Try this little experiment: compliment five people on what they are wearing and observe their responses.
If you did this with me a few years ago, there’s a pretty good chance my response would have been “I got it at Macy’s for $15! Originally $95!” Unfortunately, I don’t expect your experiment will go too differently.
Things changed for me when I decided to only buy ethically-made clothes, or thrifted clothes, about two years ago. In that moment, my perspective changed. No longer did I care about quantity and bargains, I cared about investing in fewer pieces I loved, pieces that told a story.
Compliment me now on the moto sweatshirt I am wearing and I will share with you “This was made using fabrics knitted in Canada, and was cut and sewn in Denver. The company was actually started by my friend in college, and she designs every piece herself!”
Feels different, right?
I created IMBY because I wanted to shift the dialogue. I wanted people to be as mindful and passionate about their clothes as they are about other choices, for example, what they eat, how the treat their bodies, the type of gas they use to fuel their car (you wouldn’t dare to put regular gas in a premium-only car, would you?!).
Why can’t our clothes be the same?
Yesterday I cleaned my room and closet in a big way. I looked at piles of clothes, tote bags, and other items I have collected over the years, and wished I had discovered the comfort and space in the minimalist, lean closet lifestyle years ago. I don’t live with regrets, however I now realize the amount of my time, money, and effort went into all those piles of clothes, but also, the effects those clothes have on the environment and the individuals who made them. While they served me at the time, I am now a mindful shopper, one that cares deeply about the way my clothes are made, and someone who considers every item I add to my closet.
I challenge you to think about your mindset with clothes. Do you want more items for cheaper, or fewer items that are higher quality? It was quite liberating to me to realize I could actually buy items that I used to think were too “expensive” but, given my focus on buying less, and buying only things I truly love, I could afford because I wasn’t buying tons of other cheap items. My investment in higher quality, more expensive clothes has actually lead me to spending less than I used to when I would shop to kill time and buy a handful of $15 t-shirts.
That’s what the ethical, slow fashion movement is all about: putting a little (or a lot!) of thought into the way we shop. Considering each item we look at to determine if it’s an item we will love, get many seasons out of, one that we will want to wear all the time. One that we are excited about the way it was made, and the story we will now have the opportunity to share when asked.
I encourage you to think about the story your clothes will tell the next time you go shopping, and see how it affects what you buy.