Last week, I finally sat down to watch True Cost, a documentary about the fashion industry, and specifically low cost fashion. I highly recommend it. It is available on Netflix. The film’s website also lists other platforms for watching. I think the film does a beautiful job of highlighting how the fashion industry is hugely exploitative of both people and of the environment. The interviews and footage are unforgettable. After watching the film, I don’t think anyone could look at a table of $5 shirts at Target in the same way again.
Such low cost clothing has almost made it feel like it’s disposable, and that is not a socially or environmentally sustainable attitude. The notion of a handmade wadrobe becomes increasingly appealing as you watch the film. I hope the industry might begin to feel the impact if more people commit to more sustainable clothing options, whether it is through people making more clothing or choosing to buy from companies with more sustainable practices. The tags tell us where our clothing comes from, and it is time to stop ignoring those tags.
In some areas, I’m definitely making progress toward a more handmade wardrobe, but I have a ways to go in others. As I have started to clean my wadrobe of the inexpensive shirts and pants, I’ve done my best to reuse the fabrics in some way. I try to use old shirts to make clothes for my daughter or to make shopping bags. We pass clothes from my daughter to younger kids to prolong the life of those items. We donate well-loved items as well, but the fate of those pieces is not completely clear. I hope that in the next year, I can find a sweater to unravel and give some yarn new life. I am grateful that I am able to sew and knit sweaters and shirts. As I buy yarn and fabric, I am also beginning to research the companies and their environmental and social practices as well. I am trying to move away from the big-box stores as much as possible and turn toward more local options. In terms of wardrobe, I find pants to be a big stumbling block. They tend to come from some of the areas with the most egregious practices. Obviously, I am not going to knit myself pants (it would be weird). But, my sewing skills are not quite up to the task of making pants quite yet. But, it is something to begin aspiring to.
In any case, watch the documentary, share, and discuss.