Last week I got together with my blogger friend Ellie and we packed our cameras and headed to Laptop & Smalltalk’s Sustainable Fashion Forum at the Good Mod near downtown Portland. There were drinks and nibbles to enjoy while we perused the racks of local designers who were on hand to chat and answer questions. The street style among the crowd was definitely noteworthy and head-turning (in a good way).
After a half an hour of mingling, Kerri Ulloa of Green Eileen kicked off a six-person panel discussing various aspects of sustainability and ethics in the design world.
From L-R: Kerri Ulloa, Shelby Morgan, Kate Troyer, Marcela Dyer, Lizz Basinger, Alexa Stark, Jason Calderon
Some of the highlights:
Every empire has to fall and fast fashion has hit such a peak.
-Lizz Basinger, Lizz Basinger Designs
I think a lot of the public isn’t aware of how clothing is made and so I think a lot of brands are just banking on that lack of knowledge…. If you don’t know how clothing is made, why not go into H&M and if you see a pair of jeans for $15 and they look good, then sure, why not. But there is a whole reason why they cost $15. I can’t even buy material to make a pair of jeans for $15.
-Jason Calderon, West Daily
You wouldn’t expect to buy a pint of beer that has local and high-end ingredients and is eight bucks a pint. You wouldn’t complain that ‘oh, I can get a whole pack of Budweiser at the supermarket for the same price.’ It’s not the same thing.
-Jason Calderon, West Daily
We do have a vote with the power of the purse. I think we’re realizing we have that ability everyday, it’s not one time in four years, we have that ability every single day with every single purchase we make.
-Shelby Morgan, Veil & Valor
Hearing from these industry insiders reaffirmed my decision not to participate in the mass-profit process that happens with most major retailers. Retailers who are constantly cycling new clothing designs in and out with the goal of making as much money as they can. It’s a process that forsakes the art of clothing, and worse, favors profits over people.
Not only are these items cheaply made and rely on cheap labor, but I don’t want to be a puppet or a cog in the wheel of their process. I would rather support emerging designers and companies that value the people who make their clothes. I want to invest in companies that work hard to minimize their environmental impact. The apparel industry is the second largest polluter of the environment after the oil industry. We are just as responsible for that pollution when we participate in the fast-fashion cycle, buying and shedding clothing at an alarming rate. Attending this event was a good reminder to me to slow down and enjoy and care for what I have, and participate in fashion in the most responsible way I can.