You might have noticed that the idea of ethically-made and eco-friendly lingerie is important for me. It’s not something that is affordable to everybody but I feel like we should all do a conscient effort to think about who made our clothes and in what conditions. [The true cost documentary on Netflix is very informative]. I am not at all pretending to be perfect and like everybody else, I took some time to realize what was going on behind fast fashion. I mean, we all have an idea of what’s going on, even kids kind of know, but truly realizing it, figuring out the human labor weight, is another story.
It is important to realize that “made in china” isn’t always equal to “made in a sweatshop” and that “made in USA” doesn’t mean those workers were paid decently. I actually heard about UK factory workers being paid 3 pounds an hour (less than half the minimum wage) recently. For me the best way to determine if a garment is made in acceptable conditions is to do your research and think. When I look at the price of a garment, there are simple questions I often ask myself like “how long did it take to make this? What is the quality of the fabric and the seams? Does it features real pockets? (details that are often cancelled for the need of fast fashion especially on women clothes)” and then I see if the price makes sens according to the answers to these questions. Sadly, it can be hard to do your research since many companies are not open to the discussion and don’t show much transparency. But let’s be honest, this is already a bad sign. You would be surprised by the number of luxury brands who don’t treat their workers properly.
[“Good on you” is an app that is meant to help customers in their research for ethical fashion. I like it a lot because it also features interesting articles and advice to have a more eco-friendly, ethical life style]
So expensive isn’t equal to ethical. And interestingly ethical doesn’t have to be over-expensive. I’ve been contacted lately by Trendlistr, a website selling vintage clothing and accessories, about their exciting collaboration with the independent brand Effie Butterworth. For those who don’t know this brand, Effie Butterworth is a small business based in the UK that sells vintage garment and luxurious vintage-inspired lingerie. They don’t offer tons of different products but everything they make seems very delicate and well made. I hope I get to try one of their tap pants or slip at some point!
[From Effie Butterworth capsule collection, model: Kayleigh Falcus, MUA/Hair: Kristen Baillie, 📸: Marion Botella]
The collaboration between Trendlistr and Effie Butterworth was born from the realization that many people own nice vintage silk items and never wear them. The project is to upcycle these old pieces into new lingerie sets or loungewear. Effie Butterworth also has a ready-to-ship small capsule collection of lovely and affordable upcycled silk loungewear set made from vintage garments, available on Trendlistr.
I think this project is an amazing idea and a beautiful way to give some more love to old garments.
[From Effie Butterworth capsule collection]
Something I realized when I tried myself to upcycle old (modern) clothes is that these clothes are:
1) Not made to be fixed (the material might just fall apart if you tried to do anything else with it)
2) Polyester is ubiquitous
3) They age so badly that it feels bad to give them to associations
So of course, some things can be fixed, and some modern garments are less fragile than older ones (probably because the fabrics are sometimes way less delicate). But I have been really annoyed when I found myself thinking that I had no good solution to get ride of old clothes bought from fast fashion stores. I’ve never bought so many polyester garments as this doesn’t breath well, but sometimes you find it where it’s not expected and at the end you end up with a pair of shorts that is neither biodegradable nor upcyclable. It can still be recycled though, this is one solution, but there is basically no real way to get rid of it. I hope more compagnies organize ways to upcycle clothes so that we can improve the way we think fashion. In the meantime, we can keep thinking before buying!