How does STATE go about building a "circular textile economy?"
On whom does the responsibility fall – the maker? The consumer?
How do we afford this responsibility?
These are just a handful of the questions we have been asking. We've decided it's time to collect and reflect some answers here, in a public space. After all, this feels like a public problem that we're facing. What we wear, the clothes that we purchase to dress our bodies in, has become an environmental issue and a social one. Shifting it won't be easy, but we have some ideas.
Buy clothes from businesses with faces.
Buying from businesses that are willing to show the faces of those who make your clothes is one giant step in the right direction. The unfairness committed against the vast majority of people who sew clothes on this planet cannot be overstated, and it's far past time we bring those truths out from the shadows. One of our favorite ways this is happening?
The slow-fashion movement. Last April our Instagram feeds were awash with "I made your clothes;" the women and men who make your clothes in front of cameras and holding modest signs that declared their participation in this slower and more ethical system.
Search #whomademyclothes #fashionrevolution and #ethicalfashion for a closer look.
And take a look at some of our favorite slow labels:
Buy less ...
Buying less clothing accomplishes a few things: first, it acts as a signal to the system that we want to play differently (as consumers); second, it allows you to spend more money on ethical clothing. Both are essential. Many times consumers struggle with the higher price tag on an ethical small-business piece; it is difficult when we can easily hop in our cars, drive to a chain store, and walk out with a whole outfit for the price of one ethically sewn shirt.
We can only encourage you to know that the cost of cheap clothes is artificially low, and is made that way by (1) underpaying the people who make them, (2) the use of petroleum-based fibers (as opposed to naturally occurring ones), and (3), the use of labor in countries that have little or no worker accountability (unionization) and, too often, a laundry list of human rights offenses.
Buying clothes from people that feel accountable to you, themselves, and the people who work for them flips the script on an industry that has profited from unfairness for too long.
Take a look at this blog post by the amazing Elizabeth Suzann for a more in-depth description of the way a small-scale clothing maker prices her clothing.
... buy with purpose
We've seen a slow and steady shift toward what the industry is calling "The Uniform." It is tough to know if it's driven by pure style or a new air of ethics; either way, it works.
Many powerful women have come forward expressing their desire to pay less attention to what they wear (and how it is perceived by those around them), and are now basing their clothing choices on a Uniform. Since our beginning, STATE has sought to make clothes that are simple, wearable, long-lasting, and beyond any trend. We hope that when you buy a Smock, or a pair of origami pants, or any other thing we make, it will be with you forever, that it will allow you to be comfortable in your own skin, and that you'll continually find new ways to wear those pieces. Ultimately, your clothes should serve you, not complicate you. So while we understand (and have fallen victim to) the excitement of purchasing a new party dress that will be worn once and tossed away, or that shirt at the back of our closet we've only worn three times, the acceleration of the fashion crisis calls on us all to make better decisions – for the environment and for ourselves (our spirits and our bank accounts). Dressing in ethical basics can help.
Up Next: can capsule wardrobe-ing save us?
Until then, xo