July 2, 2012

high fashion + low impact = ♥

There is nothing modern about being a conscious consumer. Our grandparents and many of our parents were classically stylish and understood the value of a well-made garment. They bought fewer items, with much more attention to quality and fit. Careful laundering of their clothing, so they would endure as long as possible- was how they maximized their investment.
I’m very proud of the fact that I’m still wearing the Nanette Lepore coats I purchased 10 years ago. At the time these purchases put a lock on my clothing budget for a bit, yet the purchase was a very wise investment. These coats have been belted and unbelted, pinned, and draped in over a dozen different scarves. Every year I find a new way to wear them, including new color and textural combinations.  Moreover, through the many slight changes in my body over the years, these garments still hang beautifully. Expert tailoring?  Absolutely.  However, I owe much of this to very careful, and infrequent laundering.  Obviously, I can’t say that about all my clothes (hello, baby spit), however, the expense and beauty of these items and other similar pieces, seem to warrant special care. What if we treated more of our clothes in this manner?
Raised awareness of the quality of garments we buy and cleaning those items less frequently not only allows the product to last longer but it also reduces the impact on our precious resources, many of them non-renewable. Further, the decreased burden from hazardous chemicals on the environment is another benefit.  Keeping and wearing high-quality garments for more seasons and occasions; caring for garments in a low-impact way; repairing them whenever possible; and sharing them with friends and family members is far more fashionable than supporting low-quality, mystery manufacturing.  

Repairing and/or re-purposing clothing is also NICE. Most people wouldn’t toss an expensive sweater in the trash just because it had a tiny hole or was missing a button. Tailoring and repairing garments can be pricey, but with a bit of research it’s likely that affordable options will come to light. Getting creative is also encouraged. Start talking to your friends and family; someone may have an idea or a resource that may have not occurred to you. Finding a dry cleaner that uses non-toxic solvents and also has an affordable alteration service would be a big bonus! If you find one, feel free to spread the word.

It’s no secret that ethically produced and sustainably-made garments are typically a bit more expensive than the stuff you are going to find at the discount stores. Yet these garments by definition have been made with thought and care, and often styled to transcend seasonal fads. If you commit to have these beautiful and precious items for more than a season and then apply the same quality of attention to maintaining them, you will have taken a giant step toward cleaning up the planet and standing up for the quality of life of all who live here.