I confess: I can get a little Chris McCandless intense about my love for the outdoors. If there is any way to enjoy it - whether I'm eating lunch, playing music, or working on a project that would be much easier to navigate inside - I compromise convenience to be out of doors. I believe we were all made and wired to crave a closeness with the world in its most unaltered or air conditioned state. Unpredictable breezes proceeding the sudden thunder clap into a storm that brings a special kind of adrenaline; it's actually magical. I've never seen someone walk casually through a unexpected storm, even though there's a microscopic chance of impending danger. We run. It's always just as exciting and romantic and beautiful as it was the last time. Who doesn't love being swooned and swept away? Few people would argue the incomparable feeling of contentment that a 70 degree partly cloudy fall day can bring. It's a really amazing thing that something we can't avoid being a part of is so beautifully captivating, mysteriously unpredictable, and also unrelentingly humbling. Leave it to a frigid winter day to make you feel like maybe you aren't quite as tough as you thought.
As someone who has always loved fashion and nature exclusively, it took a years for me to realize the harsh reality that one is actually eating away at the other. I have learned over the years that clothing actually comprises the majority of the world's waste. In the same breath, we know that there are billions of people around the world without clothes at all. What does this say of the fashion industry?
Let's talk about the lifespan of a shirt from a very popular store like Forever21.
- Someone, one out of thousands of ridiculously underpaid factory workers (in inhuman working conditions), makes that shirt. That shirt never reaches a consumer without passing through human hands. This is important.
- The shirt is processed, packaged, and shipped to one of the Forever21 stores.
- An employee displays the shirt so nicely that it catches the attention of a customer.
- The customer buys the shirt and wears the shirt 3 times
- The shirt rips. There's a big hole in the armpit. How embarrassing. Not wearing that again.. and it's "not worth donating." Let's just throw it away.
- The shirt is then added to the worldwide problem we are facing today: clothing is the #2 source of waste in the world. *
This is not the life of every Forever21 shirt, it is just an example of what often follows the patronizing of low-cost-high-distribution retail stores. There are many stores cranking out cheaply made clothing, up-selling it exponentially, and underpaying workers. To make matters worse, factory workers are dying under the poor working conditions they are given. It is shocking and appalling that these truths are not being discussed and remedied faster than we can conjure up designs for the next round of fashion trends to be thrown out in a year. It needs to be talked about. As consumers, we play a role - the only role - and actually have the power to be change agents. We can work to protect the world we have the privilege of living in and enjoying every day. We can also stand up for the people who are never given recognition or even adequate compensation for the incredible garments they create.
Stone + Harper is currently a vintage and vintage up-cycled store. This is a process that involves hand-picking timeless pieces that have been proven their longevity, cleaning, inspecting, and making slight alterations to modernize or stylize the garments. It can require anything from hemming to adding buttons and zippers. Up-cycling is a sustainable way to produce clothing while providing a sustainable way to shop.
Starting in the Spring of 2016, Stone + Harper will be adding a handmade section to the store. We are very excited about this, and are sewing and design currently with a tiny team of three. I am dreaming up minimal and timeless pieces and using eco-friendly materials to fulfill the goal of knowing your manufacturer and investing in quality pieces. On my end, I have reached the point of "less talking, more doing." It will be a LOT of work, but I am over the moon about designing and creating a line for you all! I can't wait to introduce the items alongside the lovely creatives I have working with me! Thank you for being with me on this journey finding and supporting growth in creativity. With the world around me serving as one of my biggest inspirations, I'm excited to pioneer awareness in sustainability as well.
Did you scroll right past these words wishing there was some kind of movie you could watch that would better explain all of this? Good news! The True Cost* exists. That is where I got a few facts used in this post. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you watch it. Right now.
Have a lovely week!