful company. My current project is cleaning up my shipping practices and finding compostable packing materials in which to ship your items.
All of this information is upsetting - it moved me to make major changes in all aspects of my life. Yet, 10 years into this, I've seen major changes occur after enough people asked "Who made my clothes?"
I am witnessing US cotton farmers get their business back, small, ethically-minded textile businesses pop up and thrive, and a resurgence of interest in learning to sew and knit.