The rebirth of the forgotten

A while ago I was talking about my crazy idea of not buying any new clothes for at least a year. By that I mean any new clothes. I permit myself to swap clothes with my sisters or a friend, to go to second hand shops/fairs/markets or to make new clothes myself.

Actually, I have been swapping clothes since I was little. I was raised in the second hand mentality so it’s not that big of a deal for me now. We were a ‘big’ family of six children so people would automatically drop their worn out clothes at our house for some reason. The days when again a huge bag of clothes was awaiting us, we were so excited. We made some kind of party in trying on al those (mostly ugly, in our opinion) clothes and argued about who was getting what. Some days we would play our own ‘second hand fair’ by displaying all our stuff we didn’t want anymore on our beds and go to eachothers rooms to trade stuff from our own bed with stuff from their bed.

(Don’t get me wrong: it’s not that my parents didn’t want to buy us new clothes. We just didn’t think second hand clothes being different. It was in a way ‘new’ as well.)

The point of my year of not buying is not being special or whatsoever (although I like the idea of doing something special, to give in to the contemporary urge of being ‘authentic’), but contributing to a healthier clothing industry. I know, I know, it’s just one tiny drip on the hot plate, but I feel like I owe the planet and especially the other people living on it to contribute my part to the global pool.

In fact, it really started when I was watching ‘The true cost’ with growing disgust and it made me realize something I already new but never fully admitted for myself. It made me realize the clothes I wear, we wear, are made of human blood, pain and a disgusting smell of unfairness and consumerism. How many factories need to collapse, how many children need to grow up in an disabling environment for us to realize we need to change our buying behaviour and expectations? I know this is not something we can do instantly on our own, there needs to be a major shift in the way our society is structured too. But we have to start small, right? Or at least, that’s what we like to believe.

Anyways, I told a friend about my plans and she brought me huge bags of clothes she wasn’t wearing anymore. I was wondering if she even had clothes left in her closet to wear. I bet that even if we’d clean out half of the clothes we own we still would have plenty left to wear. Just to illustrate how easily we buy new stuff and take cheap clothing for granted.

I took out what I liked for me and my sisters and kept clothes with a nice tissue or design. Those last ones I am using now to sew new cute dresses and shirts for Baby N. In fact, she is already wearing for 75% (more or less) second hand clothing. I have many aunts with little children with baby clothes in a good state. Because you know, babies grow really fast and use a lot of their clothes only a few times.

That being said, I find now (weeks later since I wrote all above) that it is still easier to buy new clothes than to really make them yourself. It requires a lot of time and effort, which makes fairtrade clothing even more important! Because similarly, the people who make your clothes also put in a lot of time and effort (more than you would yourself) and should be compensated accordingly. I still haven’t bought new clothes for myself (except for underwear) since September 23 but I have to admit I bought some for Baby N. It is more difficult than I thought, also because I want my child to be set more than myself. But, I also sew her two dresses and the clothes I got her say ‘organic’ and ‘fairtrade’ in their labels which makes the deal a little less hypocrite. Plus, her grandmother is addicted to shopping for her grandchild and that’s something I simply can’t forbid.

Anyway, a happy New Year everyone!

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