3.16.2012

Interesting Choice

Sorry this blog is getting the shaft again but I was busy orchestrating a vet housecall for my herd of cats and my friend has convinced me to sign up not only for the 4 mile race I had my eye on but also a 10k. Which means I have to learn how to run 6 miles. Fingers crossed I don't get locked in the gym again, right?

On the ethical fashion front, I made an interesting choice last week. I deliberately bought a sweatshop jacket. I had been in the market for a spring jacket for months and diligently looked at Beacon's Closet and the thrift but none were to be found. I saw this jacket online via Refinery 29's trench slide show and when it turned warmer, I stopped in to check out the quality and ended up buying it for $35.

Untitled

Do I feel like a traitor? Yeah, kind of.

Focusing on plain or classic cuts and better made items will hopefully afford me years of use. I had made an effort to buy reused (and to look for reduced-harm new versions) but my deadline came before I found any. (I had this sucker on my shopping list for months and months.) Realistically, I assume the buttons on this will need to be reinforced and I might have a tailor line the front since it abruptly interfaces with my jeans, although it's great with dresses and skirts.

This is the first time in a long time that that I:

- purchased anything at all
- purchased something sweatshop deliberately

I'm still not sure how I feel about it. If an item hits all the other things you value -- no animal products, versatility, longevity -- does it mean you can ignore some of the other values like labor standards and material sourcing? How long do you keep looking when you can't find a used or ethically-made new garment?

I know these are questions we can only answer for ourselves. But I can already tell I wish it worked out differently. I wish I found a used jacket that I could have mentioned here instead. Or that I found a great company that just happened to make what I wanted in my price range. Because I feel like that's what this blog is supposed to be about - positive solutions. Not concessions.

I don't know if I consider this a mistake, per se. But I do know that it's been stuck in my mind since I bought it -- the "is this right?" question -- and I didn't want to NOT post it here.

11 comments:

  1. We have to wear clothes, whether or not the thrift gods smile on us. I tend to beat myself up about my few new-clothes purchases, but it doesn't get me far. I'd guess that you have five to ten second-hand or ethically-produced garments for every sweatshop piece; that has to be worth something.

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  2. If you are like me, within a week of buying anything retail I tend to stumble across something similar in a thrift. I do like the cut of the jacket though--especially the wide lapel.

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  3. Look. you tried right?! You really did. And you have very strong convictions about ethical consuming...so I'm sure this was no light matter. Your readers will understand this. And actually you did pretty well, to at least find one that was vegan and well made - the fact that the trench may not suit your other value requirements perhaps suggests a failing on the designer/manufacturer/retailers behalf more than yours.

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  4. I wouldn't beat yourself up too much about it. Like the others said, you made an effort! I recently made a somewhat cringe worthy "new" purchase, which I justified by: using a gift card; item being a known/tested comfort brand that I'll get a lot of use out of; might be able to customize it for more uniqueness; and snagged it from the clearance bin which looked like it was stuff people had returned.

    I like your jacket. I have a vintage one similar, but it's probably too big for you, isn't double-breasted and is missing a button. Maybe I'll fix it up and offer on etsy in case someone sees you rocking yours and has to have one. :)

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  5. Well, I can relate. My new suit is (if-not-exactly-sweatshop) by a company whose manufacturing practices have been called into question. I decided to buy it because I could tell that it was well made, and the material seemed high-quality, despite the brand. Don't be too hard on yourself. Your coat looks very nice, and hopefully it lasts for a long, long time.

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  6. I know what you mean, it is hard! I am not nearly as disciplined as you, but I am always struggling to find stuff that ticks all the boxes.

    Like the others said though, you tried, so don't feel bad! I hope you will get many years of wear out of this!

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  7. I appreciate hearing your struggle and moral dilemma because I go through the same self-beating! Thanks for sharing.

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  8. I've thought about this kind of thing a lot...you know, it's good to know that I'm not the only person who has these kinds of dilemmas! Since I started avoiding sweatshop clothes (it's been about 2 years), it's almost like I've had to change the way I think about clothes...if I want specific items, it's really hard to get them secondhand. I basically have to wear whatever I find, and then make it work, which is totally opposite from how "the fashion powers that be" tell us to shop. I have a hard time thrifting pants that fit, so I bought some sweatshop pants recently, because I had nothing good to wear to job interviews. It happens! It's virtually impossible to be 100% vegan (like, aren't there animal products in computers?, I say this as someone who's trying) and I feel like avoiding sweatshops is the same way.

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  9. Thank you, everyone, for weighing in on this. And especially for letting me know you go through similar thought processes.

    I'm wearing the trench yet again today so at the very least, it's getting some good use already.

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  10. I don't think you can beat yourself up too much about this because you did try.
    But...congrats on signing up for the 10k! Running 6 miles will be an awesome accomplishment. I still remember the first time I ran that far because it was FAR.

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  11. So I agree with a lot of what everyone is saying...do not be so hard on yourself. Literally we can only do what we can and you really do your best to try to be a very compassionate shopper and that is much farther than loads of people go.

    I was having this discussion with another conscious blogger b/c of the whole Andean Collection situation. It's really hard to negotiate and to really know how far we should and can go in terms of our ethical shopping. And everyone who becomes a conscious shopper that is not rolling in the dough can totally appreciate the struggle you had with that coat.

    Also, I am like the Michael Jordan of shopping when it comes to clothes. Next time you're looking for something and are having trouble finding it at your well loved spots, holler at me and I'm more than happy to look. I live in thrift store central! For real! Or reach out to your bloggy homies. I have totally asked for help looking for ethical products that are alluding me and found staples through other peeps' suggestions. So don't be shy in reaching out!

    Good luck on your run!

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